The Cathaoirleach of Sligo County, Councillor Veronica Cawley hosted a reception to honour Thomas Nelson and his contribution to the promotion of Comhaltas Ceoltóirí Éireann abroad.
In 2007 a group of 30 musicians and dancers, some of whom are descendants of Irish emigrants, visited Sligo. During this trip the first South American branch of Comhaltas was formed in the Coleman Centre, Gurteen. Mr. Thomas Nelson, a third generation descendent of Irish emigrants to South America was appointed Comhaltas Ceoltóirí Éireann co-ordinator for the South America branch and reports to the Coleman Heritage Centre in Gurteen, Sligo.
The Cathaoirleach, Councillor Cawley welcomed Mr Nelson and members of Comhaltas to County Hall and was delighted to have the opportunity to acknowledge the work of Mr Nelson and his colleagues in Argentina and Chile. She pointed out that Sligo Local Authorities have worked very hard to foster a global network of contacts, encompassing a broad spectrum of endeavour, from arts, to music, to culture and sport and “the Comhaltas branches in Argentina represent about half a million descendants of Irish people who emigrated to South America in the mid and late 19th century, people who now express their pride in their Irish roots.”
Front Row - Vince Hearns Reachtaire Comhaltas, Thomas Nelson Co-Ordinator South American Comhaltas, Cathaoirleach Councillor Veronica Cawley and Seamus McCormack former President of Comhaltas Ceoltóirí Éireann attend reception with elected members and members of Comhaltas
Seamus McCormack, former president of Comhaltas complimented Mr Nelson on the work being done in South America. There are now 2 branches of Comhaltas in Argentina and 1 in Chile. Mr McCormack also spoke of the excellent quality and style of music he witnessed on a trip to the South American branches of Comhaltas.
Vince Hearns, Reachtaire or Development Officer in Comhaltas also spoke of the hard work of Thomas Nelson as the Comhaltas Co-Ordinator in South America. He also thanked Mr Nelson on a personal level for the hospitality and generosity shown to him and his wife when they visited Argentina some years ago. As a development officer in Comhaltas he was very much impressed and heartened by the level of interest and expertise in Irish music, dance and culture within the Irish communities in Argentina and Chile.
Gerry Hanley plays a waltz for guest of honour Thomas Nelson