News & Press


Irish Music and Dance Group Has New Oregon Home
Worldwide Irish organization now sponsoring activities in Portland

PORTLAND, OR  — The lively sound of Irish jigs and reels, swirling dancers and tapping feet are heard every Sunday afternoon at Kell’s Irish Pub with the opening of a Portland chapter of the Irish culture organization, Comhaltas Ceóltoirí Éireann.  Comhaltas (pronounced “COLT-us”) is an international cultural organization headquartered in Dublin, Ireland, with branches worldwide.  The new Oregon branch is sponsoring traditional music and dance activities in Portland and has more planned.  The chapter is named the Mícheál Ó’ Dohmnaill chapter after the beloved Irish musician who made his home in Portland and inspired a love of traditional Irish music in this area.

Comhaltas is headquartered in Dublin, but just like the far-flung Irish people, there are branches all over the world, including in the U.S. and as far away as Japan and Argentina.  Among many events promoting traditional Irish music and culture, Comhaltas sponsors Irish music competitions where Irish-Americans have gone back to the “auld sod” to compete with native Irish for the coveted All-Ireland music titles.  There are several fine Irish musicians in the Portland area, including singer Brian O’ hAirt, who won the All-Ireland men’s singing title in 2002.  Comhaltas also promotes Irish set dancing, a popular form of folk dancing in Ireland, which is also popular in Portland.

To Irish singer Brían Ó hAirt, the establishment of an Oregon branch Comhaltas is “. . . an important and long overdue step in promoting Ireland’s rich cultural traditions in Portland. I’m doubly thrilled that this branch’s namesake was a seminal figure in traditional singing who helped light the fire in the heart of many a Portlander to pick up a fiddle or learn a song.”

The Micheal O Domhnaill Oregon chapter of Comhaltas sponsors weekly set dancing at Kell’s Irish pub, from 4-6pm every Sunday at 112 SW 2nd Ave in Portland as well as a weekly “slow session” every Sunday from 6-7pm where aspiring traditional Irish musicians join together to play jigs and reels at a slower tempo than the normally blisteringly fast pace.  Future plans include music workshops, group lessons, a local music competition, language lessons and other events celebrating traditional Irish culture.