Anne McConnell Strong
Chair: Canadian Region – Comhaltas Ceoltóirí Éireann
Anne McConnell-Strong, born and raised in Co Galway, graduated as a registered nurse following training in London England. In 1960 she immigrated to Montreal for a brief four year period before moving on to make her permanent home in Kingston, Ontario. In 1972 she interrupted her operating room nursing career to become co-owner of the Frontenac Hotel.
As well as being the general manager for the hotel, Anne managed two Irish pubs called Finnegan’s and Muldoon’s. It was here that Anne introduced Kingston to traditional Irish music. In addition to travelling to Ireland to recruit bands and musicians she also hired many talented Canadian performers to provide Irish musical entertainment in the pubs.
In 1978 Anne arranged for the Echoes of Erin Concert Tour Group to include Kingston in their schedule that year. There was no looking back. Anne founded the Kingston Branch of Comhaltas Ceoltori Eireann that same year and was its Chairperson for the following two years. She went on to help create the first school of Irish dancing in Kingston in 1981.
She resumed her operating room nursing career at the Kingston General Hospital in 1983, following the sale of the hotel and began taking Irish dancing instruction from Peggy Kendellan in Ottawa for several years. During this time she also introduced Brockville to the Irish dancing and music culture through association with the Kingston Comhaltas Branch.
In 1988 Anne was elected Chairperson of the Eastern Comhaltas Regional Board, a position which she still holds in 2014. The North American Provincial Council was formed in 1992 and Anne was elected as its Vice Chairperson, a role which she continued to fill until she stepped down in 2012. Somehow Anne found time to introduce the Comhaltas Music Hall of Fame to Canada in 1996.
Through her encouragement and guidance the CCE Western Region was established in 1997 and at the same time she successively lobbied Ireland Head Office and the North American Provincial Council to have Canada included in the Adjudicator Program, which resulted in Toronto being selected for a seminar in 2003. Through Anne’s efforts an annual Feile Cheoil was established in 2006 which it is hoped will eventually lead to a North American qualifying Fleadh being held in Canada.
Beginning in 2003, Anne was each year elected as one of two delegates to represent CCE North America at the most senior Comhaltas management committee (Ardchomhairle) in Ireland. She stepped down from this role in 2012. Since 2002 Anne has coordinated the Echoes of Erin concert tour in Canada. Anne continues to take on new responsibilities, the latest being leading a committee to examine the merits of Canada becoming a North American Province.
For most of her adult life Anne has ceaselessly promoted the development and preservation of Irish traditional culture in Canada and the United States. Her contributions to this cause have been immeasurable.