St Columcille History
2017 - Celebrating 1st place for Grades 5 and 3 competition bands
at the Celtic Classic Invitational, Bethlehem, PA
The McGonigal family carry on the tradition
Mike, Kevin, Aiden, Pat (Dad), Sean, Lorna, Katie, Joe
Left to right...
Sean, Joe, Kevin, Mike
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Saint Columcille United Gaelic Inc., of Kearny, draws its name from an Irish
prince, warrior and scholar who became a priest to bring early Christianity
to the Western Isles of Ireland and Scotland.
From the Isle of Iona, Columcille (521-597) helped spread faith, knowledge
and culture throughout Europe. Saint Columcille remains a lasting symbol
of the unity of the early Celtic peoples,
particularly the Scots and the Irish.
In October 1949, Sean McGonigal founded a pipe band that he wanted to be
different from any other. Sean chose Saint Columcille to represent his ideal,
the “Unity of the Gael.” Sean expressed his goal in the band’s motto, “Ar
Aghaidh le Ceol na n Gael” -- Forward the Music of the Gael.”
This unique organization whose stated mission is to nurture Gaelic culture,
still thrives with members eager to perform their music throughout the
United States and abroad. The bands sponsored by Saint Columcille
United Gaelic have competed at many Irish Feis and Scottish Games since
the 1950s, culminating in numerous National and International
Championship honors. Members of our band have further distinguished
themselves as top soloists, teachers and as leaders of the Eastern U.S. Pipe
While the band routinely performs at parades, dances, benefits, concerts
and other public events, we continually improve and test ourselves through
the “competition circle.” Indeed, the Saint Columcille organization has, at
times, included as many as three competitive bands of different grade
levels, further credit to its effort to develop all members of its ranks.
The band's ideals, set forward by Sean in 1949, remain the mantra of the
Saint Columcille United Gaelic organization today.
Ar Aghaidh le Ceol na nGael
Forward the Music of the Gael