St Columcille History
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Ar Aghaidh le Ceol na nGael
Forward the Music of the Gael
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.
The McGonigal family carry on the tradition
Ar Aghaidh le Ceol na n Gael” -- Forward the Music of the Gael
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.
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 Band Association.
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.”