AUGUST 19th 2010 was a sad day for Comhaltas Dhún Lathaí; it was the day that Mícheál Ó Breisleáin passed away.
Michael, a tradesman by choice, travelled widely and lived in various parts of England, Scotland and Wales and when he returned home he was employed by the Department of Manpower Services.
A branch of Comhaltas was established in Dunloy in June 1976 and not only did Michael become a member but also a great motivator to all involved in the branch.
Among the many projects for which he will be remembered, the most prominent will be building An Teach Cheoil which became a hive of activity and the hub of the community.
Michael’s great organisational skills provided for the younger generation, a place they could come and learn Irish traditional music alongside meeting new friends and catching up with old ones.
Michael’s heart and soul was in Comhaltas and many may be surprised to learn that although he never played a musical instrument in public, his favourite instrument was the concertina which he played at home.
He became fluent in the Irish language by attending classes alongside frequent trips to the Donegal Gaeltacht. His passion for the language prompted him to form Comhcoiste na Gaeilge, Antroim Thuaidh to which he transported the tutors at his own expense. He was also responsible for reviving Glór na nGael and Conradh na Gaeilge.
Michael served as Chairman of his local branch as well as Treoraí na Gaeilge for Co Antrim, the Provincial Council and represented Ulster at national level.
In latter years with declining health he stayed in touch with his love of Irish culture through programmes namely Raidió na Gaeltachta, TG4 and when possible attended sessions and Céilí classes in the very building he was instrumental in creating - An Teach Cheoil.
His energy and positive attitude were infectious which accounts for the strength of the music and language in the area today. He was also a successful landscape and still life painter.
Michael was an honest man, tough but always the gentleman, who gave of his time and talents freely; expecting nothing in return. To quote from a cultural son of Dunloy, Andy Dooey: ‘For the olden memories fast are flying from us, Oh that some kind hand would come; And bind them in a garland ‘ere the present hardens, And the past grows cold and dumb’.
Michael was that “ kind hand” to whom we owe a great debt of gratitude. He has left his mark on the cultural scene in the area. An rud is annamh is iontach (the thing that is scarce is wonderful) Go raibh míle maith agat a Mhícheáil.
Michael is survived and sadly missed by his wife Rose, daughter Mary, son-in-law, grandson and other family members, to whom we offer our sincere condolences.
As a mark of respect and to celebrate Michael’s life a night of traditional music and song will be held in An Teach Cheoil in Dunloy on Saturday 02 April at 8pm sharp. This will give everyone who knew Michael a chance to commemorate his life and achievements. Donations will be accepted and presented to a local charity of Michael’s family’s choice.