part of front row fiddlers 2015
part of front row fiddlers 2015
part of back row 2017
part of back row fiddlers 2015

summer 2009 The Community Press

Fiddlers Orchestra returns to roots

Asphodel-Norwood – The Donegal Fiddlers Orchestra is coming home.

After four years of using the old town hall in Havelock as its base for Saturday night performances, the fiddlers will return to the Asphodel-Norwood community to its monthly dances. A media release last week said the municipality and the orchestra have come to an agreement for the use of the Norwood Town Hall “that is satisfactory to both parties.” And that means the Donegal Fiddlers will be performing their range of celtic, traditional, country and dance music in Norwood.

The doors to the hall will open at 7 p.m. “and the strains of fiddle music will fill the century-old spaces,” says Donegal Fiddlers member Marie Forgrave, of Campbellford, adding that the musicians are looking forward to utilizing the ample space at the Norwood Hall and being able to accommodate the orchestra’s ever increasing monthly crowd.

The fiddle orchestra has added a variety of instruments to its base of 16 fiddles, guitar, bass fiddle, tin flute, mandolin, accordion, keyboard and percussion which resulted in “an ever more interesting sound,” making the orchestra “truly a unique group” that is ready to provide fun and entertainment.

The musicians who later became the Donegal Fiddlers at first came together simply to practise and socialize. Then people started to drop in to listen, and soon the informal group had a devoted audience. Pushed by founding members such as Alilee Thompson, the band coelesced and formed an identity and a musical pattern. They adopted the name of a 19th-century one-room school house southeast of Norwood that had been turned into a community centre called the Donegal Hall. The hall became their headquarters, and the fiddlers played there until 2005, when the building was sold, becoming part of a residential property. That’s when the group turned to the old town hall on Mathison Street in Havelock, where they started performing the first Saturday of every month. In between, they performed at church halls, community dances, diners clubs, agricultural fairs and dinners, summer festivals, trailer parks and service club fund raisers, including the Frankford Fiddlers on the Trent review for the World Food Grain Bank.

The Donegal Fiddlers have also taken their show east, playing a concert in a small community near Sherbrooke, Que. before going on to play in Murray Harbour and  North Rustico, P.E.I., Bay St. Lawrence and Ingonish, Cape Breton Island, and Pictou, N.S.

The Donegal Fiddlers have been recognized with a Peterborough County arts award. And they have made CDs “for our own enjoyment” says bassist Ron Scott, noting that the recording sessions also helped the musicians focus and refine their music.

Dear Members of the Donegal Fiddlers Orchestra,

Thank you so very much for playing at our wedding at Bloom Field Gardens. Every one of our guests loved your music and many said it was the most memorable part of the day. The orchestra and the music provided the atmosphere we were hoping to create on our wedding day. Thank you too for piping us in to the tent for our introduction as a married couple.
With sincere thanks, Christine and Ryan

Dear Donegal Fiddlers,
Thank you so much for your generosity of my scholarship. I am confirmed with the Theatre Arts program at Algonquin College. Your gift will make a great difference for my school expenses.
Thanks again, Brianna R.

I can't thank you enough for entertaining at my party yesterday. I felt you were fantastic trying to teach the folks the dances. Several people told me they had a great time and also the best birthday party they have ever attended.
Nancy Sparling
80 years young Peterborough
80 years young in Peterborough
80th birthday party in Peterborough
80th birthday party in Peterborough


I don't know if we thanked the Donegal Fiddlers enough last night for the great performance, but please pass on my personal gratitude for the generous donation of your time and talent for a great cause. I am sure that the very name of the group brought in a lot of people, in spite of the bad weather, and they were not disappointed. The standing ovation was well deserved! What a likeable bunch of people, and the music was most enjoyable.
Thank you so much!
Gabriella Hamley, Marmora

Dear Donegal Fiddler members,
It is with sincere appreciation that we are writing to thank you for your very generous donation to our school music program. The money has been put into a scholarship account to assist students.
Without the support of groups such as yours, our program would not function.
St.Paul Catholic Elementary School.

Donegal Fiddlers,
Thanks for a great afternoon of music. The staff and volunteers at Lang Pioneer Village wish you all the best.

The Donegal Fiddlers Orchestra entertained with some Irish music, beginning with the popular tune "If You're Irish Come Into the Parlour", at the St. Patrick's Day celebration hosted by St. Andrew's Presbyterian Church.  "This is the third year for our soup and sandwich lunch which is a fundraiser for the church," said Betty Leppanen.  
For Frances Watson, who was there with her friend Cheryl Brown, it was an opportunity to join in the celebration.  "This is my first time coming to the lunch but I go to see the Donegal Fiddlers all the time," she said.  "And I'm Irish too ... my grandfather's name was Patrick Finnegan so we're here to celebrate the Irish", she added with a big grin.
Photo by Sue Dickens Trent Hills Independent March 2014
Photo by Sue Dickens Trent Hills Independent March 2014

Each year we marvel at your great toe tapping music and again this year you have surpassed yourself. You made us smile and gave us joy with your excellent music.Thank you, thank you, thank you.
Cattlemens' Association

Hello Donegal Fiddlers,
I just wanted to send through a thank you card for you and your orchestra.
Thanks so much for performing such beautiful music for our wedding. It was absolutely wonderful to have you there. Many guests commented on how fantastic your music was.
If you ever need a reference for a celtic wedding I would be more than happy to provide you with one. We loved it.
Thanks again, Laurie

Donegal Fiddlers ready to kick off some dancing

by Bill Freeman, EMC Community Newspaper

Norwood - The acclaimed Donegal Fiddlers Orchestra will kick off an eighth season of community dances at the Norwood Town Hall.  The orchestra was founded ten years ago but first began entertainig at community dances the following year as they settled into the former Donegal School House in Asphodel Township.  The school hall's closure and burgeoning crowds led the Fiddlers to Havelock and then back to Norwood and its historic town hall in 2009.

The Donegal Fiddlers will be busy this summer playing gigs in Belleville, Campbellford, Brighton, Cobourg and other regional communities with a passion for good music.  There was even a group from Mississauga that travelled to the Norwood Town Hall to be entertained by the orchestra.  "The repertoire of the ever more talented and popular group continues to expand as does the variety of instruments; viola and cello have been added to its numbers," says bass player Ron Scott.

The members of the Donegal Fiddlers Orchestra continue to enjoy perfecting and performing their eclectic and spirited music for all who care to listen.  The dances are held the first Saturday of the month.

Hello Gerry:
So nice to meet you last Saturday when your wonderful orchestra provided so much joy and entertainment at our Airstream Rally in Norwood. The comments afterwards were all so very enthusiastic – we loved the choice of music, the dancing bits, and of course, Deb’s jokes, etc. We were also impressed by the caliber of the orchestra – Way to Go! (I do hope that your pianist was able to recuperate afterwards. She is spectacular, and you know you are fortunate to have her!) So, please pass along our best wishes to all of the group. They are marvelous!!!
Ann Rich
Ontario Canada Unit, WBCCI (Airstream) Association
PS – It was so nice to meet with Deb Taylor during your trip to Ireland. She is so personable, and a lot of fun to talk to, as well. (Also, a lot of our folk commented on her lovely singing voice! Please pass along our compliments.)