In the early years, the IMA activities included:

  • Playing at local events including Ceili, Weddings, Feiseanna, Benefit Dances and House Parties.
  • Held Annual Conventions in various cities throughout the country from the late 1950’s – late 1960’s; including New York, Philadelphia, Boston, Providence, Cleveland and Chicago.
  • Organized a tour of Ireland by Chicago-born musicians, dancers and singers in 1959. The Association organized two concerts in Chicago to raise funds for the tour; including music, song, dance and comedy.

Members of the Chicago Ceili Band included Jimmy Thornton, John Lavelle, Pat Gillhooly, Eleanor Kane Neary, John McGreevy. Mary Donnelly McDonagh, Eileen Fitzgerald; and Singers Beatrice Garrity and Margie Friel.

Chicago Gaelic Concert Dancers selected for the Tour included Mary Jane Lucid, Pat Gillhooly, Mary Campbell, Margie Bartishell, Dennis Dennehy, Joan O’Connor, Maureen Daly, John Woulfe and Michele Johnston.

Full group of musicians, singers & dancers on the Irish Tour in 1959 included Johnny Woulfe, Jim Rudden, Beatrice Garrity, Margie Bartishall, Mary Jane Lucke, Pat Gillhooly, Dennis Dennehy, Frank Thornton, Mike Malone, Joanne Harnett, Mary Donnelly McDonaugh, John McGreevy and John Lavelle, Mary Campbell, Michele Johnston, Maureen Daly and Joan O’Connor.
The group was joined by Mike Malone in Ireland, who played piano throughout the tour.

On the tour, the group played 23 concerts throughout Ireland in July, 1959 to large audiences at every concert. The favorable reports in local press throughout Ireland sparked Comhaltas Ceoltóirí Éireann tours to North America.

An example of local reporting on the Irish Tour:

“Doherty’s Hall, Drumshambo, was packed for the stage presentation by the Chicago Gaelic Concert Group on Monday night. In a very nicely arranged and balanced program, each of the artists distinguished him or her self in their own particular sphere of entertainment, while the various exhibitions of Irish traditional figure dancing made a deep impression on the large audience. The vociferous applause and general manner in which the audience received the show was, in itself, an indication and striking proof of the high standard of the presentation.”