Sustaining Culture at Cape Breton University

A gift of music, culture and history was celebrated this afternoon, as Cape Breton University (CBU) honoured the generous donation to be made by Denis Ryan, a founding member of the musical group, Ryan’s Fancy. This priceless gift is from Ryan’s personal archives and shares the story of the internationally acclaimed Celtic music group, Ryan’s Fancy and some of his personal materials. The gift, which is being received in multi-media format, will be housed at CBU’s Beaton Institute.

The gift will include the personal papers, videos, cds and songbooks of Ryan, as well as other items.  Cape Breton University is proudly steeped in arts and culture and this, combined with the established reputation of the Beaton Institute as the Island’s cultural repository, makes CBU a fitting home for the Ryan collection. 

Ryan's Fancy


“This gift of musical history, announced today by Denis Ryan, affirms Cape Breton University’s commitment to sustaining culture. To be chosen as the home of such a significant piece of Celtic culture speaks volumes about the reputation of CBU, specifically the Beaton Institute, as a respected historical preservation archive. Members of the university community and visitors to campus will now have an opportunity to access this valuable collection and learn of the contribution that Denis Ryan made to Celtic music,” said CBU President, Dr. John Harker.

Themed, Sustaining Culture at Cape Breton University, the event took place at 4:30 p.m. in the Boardmore Playhouse. Joined by musical talents, Ciarán and Fiona MacGillivray of The Cottarsand Stewart and Lucy MacNeil of the Barra MacNeils, the event was a wonderful tribute to Denis Ryan’s legacy and his influence on Celtic music. For many musicians and industry professionals, Ryan and his group paved-the-way for their music careers. Video testimonials were aired, including stories from DonnieCampbell, musician and host of Celtic Serenade Radio Program; Allister MacGillivray, singer, song writer, author and folklorist; Stewart MacNeil,member of the international recording artists, the Barra MacNeils; Joella Foulds, co-founder and artistic director of the Celtic Colours International Festival and musician; and Brookes Diamond, entertainment producer, promoter and artist manager.

A copy of the collection presented to CBU will be given to the University of Limerick, an institution with which CBU has an established relationship. Ryan will be presenting this collection to the U of Limerick on October 10. A commemorative framed photo of the CBU presentation event will be sent to the University of Limerick for presentation during the Irish event.

To close the celebration, the performers involved in the event, along with Ryan and the audience joined together in singing Cape Breton Dream, a song written by Ryan and Bill Gough. It was a truly memorable moment.