Bannow groups star in 1916 show

By david looby

Published 02/04/2016 | 00:00

Some of the 180 musicians from the Danescastle area on stage at the National Opera House for the Comoradh 1916 concert.
Some of the 180 musicians from the Danescastle area on stage at the National Opera House for the Comoradh 1916 concert.
Ciarán English
Conall Clancy and Ryan Stafford
Ciara Ryan dancing on stage at the National Opera House.

THE National Opera House in Wexford was the setting for a fantastic Comóradh 1916 concert by 180 musicians, adorned in red and black, from the Bannow area, recently.

Wearing the Bannow/Ballymitty G.A.A. club colours, the musicians ranged from Junior Infants in Danescastle National School to young adults, some of whom are studying at 3rd level and others who are in the Irish work force.

The show began with a range of tunes played by the overall group, with the youngest musicians leading off with the more simple ones. The musicians raised the rafters with their rousing rendition of popular Wexford tunes, topped off with 'A Trip to Cullenstown' which has become the anthem for the parish of Bannow.

Many of the outstanding performers hold All-Ireland Fleadh Cheoil na hÉireann, Leinster Scór and a plethora of other titles. Various smaller groups stepped into the limelight to wow the audience with their award-winning performances - namely: 'Reidh' Siansa Finalists 2016, Senior Grúpaí Cheoil 2015 and the Under 12 All Ireland Finalists at Fleadhanna Cheoil in Sligo 2014 and 2015.

The banjo players executed a brilliant and polished routine, while 'Will ye go Lassie, go" was sung superbly, with great step dancing also on display.

The background scenery for the second part of the show depicted the GPO in 1916. The performers were dressed in period costume and the atmosphere was charged with reverence and gravitas. The seven signatories of the 1916 Proclamation were played by the men and appropriate music and songs connected with each signatory were played and sung with feeling and pride. Karen Mernagh gave a heartfelt and hair-raising rendition of Padraig Pearse's epic poem 'The Mother'. Her sister Elaine recited 'James Connolly' and Leona Reville held the audience spellbound when she sang the well-known ballad associated with him. Solo singers who gave superb performances included Jon Reville, Paul O'Sullivan, Melanie Carthy and Emmet O'Sullivan Ryan.

Áine Kennedy, appropriately dressed in black, stepped from the back of the stage to sing the ballad of John Condon, the 14-year old Waterford City boy soldier who was the youngest allied soldier to die during the First World War. Following her historic and peace-making visit to Ireland in 2011, Queen Elizabeth 11 played by Martha Torpey, made a dignified appearance towards the end of a truly splendid, magnificent and accomplished performance by the gifted and committed members of Danescastle Music Group.

Musical director Áine Kennedy was ably assisted by the Senior Danescastle Musicians, the parents of the performers and the hard-working officers, Flora Daly, Margaret O'Sullivan, Noeleen Moran, Diane Bennett, Marie Carthy and committee of the music group.

Ms Kennedy thanked Aisling White and the staff of the National Opera House, Mairéad White, 6th class teacher who assisted the children to make the backdrop for the show and the staff of Danescastle N.S. who helped on the night.

She said: 'A special word of thanks must go to Colm O'Grady and Siobhán Codd who stepped into the breach at the last minute to take charge of the lighting system, to Stage Manager, Alison O'Sullivan, the ever-helpful John Daly who assisted backstage and to Frank Clancy who video recorded the event.'

She said Danescastle Music Group wish to acknowledge the support received from Wexford County Council through the 1916 Commemoration grant scheme and Wexford Credit Union for their donation.

'Following the Easter Rising 1916, W. B. Yeats wrote that "A terrible beauty is born" and Comóradh 1916 performed by Danescastle Music Group certainly helped to awaken pride and appreciation in the valiant efforts and ultimate sacrifice made by those brave men and women who struggled for our freedom in 1916.'

Wexford People

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