ACCLAIMED musician Sean Keane proved the perfect choice on Friday night as The Old Schoolhouse at Muckross Traditional Farms hosted hosted its first ever gig.
Over 200 music gave a standing ovation following an intimate performance by the Galway performer at Killarney's newest venue, the culmination of a €750,000 project that now completes the traditional farms project which first opened its doors 20 years ago.
Of course the building is first and foremost a tourist attraction, complementing the adjoining traditional farms but, as Farm and Events Manager Toddy Doyle explains, it's a multi-function facility too.
"The primary purpose of the new building is to enhance the traditional farms but we made a decision in the design phase to opt for a building that looks old but remains modern, with facilities that can cater for concerts and other events," Toddy explained.
"There has been huge attention to detail with the contents used from the former Knockaderry National School and and the building designed on the former two-room schoolhouse at Fossa.
"We decided to widen and lengthen the building from the original dimensions and the room dividers can be removed and open up to a venue to fit over 200 people," he added.
It certainly worked a treat on Friday evening as the guest of honour joked that he never thought he'd be back to school. Indeed a member of the world-renowned Keane family, Sean said he felt right at home in the new venue and introduced each of his songs with a few words about their origins.
Hits included 'Bundleen (on my shoulders)', 'Galway to Graceland' and 'Tunnel Tigers', as well as a poignant version of 'Isle of Hope, Isle of Tears'.
"We were very, very happy to have Sean Keane as the opening evening concert as he is from one of Ireland's most celebrated musical families,"
Muckross House Trustees Chairman Michael Larkin stated, adding: "This is just one of many uses for the schoolhouse and and there will be other possibilities such as workshops and an educational outreach centre".
The schoolhouse is an upscaled replica of the the former primary school at Fossa, although measurements were taken from the school at Cashlagh, Cahersiveen, as the Barleymount schoolhouse no longer stands.