Friday 19 April 2019

Centenary is marked with moving music

Eithne Horan from Duncannon and Ann Cummins from Ballyhack
Eithne Horan from Duncannon and Ann Cummins from Ballyhack
Some of the large attendance at the concert in St Michael’s Theatre
Lily and Gerry McGovern

David Looby

More than 170 people from the New Ross district who fought and died in World War I were remembered in a moving concert on Saturday night in front of a packed house at St Michael's Theatre.

The New Ross Remembers WWI Centenary Concert was organised by Seamus Kiely and Jack Stacey and drew an audience of around 280 people from across the country and from as far away as Vienna and the UK.

Featuring music, songs, poems and letters, the concert was a celebration of lives lost too young fighting the Germans in fields, in trenches, in the sea and in the air and on beaches across Europe in the war. The concert paid a dignified, respectful homage to over 250,000 Irishmen who went to fight in the war between 1914 and 1918, including the youngest British or Irish soldier to die, 14-year-old Waterford youth John Condon.

Among the songs which performed were: It's a Long Way To Tipperary, Remember Me, The Green Fields of France, Danny Boy, Pack Up Your Troubles, Grace, And The Band Played Waltzing Matilda, Christmas 1915 and You'll Never Walk Alone, with audience participation adding to the occasion.

Seamus said the project began in early 2018. `The whole idea is that we wanted to not only remember what we thought at that point in time were the people on the list of names of New Ross people of who were killed in the World War, but also to remember the men who were ostracised when they came back.'

In total 102 men from New Ross have been identified as having fought and died in 'The Great War', with a further 70 from the Hook Peninsula to just outside the town. A list of names of the dead were displayed on the theatre walls.

Accompanied by an orchestra, talented local performers sang, played and contributed to the event; including Clodagh Kinsella, Keith Flanagan, Seán Callaghan, Bernie Sinnott, Clare Ronan, Ollie Grace, Seán Reidy, Tom O'Sullivan, Paul Grant, Claire Kickham, and the New Ross & District Pipe Band.

The audience were told stories of several young men from the area who gave their lives and made the ultimate sacrifice for their country and its people.

Brief histories of John Redmond and David Lloyd George were outlined and there was an account of James Murphy, who was born in Rathnure in 1883, the son of James and Annie.

James worked for a time as a warder in Portlaoise Prison. He married Ellen Laide from Kerry and they had a daughter, Ann. He enlisted in the Royal engineers in Lixnaw, Co Kerry in 1914 and was involved all through the war, surviving many battles, until October 12, 1918, only 30 days before the end of the war, when he accidentally drowned, aged 35.

A section of an eloquent letter he wrote home to his parents was read out at the concert. There was also moving accounts of the lives of soldiers like Martin Doyle, who was one of the most decorated fighters in Ireland in World War I, and of John Condon.

Elegiac poems from the era were read by Rev Ivan Dungan and the crowd enjoyed a sing along to some more light-hearted numbers on what was a memorable, moving and hugely entertaining night in New Ross. Copies of the memorial souvenir programme are available at the M&V Stores in the Irishtown for €5.

New Ross Standard