Tuesday 26 March 2019

Cloonacool choir hitting high notes

Ciara Galvin

In the ever-changing modern world there are few constants left, time, tide, and add to that, the Cloonacool choir. Embarking on its 50th year in existence the choir is not just a singing group, but more a living tapestry of the community.

Across its 49 years it has seen many voices come and go, but, with renewed talents from young members of the community, the choir is now looking to the future, and appealing to musicians to join them. 

To entice the musically gifted in sharing their talents each Sunday, and by way of celebrating their rich history, some of its members talked to The Sligo Champion about what makes this group a lasting tradition. 

From Breege Burke and Kathleen McCarrick who have been part of the group since its formation in 1969, to the youngest members, six-year-old girls Holly Wynne and Lily Kilcoyne, the group has been a static in the changing landscape of Cloonacool.  

An amalgamation last year of the local folk choir and Cloonacool Choir has breathed fresh life into the group. 

Breege Burke reflects on how the group came to be. "I think we were all in the ICA at the time and it came about that we talked about a choir. We got a little bit of help from the late Anne Gildea, she was a teacher in the local school. 

"I remember us meeting in the old community centre. We sang once or twice with her and she thought we were ok." 

Taking part in competitions in the early days, Breege remembers the group bringing back a tiny silver cup from Collooney, and it took pride of place on the window beside the choir for many years. 

Featuring on Midwest Radio, performing at Mass Rock on Mass Hill and singing at the Novena in Knock Basilica are all highlights for Breege.

"Organists such as the late Walter Brennan and writer Mary Gaffney served the choir well, along with many daughters of choir members over the years. Breege notes that even two nuns from Tubbercurry used to come to the rescue on occasion, when the choir were stuck on a Sunday. 

"Kids from the national school have now joined us and they sing a hymn on their own now every Sunday. 

"It's brilliant to have the different ages, some of them haven't even made their First Communion. It's a real community thing. 

"It's something to look forward to," said the choir stalwart.   

Regina Henry, whose grandfather previously sang in the group, said being involved is 'so positive'. 

"Being involved in something like this in the ommunity is so positive, and keeping young people interested and going to mass is great." 

Since the amalgamation there are now approximately 35 choir members, with practice taking place each Wednesday evening at St Michael's Church. 

"Fr Dan has been so supportive of the choir. Every Wednesday he sets up a table at practice with soft drinks for the children and teas and coffees for waiting parents," said Regina.  

With renewed energy Clooncacool Choir is set to reach many more significant milestones.

Sligo Champion