AUTUMN 1983 sparked the beginning of an era in Bunclody. The FCJ Secondary School Orchestra was founded by music teacher Gearbid Grant and then principal Sr. Margaret Quirke.
The idea was borne out of the desire to nurture the musical endeavours of all students. The retirement of Mr. Grant in 2007 prompted the search for a new musical director. The baton was passed into the capable hands of Carlow native Dale Hennessy, and his dedication ensured continued success. The orchestra has grown from 60 members to 202 with a junior, intermediate and senior orchestra today. Ever increasing numbers are a sure indication of how highly regarded being a member of the orchestra is.
Students of the orchestra are inspired to follow in the footsteps of past members Anthony Kearns, renowned tenor ( trombone player), David MacMullan and Shane Power who both run music production companies, Clare Kavanagh (Operatic Soprano), Des Willoughby (Tenor) and many music teachers and performers, such as Robert Tobin who took up the flute in his first year in FCJ and whose talent has led him to study under renowned flautist Professor William Dowdall in the RIAM Dublin.
FCJ prides itself on the musical development of students and the high standards achieved by both the orchestra members and the musical teaching staff.
On Monday, January 24th, the seniors played for President Mary McAleese during her visit to the school. Also the senior brass section greeted her with the 'Presidential Salute'.
Later a group played traditional music and three students played 'Boolavogue' on harps.
The musical aptitude of students is well recognised as far away as the USA, as FCJ orchestras have had the opportunity to travel on exchanges to The Mount Saint Charles Academy, R.I., who have been visiting Bunclody since 1996.
This is a unique tradition at FCJ, which would not have been possible without the determination of Mr. Grant and the dedication of staff and students. Mr. Hennessy said he is delighted with the progress of all three orchestras and said they were very busy rehearsing for the American's visit here in April.
He would like to thank the students, parents and staff of FCJ whose help and commitment have made everything possible. Long may it