Galway choir provide inauguration soundtrack
The director of the Galway choir that provided the soundtrack to President Michael D Higgins’ inauguration ceremony on Friday has said that the event was a “hugely proud” moment for choir members.
Twenty-seven members of Cois Cladaigh Chamber Choir performed alongside the Defence Forces School of Music and soloist Rita Connolly at Friday’s ceremony at Dublin Castle, when Mr Higgins was officially inaugurated as the ninth President of Ireland.
Speaking to the Galway Independent, Cois Cladaigh Director Brendan O’Connor said that he “couldn’t believe it” when he was contacted by the Department of the Taoiseach with the “job dropping” invitation to perform at the ceremony.
“We know we will never sing at such a big occasion ever again. We have done a few things; we sang for Nelson Mandela when he was here, that was big, but this was absolutely enormous,” said Dr O’Connor, adding that he has since received emails from people around the world who felt it was “great to see the West” represented at St Patrick’s Hall on Friday.
Cois Cladaigh performed a number of pieces during the musical interlude at the event in St Patrick’s Hall, including ‘Beannacht’ which was written by the late John O’Donohue and set to music by Eamonn Murray, ‘Be Thou My Vision’, ‘Make Me a Channel’ and ‘The Dear’s Cry’, which was written by Shaun Davey and performed by Rita Connolly, in addition to Amhrán na bhFiann.
The group, which is made up of members aged from 30 to 60 and which is “always looking for new young voices” according to Dr O’Connor, also gave an impromptu musical performance following the ceremony.
After the excitement of Friday, Dr Brennan also served as one of the adjudicators for the All-Island School Choir of the Year Awards on Sunday night, which was attended by President Higgins. The new Head of State and First Lady Sabina Higgins took the opportunity to express their delight at Cois Cladaigh’s inauguration performance. “They said they were absolutely thrilled and delighted and they were very warm about the whole thing,” said Dr O’Connor.
Other Galway guests at President Higgins’ inauguration included filmmaker Lelia Doolan, Labour City Cllr Niall McNelis and Fine Gael Mayor of Galway City Cllr Hildegarde Naughton, who said that Cois Cladaigh “did Galway proud” on the day.
“It was a very special day for the people of Galway. It was a very moving ceremony and a proud day for the people of Galway,” she said.
As Mayor, Cllr Naughton, along with the chairs of each of the Strategic Policy Committees, will discuss what honour it would be appropriate for the city to bestow on the newly elected President at a Corporate Policy Group meeting next month.
Options include holding a civic reception for the President, or bestowing him with the Freedom of the City. Two former Presidents, Douglas Hyde and Seán T O’Kelly, were previously awarded the Freedom of the City.