Members of the Limerick Branch of the Limerick Ireland District, Scotland/Ireland Mission, staged an Irish Night—or, as they put it in their native language, an “Oiche Gaeilge”—as a prelude to National Irish Week, or “Seachtain Gaeilge”. Irish Week is held each year during the week incorporating St Patrick’s Day, and it’s a celebration highlighting the many customs that illustrate what makes the Irish, Irish.
More than 150 people attended the event, including some national politicians, local councillors and the local Catholic priest, Fr. Murphy. Fr. Murphy was so pleased with the evening that one of his parishioners visited the home of Patrick Kearney, first counsellor in the Limerick district presidency, and related that during his homily at mass the following morning, he (Fr. Murphy) spoke about how much he had enjoyed attending the Irish Night staged by the Church.
The event was organised by Tom Cassidy and John Kelly, and they acknowledge the significant contribution made by so many people to ensure the success of the evening.
The Irish Night appealed to all age-groups and featured ten acts, including the Limerick Unity Gospel Choir, who performed both gospel and Irish numbers. The Declan Bromell Dancers performed traditional Irish soft- and hard-shoe dances. Irenee Kearney sang the nostalgic Irish ballad “She Is Far from the Land”. This lovely song is a lament telling the story of Sarah Curran’s sadness that she is no longer living in the land where her departed fiancé lies buried. Emilie Kearney performed her own classical flute arrangement of the famous Irish tune “The Lonesome Boatman”—a truly haunting interpretation of the piece. Marie Toomey and Helen Maloney played some traditional Irish songs, and the audience enthusiastically sang along.
Poetry by Paul McNamara really lit up the stage as he delivered his own up-to-date compositions, which the audience really enjoyed. Christy Sparling and Henry Bedford played accordion and guitar renditions of well-known Irish tunes, followed by audience participation in the ballad “The Fields of Athenry,” a famous Irish rugby anthem. The second poet was Tom McCarthy, who also wrote his own poems, one of which, “The Smoker”, was a huge hit with the audience. It may have been an ironic title for a poem delivered in a Latter-day Saint chapel, but it concerned the “chains of habit” caused by tobacco usage. Robert Kearney recounted the sad story behind the Irish song “Grace”, which tells of the last meeting of an Irish rebel with his new bride prior to his execution hours later.
The final act was the trumpet playing of the “Last Post” by Don Phelan of the local brass and reed band the Boherbuoy Band. Boherbuoy is Gaeilic, meaning “the yellow road”. The event concluded with everyone standing and singing the Irish national anthem, accompanied by Christy Sparling and Henry Bedford.
The entertainment was followed by some traditional potato-and-leek soup with soda bread. Then came dessert, which was coloured green, white and orange, the three colours of the Irish national flag, so designated to signify green and orange of the two traditions on the island, with white, the colour of peace, between them.
It is hoped that the Irish Night will become an annual event to commemorate a wonderful heritage, foster local talent and allow visitors to familiarise themselves with the customs and beliefs of the Church.