The secret of success for any sports or social club, social gathering, family outing or suchlike has to be the chemistry between members; how do members get on with each other and enjoy each other’s company. Well, after the two gatherings over the last week, it is certain that the Mayo Male Voice Choir has such chemistry. Unsurprisingly, the members like to sing and don’t need much encouragement to begin a sing-song! The simple joy of singing together ensures that a good night out for the choir is exactly that – a good night out, or in the case of Louisburgh – a very good night out. This will be explained later!
The first gathering was held in Breaffy House Hotel on the occasion of Eamonn Horkan’s 80th birthday. Eamonn’s son-in-law, Declan Durcan, invited the choir to gate crash Eamonn’s family party on this special occasion and to serenade Eamonn and his good wife, Mary with some of MMVC’s standards. Eamonn and Declan are both members of MMVC. To be fair, Eamonn later admitted, that he had been surprised that no one in the choir mentioned his special birthday at choir practice – he would surely have expected a rousing rendition of “Happy Birthday” if nothing else. Not a word was said, not a note sung in his honour.
If only Eamonn knew how difficult it was for choir members to stay quiet on the subject and to how difficult it was to plan for the surprise gate crash with him being present at nearly every practice. It was all worth it when the choir saw the look on his face as the members trooped in to Healy Macs in full uniform on the nod from Declan.
Both Eamonn and his wife Mary were completely taken aback, but as ever, Eamonn wasn’t down for long – he quickly hopped off his seat and joined the choir in “Stout Hearted Me” “The Jolson Trilogy” “Drunken Sailor” and more.
It was a great night and a wonderful surprise for a true legend. By the way, two other special birthdays were celebrated on the same night by his daughters, Sarah and Jane.
The second gathering was in Louisburgh on Friday 15th April where MMVC were invited to sing at a concert in aid of Louisburgh Town Hall Restoration Fund. MMVC look forward each year to their Louisburgh concert and also to the get-together in the Bun Abhainn afterwards. This annual migration of the choir westwards came about some years ago through the links established between Catherine MacLeod and the recently deceased choir MMVC founder Michael Basquille. Michael’s presence was definitely felt on the night and the choir performed “Rest of the World Goes By” with solo by James Garvey in his honour. This was the song that Michael regularly duetted with Catherine on. Catherine presented Tony Conway, Michael’s great friend, with a plaque to pass on to the Basquille family as a thank you for his lifelong commitment to music. The concert was a great success with the finale of pupils from Louisburgh Junior Choir, The Quay NS Choir, Westport and MMVC singing “A Mhuire Mháthair” and “Thank You for the Music” in honour of Michael being the highlight. The fact that several choir members won prizes in the raffle was a real bonus!
The choir then advanced to the Bun Abhainn where they proceeded to take over the establishment in a friendly attack! The singing started almost immediately and continued very late into the night with rousing renditions of “The Town I Loved So Well” and “The Fields of Athenry” among many other stalwarts. If life is about living in the moment, well this was one of those moments – it was savoured and enjoyed then and will be recounted and treasured for years to come. As the saying goes, “You had to have been there!”
The next outing for the choir is the big one, their annual concert in Breaffy House Hotel this Thursday, April 28th at 8 pm. With the brilliant tenor, Seán Costello, from Ballinrobe as their guest soloist, the Garvey Brothers – both members of MMVC, who stole the show last year and guest MC for the evening, the inimitable Frank Forde, it promises to be a great, great concert, one not to be missed. Tickets (selling fast!) are available from choir members, from Breaffy House reception or at the door on the night.