Friday, December 18, 2015

Another entertaining Christmas Gathering

Last night's Christmas Gathering in aid of Maintain Hope was again one of those really excellent showcases of local talent, and a most enjoyable evening, writes Brian Byrne.

Although a current health bug doing the rounds took its toll on some of both anticipated performers and audience, it was a virtually full house event.

The opening performance of the Kilcullen Gospel Choir, on their last gig of 2015, was electrifying and put everyone in form for the rest of the playlist.

Before moving on, Maintain Hope founder Gerry O'Donoghue outlined the current position with the Kenya charity, and introduced a videoed 'thank you' and singing from some of the children it helps. Dorly and Gese performed some of their most popular classical pieces, Danny Carthy came from Belfast to entertain with well-known ballads, and Francie O'Brien provided some of his most popular pieces.

Despite a chest infection, Roy Thompson — who brings so many internationally acclaimed singer-songwriters to the locality via the Ballymore Acoustic Gigs, showed us once again that he is himself at least as equal to any of them in both his creativity and performance. The close harmony of the McMahon sisters offered a quite different and unique experience which entranced, Emmet O'Sullivan performed one of his own short stories, and (no relation) Leah O'Sullivan on her harp reminded in a very musical way of the ancient music of Ireland. The Leahy family provided us with some very excellent traditional music and dancing.

Our own Dick Dunphy in a monologue expounded some of the advantages of growing older, Philomena Breslin hit high notes of the entire evening, and the event concluded with carols from everybody present.

Once more a packed and professional quality evening of entertainment, linked throughout by John Martin with his customary aplomb. The programme coordinator was Monica Martin, stage manager was Annie Shiffer, the superb lighting and sound by Frank Mitchell, while Steve Kinneavy and Madge Clarke kept order in front of house.