ARCHBISHOP of Armagh and Primate of All-Ireland Cardinal Sean Brady is to be a special guest at the upcoming Limerick Choral Festival.
The festival is now in its eighth year and second as the Limerick Choral Festival, beginning life in 2005 as the Limerick Festival of Church Music.
This year’s event has attracted in excess of 40 choirs from all parts of the country, including for the first time ever participants from Northern Ireland, with St Paul’s High School, Newry to travel for the festival.
Speaking at the launch of the event this week organiser Joe O’Connor, president of the Limerick Choral Festival Society, said he was “very happy” with the involvement of the choir from Newry.
“For the first time ever we have choirs from the North, which we are very happy about because we are hoping it will develop into an international festival. We have set the aim of achieving that by 2015,” said Mr O’Connor.
Among the prominent Limerick choirs taking part will be the Limerick Choral Union, Our Lady Queen of Peace Church Choir, Limerick Gospel Choir, the University of Limerick Choral Society and St Mary’s Church Choir, while the choirs of Castletroy College, Glenstal Abbey and Crescent College Comprehensive will head up a sizeable contingent of second-level choirs, augmented by a host of junior school choirs from Limerick city and county and beyond.
Among the travelling groups will be newcomers St Mary’s Cathedral Choir, Killarney, along with choristers from Cork, Waterford, Tipperary and Westmeath.
“The entry is about half and half between local and travelling choirs and we have a lot of school choirs entering, which we are delighted with,” said Mr O’Connor.
“We would like to see more church choirs taking part because it was originally founded as a church music festival and we are still very much trying to develop that aspect of it.”
Festival adjudicators will be Dr John O’Keeffe, St Patrick’s College and NUI Maynooth and Dr Helen Phelan, from the Irish World Academy of Music and Dance in UL.
The festival organisers are delighted that Cardinal Brady will visit Limerick for the event. The Armagh archbishop will lead the celebration of Solemn Vespers with the combined choirs of the festival in St Joseph’s Church on Saturday March 3 at 5 pm.
“Cardinal Brady is presenting the main church choir of the year award and he will celebrate the evening mass in St Joseph’s while he is here. He is looking forward to the visit,” said Mr O’Connor.
A number of workshops will take place with renowned Minnesota-based liturgical composer Marty Haugen. The workshop will take place on Sunday, March 4, culminating in a festival mass at 5.30pm in St Joseph’s.
The festival runs from March 2-4 in St Joseph’s, the Redemptorist’s and Augustinian’s. See www.limerickchoralfestival.com for details.