A CASTLECONNELL man who has never missed singing at midnight Christmas Mass in Ahane for over 20 years has been honoured by Prince Charles for his services to music in London.
John Gilhooly, 38, was conferred with the prestigious award of Honorary Membership of the Royal College of Music by the future King of England.
Mr Gilhooly is artistic and executive director of Wigmore Hall in London. He began in that role at just 32, making him the youngest leader of any of the world’s great concert halls.
He is credited with the transformation of Wigmore Hall’s artistic, financial and administrative affairs.
The venue presents more than 400 concerts every year and attendances have grown by 60 per cent under Mr Gilhooly’s leadership, and almost £18 million has been given in fundraising for concerts and artistic projects.
The modest son of Helen and his late father, Owen, who passed on a love of music to all their children, said it is nice to be recognised for the work you do.
“I’m very privileged that I love music and that it is my job and my life. I realise that very few people can make the thing you love most in to the way you earn your living,” said Mr Gilhooly.
A select few, which included Rick Wakeman, were presented with an award by the Prince of Wales
“He always has a few words to say and it is very nice to meet the royal family. I’m lucky that I feel at home and valued working in such a big city because London can be a very lonely place,” said Mr Gilhooly, who was home in Castleconnell a couple of weeks ago and is due back again in April.
It was a busy St Patrick’s weekend for the former Lisnagry National School and Ardscoil Rís pupil. On Friday night he attended the annual party in the Irish Embassy and on Saturday Wigmore Hall hosted their first St Patrick’s night concert featuring songs inspired by Ireland.
Singing runs in the blood as his siblings Noreen and Owen are also trained singers. Owen, a well known professional singer, runs the Mid-West Vocal Academy in Lisnagry.