Tara Hartigan, Nicky McNamara, Dee Ryan and Jennifer Caffrey, Castleconnell at the Saints and Sinners concert in All Saints Church Picture: Dave Gaynor
LOVE Castleconnell created history of their own on Bank Holiday Monday.
All Saints and Singers was the first event from the newly formed voluntary group in the village, LOVE, which stands for live, own, visit and enjoy. Their aim is to encourage tourists and residents alike to celebrate its riverside walks, rich heritage, history, artistic and musical offerings.
From 2.30pm, villagers and visitors crammed into Bradshaw’s for a talk from heritage expert, Paddy Tuohy.
He had listeners on the edge of their seats with tales of the famous residents, visitors and historical events going back hundreds of years in Castleconnell.
It was a real family afternoon with face-painting, chocolate crepes, colouring and games. As part of the Ballyhoura Walking Festival, the guided heritage walk at 4pm saw more than 60 people tour historical landmarks in the area including the ruins of the de Burgh castle and the old courthouse on Chapel Hill.
Annie McInerney summed up the experience perfectly.
“I’ve been living in Castleconnell over 25 years and I never knew that there were two secondary schools here in the past,” said Annie, while standing outside the former Irish Harp Centre, which once housed a secondary school and referring to the Castle Oaks House Hotel, a former convent with adjoining school.
Nicky McNamara, LOVE Castleconnell organiser and one of the founders of the heritage centre, said you can never be sure what kind of numbers you might get for an event like this.
“I’m thrilled by the interest that there is in our local history. The turnout, the appetite for information and the feedback has given us loads of ideas for future events,” said Nicky.
With the sun setting and the birds twittering in the twilight, the day-long celebration culminated in a Dingle Other Voices-style concert in the All Saints Church.
Special ghost appearances by General Sir Richard Bourke and “Black Jack” Fitzgibbon continued the historical theme and peppered the musical acts with first hand accounts of the famous former residents’ interesting lives.
But it was the array of breathtaking musical talent from local performers that stole the show. Deci “The Techie” Hogan; Owen and Moley O’Súilleabháin; Shane Bond; Niamh Irwin, teacher from Owen Gilhooly’s renowned Mid-West Vocal Academy and Music School, and the Castleconnell Folk Club rocked the crowd and created a very special and memorable evening.
They performed on the altar of the 600-year-old church, whose walls are adorned by plaques and tributes to its former congregants.
“I’m delighted it went so well and that people enjoyed themselves,” said founder of LOVE Castleconnell, Tara Hartigan.
“We are lucky and thankful that Dean Gary Paulsen and the church community are willing to open their doors and host an event like this here.
“Not to mention the incredible artists who participated, it really has been a magical night.
“LOVE Castleconnell is only in its infancy,” said Tara “and we’d be delighted to welcome everyone’s ideas for future events, and we’d really welcome anyone else who wants to get involved.”
Contact them through their Love Castleconnell Facebook page or by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org