Almost 700 people arrived at the gates of Mount Melleray Abbey on Sunday afternoon last to attend The Light of Christmas concert in aid of Pieta House.
With almost 100 performers, in the form of five choirs and a handful of exceptionally talented soloists, the large crowd of attendees were treated to an empowering and uplifting evening of Christmas music.
The concert was the brainchild of local music teacher and organist Mairead Cullinane from Lismore, who asked the abbot at Mount Melleray Fr Richard Purcell, if it would be possible to have a small Christmas concert in the public church in aid of Pieta House.
On that day, the seed was sown for what would become a historic occasion in Mount Melleray. Soon enough, the idea gathered momentum and more choirs and vocalists joined the bill. With the support of the rest of the Cistercian community at Mount Melleray, it was decided that the concert should take place in the Monastic church. In all its hundreds of years in existence, a concert of this type had never taken place in the Monastic church at Mount Melleray, not until last Sunday, December 9.
Master of ceremonies Jack Aherne from Tallow, took the lead in ensuring that the evening flowed seamlessly.
Soprano Christina O’Flynn from Melleray, sang a stunning rendition of ‘O Holy Night’, joined by tenor Frank Ryan from Tallow who also sang a ‘Mille Cherubini in Coro’, ‘Jerusalem’ and a beautiful duet with Lismore soprano, Liz O’Hara.
Ballyhooly Choir, Tallow Parish Choir, Take Note (Lismore), Melleray Folk Choir and Voice Over Choir (Dungarvan) were the participating choirs and the Cullinane Family Singers sang ‘Danny Boy’, ‘Voice of an Angel’ and ‘Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas’.
Senator Joan Freeman, the founder of Pieta House was also present at the concert and spoke eloquently about the importance of fundraisers like the concert with the theme of Darkness into Light. She spoke about the awareness these events create and how the shame surrounding suicide and self-harm is slowly lifting in Irish society.
The concert finished on a high as all choir members from the various choirs joined in choral song for five Christmas carols, under the invigorating direction of Dom Richard Purcell.
Tim Fouhy, music teacher from Loreto Fermoy took care of accompaniment on the organ while the brass band filled the church with gusto.
The concert was free of charge but donations flowed generously as audience members walked out of church after a concert they will never forget.
Well done to all who assisted in any way to make the concert such an outstanding success.