Linlithgow Male Voice Choir Puts The “International” Into Limerick Sings International Choral FestivalJune 3, 2013
Friday 31st May to Monday 2nd June 2013
Report from our roving correspondent
Friday 31st May
The Tour officially commenced at 13.55 with the first pick-up in our Luxury Coach at Mill Road. Unofficially it commenced at 13:40 with Messrs Lynch & Hanley enjoying the first (recorded) beers of the trip in The Lynch car park. Transport to the airport was seamless with Rory easily winning the “Best Dressed” traveller award.
Airport check-in went smoothly, followed by the first Official Toast of the trip to celebrate the £5,000 sponsorship secured for CRUK re the Usher Hall Concert. Great work from Mr. Wells!
A smooth flight to Shannon followed, with Q readily taking responsibility for testing the adequacy of alcohol supplies.
Landing on schedule at 18:25 we were whisked away promptly to the Maldron Hotel – where a great reception awaited. A joyful reunion with our “independent travellers” was mixed with relief that our accompanist had avoided further injury by not making the journey on his bicycle. The party were welcome by three pipers – a brilliant touch – and we met Ger Reidy, a member of the Festival Steering Committee and our official Choral Ambassador.
Our advanced guard of Douglas & Pat ensured a trouble-free check , the hotel rooms were fine – and everyone met up in the evening, when the Black Stuff and the Wines were liberally sampled over dinner. Having relaxed over the meal, everyone became further relaxed (some becoming totally relaxed) as the evening wore on. Some of the Choir’s repertoire was sampled and we all got to know Ger – and his family – a little better. No one over-did things and everyone was in bed at a sensible time. (Just popping to the Docs for some anti Pinocchio pills)
Saturday 1st June
A bit of a gray day, but after breakfast everyone made their way into the City for a tour of the shops and coffee houses – or a riverside route march – depending on which group you fell in with. It was a bit of a shame that the No 1 Tourist attraction – St John’s Castle was closed – but the fresh air did everyone good.
Most caught glimpses of the Lions v Babas game over lunch (a perfect Pizza –not- for Colin W and Peter) and in the afternoon everyone continued to enjoy the City delights. Many took the trip to Thomond Park and enjoyed a tour of the home of Munster Rugby and also met up with members of their Club’s Choir. Great fun, with the warm & welcoming decor of the Visitor’s Changing room highlighting Rugby hospitality at its best. Great Line out skills were also shown by many of the guys – and I’m sure the contracts are in the post.
St Mary’s Cathedral next up – 16:30 for a rehearsal and Q as fresh as a daisy as the benefits of his fitness regime shone through. Michael, Jim & Joe had everything set up and all went well until we discovered that quite a few of us had left our best voices behind somewhere. However, heavy reliance was placed on the old showbiz adage: “if you’re going to cock it up – do it in the rehearsal”. Time would tell.
A dash back to the Hotel for a bite to eat & wash and brush up – then back to St. Mary’s, where we were welcomed by the Dean (The Rev’d Sandra Pragnell, of good Scottish stock) and later by the Mayor, Gerry McLoughlin (ex Munster, Ireland and 1983 Lion). We were second up, following an excellent performance by Ancor with some terrific harmonies. However, after a dubious rehearsal the boys sang their hearts out and gave a great performance. Highland Cathedral was perhaps the pick of the set, but The Rose and Gloria sounded great in a wonderful venue. Job well done!
The audience really enjoyed the whole occasion and there was a wide variety of music to be appreciated. Unanimous agreement however that we would never include any song with the lyrics “we like sheep” in our repertoire.
After the concert, a short walk to the Festival Club at the Savoy Hotel in the city centre. The refreshments were great – although Sandra could have managed a few more of her special sandwiches – and a little drink was consumed. Very reluctantly we were “press ganged” into leading the Afterglow Concert – with Michael again being fantastic on the piano – and the joint was soon jumping. We energised the whole thing with stand out stalwarts like The Flower & Killie going down a bomb– and translation requests of Ally’s ” Portree Kid” selling like hot stovies.
A truly memorable evening that also saw the first approaches from the other choirs for us to visit them, or for them to come over to Linlithgow.
Back to the hotel at 12.30am and fortunately everyone resisted the temptation to continue the party in the bar. (Just taking another bucket of those anti Pinnochio pills)
Sunday 2nd June
Q led a very enjoyable 6am jog – and everyone bright eyed and bushy tailed at breakfast. No signs whatsoever of the previous (nearly a little bit) late night. A trap well avoided!
At mid-day we left for Limerick University and our rehearsal for the “Choral Extravaganza” at the University Concert Hall. An extremely impressive venue and this time, the rehearsal went well. The guys joined the WAGs for lunch at The Stables – and were appalled at the suggestion by some idiot that a hair of the dog would be a good idea. A temperate lunch was enjoyed before leaving for a 2pm rehearsal for the joint Choirs Finale. Unfortunately we had not taken into account that the University was in a different time zone, but quickly put all watches back by 30 minutes or so.
The Concert therefore started promptly at 3.26pm, with the never to be forgotten entry of The Lismorahaun Singers. The unique choreography left an indelible impression on all who witnessed it and Derek P is working hard to create a suitable version for our choir. Being the third choir on stage we had to wait for 15 minutes or so before going to our “readiness” position, when for some reason a little fresh air triggered some light amusement. A second repertoire decision was also taken in that we should look to the A to C section of the telephone directory for some new lyrics. If it works with flowers……………
Onto the stage with a very strong set of songs. Scots Wha Hae was dramatic; Soldiers Chorus outstanding; 64 brought the house down and Morte Criste was excellent – with a spectacular finish – a golden moment.
There is no doubt that the 19 guys on Tour could not have sung any better.
A truly First Class performance, wonderfully supported by Joe and Michael.
Again a great variety of music to enjoy and a memorable Concert Finale with all of the Choirs joining to sing Danny Boy and “Va’ pensiero”.
After several photo calls, back to The Stables for suitable refreshments and a BBQ. The weather was kind and by the “special request “of the Organisers, we kicked off the post concert celebrations – Michael again in the prime seat and Joe featuring as Hon Conductor. A highspot of the evening was the guest appearance of a celebrity singer, who suddenly joined the ranks of the Unity Gospel Choir in an unforgettable version of Mustang Sally – and then continued to star in all subsequent numbers. Rumours abounded that the mystery guest was a Margaret Wells “doppelganger” and Unity MD Gretta will be happy to pay handsomely for further information.
Another memorable night continued back at the hotel – where mysteriously a second doppelganger appeared. Bob insisted that we all met a “look-alike” for his daughter and then led us in a version of The Rose – which the lady loved and the made the husband break down in tears. Hopefully this was due to the spiritual quality of the singing.
Luckily the Alcohol Unit Counter (Harry) had agreed to turn a blind eye for once to “late drinking” and it was very considerate of Chris, Derek and Val to stay up to make sure that Q had sufficiently quenched his thirst before retiring.
Sunday 2nd June
Sad goodbyes and fond farewells to our independent travellers.
Check-out at the Hotel was very efficient and the late night plus hearty breakfast were the perfect preparation for the coach trip to Killarny!
Passing through the beautiful village of Adare, we went on to Muckross House where we strolled around the beautiful gardens and lakes – and were lucky enough to catch a glimpse of Lord & Lady McGuigan and Lord and Lady Lynch as they drove majestically around the estate in their horse and carriage.
Then back to Killarney for Town Strolling & Shopping and a (very) leisurely lunch. Special thanks to Joe and Rory for making sure that the local Whiskey brands were up to scratch.
A minor excitement when the coach departed without Colin (W) followed by a measure of disappointment from Margaret when we stopped to let him on board. Immediate redemption followed when Colin shared a “farewell cup” with his fellow tourers.
Back to Shannon airport, where we thanked our excellent coach driver and were generously protected by members of the US Armed services until our on- time departure. A smooth flight home and before leaving the airport suitable Presentations were made to Tony & Gay in warmest thanks for their immaculate organisation – and to Margaret, who clinched the Champagne Moment of the trip, having proved conclusively that it was no doppelganger -and she was in fact the guest Gospel Singer.
Unanimously approved as a brilliant Tour – as confirmed by feedback from everywhere and reinforced by the email from Festival Steering Group member and Choral Ambassador Ger, which included:
May I say at the outset that it was an absolute pleasure to meet you.
No words of mine can express the depth of gratitude we feel towards you.
We are getting great positive feedback.
But you guys stole the show.
You left an indelible mark upon everyone that encountered you.
Thank you for travelling over.
Your massive contribution to our Festival will not be forgotten.
HERE’S TO THE NEXT TOUR