Roscrea was treated to a magnificent night out on Sunday 13th November in St. Cronan's Church, thanks to the work of the Roscrea Community Choir and friends, in aid of Midland Simon Community and Plan International.
This was a truly heart-warming evening, where the people of Roscrea outdid themselves in their support, both in attendance and by helping in a multitude of ways.
Ger Canning from RTE was the cheerful MC who introduced a showcase of talent with professional ease. But behind the scenes there were so many people who worked tirelessly.
Father Ger Fitzgerald from the Diocesan Office helped persuade some of our top talent to take part, and the Diocesan Peace and Justice Initiative backed the event fully.
Noel O'Meara set up the bank of screens, supplied by James Dooley, which relayed the performers around the church.
Mick Daly took on the challenging task of soundman in an echoing church with a variety of performers, with wingman Tom Stapleton.
Liam Maloney's church flowers and Milltown Garden Centre's flower pots were beautiful, St. Cronan's co-parish priests, Fr Michael Harding and Fr Pat Treacy and the parish office staff were welcoming and so helpful, particularly Angela Mulvey, Mary Pyne and Margaret Ryan who were a great support.
The Men's Shed helped Liam Shanahan with parking, the Parish Council assisted with stewarding, while The Lions Club members sold tickets and supervised at the doors.
All around Roscrea the local business people sponsored raffle prizes, covered some of the costs and gave donations. We are indebted to Patterson, Roscrea Credit Union and SuperValu for facilitating us with ticket sales.
A beautiful seascape by Offaly artist Esther Lambe was top prize in our raffle, as well as CDs, DVDs and tickets donated by Tommy Fleming, vouchers from Roscrea Travel, SuperValu and a total of 13 prizes just in time for Christmas.
First up on the night was the choir themselves, making the most of the church acoustics with Benedictus and Songs of Ireland, conducted by Lucy McCarthy and accompanied by Jim Maley on keyboard and Louise Smith on cello.
Jim also conducted an a capella version of Ste Duckett's arrangement of Amazing Grace.
Colm Brussels played two of his own compositions, An Ghlóir and A Mhuire na nGrás, with singer Yvonne O'Toole, accompanied by five harpists.
Sacred Heart Children's Choir performed some show-tunes accompanied by William McCullagh.
This was followed by Simon Casey of You're A Star and keyboard player Paul Skelton who entertained the packed church with some of Simon's hits and one of his own compositions. They finished with a homage to Leonard Cohen, Hallelujah.
The haunting music of Uilleann Pipes and bodhrán then filled the church, along with traditional Irish dancers , with David and Denis Kinsella and the Ann Callanan and Bernadette Flynn Schools of Dance.
Soprano Breffni Fitzpatrick was accompanied by Jim Maley as she sang Le Violette and songs from Showboat and The Mikado, and then it was time for Navy Commander Lieutenant David Fleming and Rev. Des Campion, Navy Chaplain, to give their first-hand accounts of the recent rescue missions in The Mediterranean, reminding us why we were all fundraising.
Local group Passing Through (Colin Williams, Bobby Fahy and Sinéad Browne) played some relaxing American folk and blues.