Monasterevin choir to sing at International Eucharistic Congress finale

The Monasterevin Gospel Choir will sing to their biggest ever audience this Sunday when they take part in the closing mass at Croke Park for the 50th International Eucharistic Congress, currently taking place in Dublin.

The Monasterevin Gospel Choir will sing to their biggest ever audience this Sunday when they take part in the closing mass at Croke Park for the 50th International Eucharistic Congress, currently taking place in Dublin.

The 50-strong choir will follow in the footsteps of another famous Monasterevin resident, Count John McCormack.

The renowned tenor, who formerly lived in Moore Abbey in the town, enthralled the crowds with his rendition of ‘Panis Angelicus’ at the 1932 Congress in Dublin.

The choir found out about six weeks ago that their application to sing at the Congress had been successful. They will participate in a full dress rehearsal on Saturday next before making their way to Croker on the Sunday.

“It’s a great shot in the arm for the choir,” said local man and PRO Dick Somers.

The choir have been practising two numbers for their performance at the official closing ceremony, officially known as Statio Orbis, which will be televised worldwide.

They will perform ‘He is High and Lifted Up’, a song which was co-written by Handel, and ‘We Give You Praise’.

The choir’s conductor is Colette McInerney, with Peter Coe as Musical Director. Gaye Keogh is in charge of their hand-clapping and swaying traditional Gospel moves as choreographer, and Jackie Kennedy is chairperson of the group.

“The singers are 98 percent local,” said Mr Somers. They range in age from youngsters in their early teens to retired people. The group has around 10 male singers in its ranks.

The group’s black-and-gold costumes were made by local dressmaker Marion Flynn.

The Monasterevin Gospel Choir was formed in 1998 when local Parish Priest Liam Merrigan put a notice in the parish newsletter looking for singers to bring the all-singing, all-dancing style of the American Deep South to the Venice of Ireland.

Almost all of those who started with the choir are still involved. The late John Proctor was a strong influence in the formation of the group, and played a big part in sourcing its songs and hymns.

These days, the choir is in strong demand for its performances at weddings, which business is driven through its website monasterevingospelchoir.ie.

The group has also performed with such luminaries as Finbarr Wright, The Three Tenors, Rebecca Storm and Brian Kennedy.

It holds an annual fundraiser for a local worthy cause. This year, it will perform with Tommy Fleming at St Peter and Paul’s Church in Monasterevin, in aid of local schools. The concert will take place on October 12 next, and tickets are available locally.

- Laura Coates