‘There’s a grand stretch in the evenings and brighter days ahead’

Sacred music: Olwyn Trant, Lillie and Jean Foley and Noel O’Sullivan performing in St Mary’s Cathedral

A POWERFUL, emotion-charged concert featuring quality music from a diverse range of artists, from Glen Hansard to Jimmy MacCarthy and from Édith Piaf to the soundtrack from The Greatest Showman, filled the splendid St Mary’s Cathedral in Killarney last night as well as being live-streamed to sitting rooms in many parts of the world.

The one-off concert – billed as a night of songs and music to lift the spirit – featured the wonderful talents of local performers, pianist Noel O’Sullivan, violinist Olwyn Trant and singing sisters Lillie and Jean Foley.

It was, in essence, a celebration of the great resilience demonstrated in Killarney during the course of the 12-month pandemic and the evening was enhanced further by reflections and poetry from Fr Niall Howard of Killarney Parish.

The concert opened on a haunting note with a power-packed rendition of Mise Éire and, among several other numbers, the Foley sisters also delivered memorable performances of The Bright Blue Rose (Jimmy MacCarthy), For Good (from Wicked), Falling Slowly (Glen Hansard and Markéta Irglová) and a stunning version of Édith Piaf’s La Vie en Rose.

Singing sisters Lillie and Jean Foley

Olwyn Trant, a teacher in the Holy Cross Mercy Primary School, contributed a brilliant medley from The Greatest Showman and, as well as accompanying all performers, Noel O’Sullivan, who teaches at St Oliver’s National School in Ballycasheen, recited a moving rendition of Brendan’s Kennelly’s inspirational poem Begin.

“February is a very long month for everybody and we thought it would be great to do something to lift the spirits,” Noel explained.

“We’re here to reflect and to draw faith, hope and strength from our shared humanity. The human spirit is resilient. Somebody described this concert as a chink of light and I hope it is,” added Noel who said it was reassuring for everybody to be coming out of the darkness and into a new spring.

Fr Niall Howard shares a reflection

“Everybody is walking their own walk and fighting their own struggles. But, as the saying goes, there’s a grand stretch in the evenings and we hope there are brighter days ahead,” he stated.

Lillie and Jean Foley, members of Killarney Musical Society, sing all genres, from classical to musical theatre, blues, pop and jazz and everything in between. Lillie is currently studying for a degree in Performing Arts in the University of Limerick and Jean has just finished her grade eight singing exams.

Olwyn Trant is a very accomplished violinist who has been involved with music in the church from a very young age and continues to perform with her sisters for weddings and other events as well as Killarney Musical Society.

Noel O’Sullivan was the creative force behind the Teen Spirit phenomenon that packed venues to capacity some years back. A talented pianist and guitarist, he plays in local hotels and restaurants.