On Saturday last, September 26th, 11 members of the Shannon Folk Group embarked on trip to Silvermines (Co. Tipperary) at the invitation of Sheelagh Chadwick and her local folk choir. The trip had been planned for a number of months but the summer break meant that we were not be in a position to travel until late September. We were joining forces to celebrate the 20:00 mass (celebrating the harvest) at Our Lady Of Lourdes church in the village of Silvermines.
The parish of Silvermines, as we know it today, consists of four former parishes. They were Ballinaclough, Dolla, Downamona and Kilmore. Over a period of time these parishes were joined or amalgamated and formed the parish of Kilmore. In time the names of this and many other parishes were changed by common usage especially at the beginning of the eighteenth century and particularly where there was a shift in the centre of population. And so gradually Kilmore parish became known as the parish of Silvermines because the most populous area of the parish was the village of Silvermines.
The initial plan for the evening was that the Shannon Folk Group would sing a song (or two) and the two folk groups would sing a piece together. The Choir Leaders worked on a repertoire for the night and it was agreed that Shannon would sing the Entrance Hymn (With All My Heart by Tom Kendzia) and the Offertory (Where Two Or Three Are Gathered by Liam Lawton). Both Shannon and Silvermines groups would combine to sing at Communion (Love Is The Boat by Ian Callanan). All of the other pieces on the night were to be sung by the local Silvermines Choir.
We arrived to a warm welcome from Fr. Brendan Moloney (a Clare man in exile) and Sheelagh Chadwick. The Silvermines choir were initially surprised at the small size of our travelling team but what we were missing in quantity we made up for with quality!
We had our first rehearsal of the joint piece and got to practice our two pieces in the magnificent church (we had the added bonus of having a splendid local flautist to accompany us on our pieces). The night was a special mass celebrating The Harvest. Presentations celebrating all aspect of parish living were brought up during the Offertory of the mass and the altar was appropriately decorated for the occasion.
Silvermines Folk Choir was formed about 9 years ago and sings at mass once a month in the local church. They are an adult choir and have 10 men and 17 ladies as well as having many young instrumentalists. We were joined by a local keyboard player and a flautist.
The singing was wonderful and the acoustics in the church were like nothing that we would experience here in Shannon. The Shannon Folk Group sang one other song on the evening at the Communion Reflection (Into The Quiet by Liam Lawton).
After mass was over, the Silvermines group invited us back to Hickeys (a pub located right outside the church gates) where a fantastic spread of sandwiches and cakes was ready and waiting for all. Most of both choirs went back to avail of the hospitality and, given that there were lots of musicians and singers, the sing-song went on to the early hours of Sunday morning. We had songs and recitations from Clare and Tipperary and amazing songs from South Africa.
It was agreed that a return visit should be arranged where Shannon will host our new friends. This will build great relationships across the groups as well as developing the repertoire of both choirs. We in Shannon Folk Group look forward to the return visit and we are also looking at other Folk based groups in the Dioceses with a view to forming similar alliances, broadening our repertoire and introducing new sounds to the Parish of Shannon.