DkIT Musicians Perform at Birr Castle

Students from DkIT's section of music played in Birr Castle recently.

One of the Earl of Rosse's most treasured possessions, an early 19th century Egan harp, was given a new lease of life at a concert in Birr Castle last Sunday to an invited audience. Restrung, polished and played by Dr Helen Lawlor, of DkIT's Department of Music and Creative Media, the beautiful and unique sound of the harp was heard once again in its home for two hundred years, the Music Room at Birr. Helen's programme of O'Carolan music was performed in the original style of the early harpers, and brought many a tear to the eye of an enraptured audience. To gild the lily, so it were, the Egan harp was joined by another rare stringed instrument, the Chinese pipa, which had been played in the courts of the 2nd century Han dynasty. Not that particular instrument, of course, but a replica, played by Malaysian Year 1 music student Ling Wei Chua, a champion practitioner on this beautiful instrument.

The occasion was a return visit to Birr Castle, on the invitation of Lord and Lady Rosse, by DkIT musicians and singers. Baritones Páidí Ó Dubháin and Dermot O'Connor, accompanied by Siubhán Ó Dubháin performed a programme of operatic arias and sean-nós songs, reflecting the diverse collection of music in the Birr Castle archives. Páidí, who graduated from DkIT in 2008 is in his final weeks of a Masters course in Opera and Vocal Studies in London's Guildhall. Dermot is a final year student at DkIT specialising in Classical Performance. Violinist Dr Eibhlís Farrell played pieces from an early edition of Moore's melodies from the Birr archive. Eibhlís and the singers were joined by Dr Daithí Kearney and members of the Ceol Oirghialla Traditional Music Ensemble under his direction, including music students Damhnait McKenna, Gillian Powers, and Ling Wei Chua, and also Head of Music, Ms Adele Commins and Dr Helen Lawlor, bringing the evening to a close with a lively collection of dance music featuring tunes from Counties Offaly, Louth and Down.

Joining the Parsons family in the audience of invited guests were Ms Marcella Corcoran-Kennedy T.D., Professor Michael Murphy, President of UCC, Dr Salters Sterling, Emeritus Academic Secretary of TCD, Viscount de Vesci of Abbeyleix, Mr Richard Wood of Rockrohan, Co Cork, Ms Grace Pym of Bealachmór Castle, and Mr Denis Cummins, President, and Mr Andrew Griffith, Chair of DkIT Governing Body and Mrs Cummins and Mrs Griffith.