Banagher Trinity Gospel Choir hosted their third Christmas Concert by Candlelight on Monday December 16 last and it saw crowds gather in St Rynagh's Church, Banagher to enjoy an evening of wonderful festive music and song as well as raise funds for several charities.
Thrilled with the night's success, choir leader Corrine enthused “every year is special and magical for us but there was something different about this year. It surpassed all our expectations and the feedback from people is so heartwarmning,” she said.
The choir started their preparations in September and encouraged students to join. This being one of their biggest attendance with almost 50 pupils coming from St Rynaghs NS, St Cronans NS, and Banagher College.
This year, they wanted to have a strong message running through their concert and that message was one of ‘hope’. The charities chosen for this year's concert offer people hope every day of the year and it was important for the choir to raise vital funds for these groups.
The High Hopes Choir is Ireland’s first homeless choir and they attended from Dublin. They were joined by local singers Dickie Donnelly and Colin Kenny and it was a most memorable night.
“The amount of text messages and calls I received the next day was incredible,” Corrine told the 'Tribune'. “People felt emotional but yet lifted and one message stuck out for her ‘ your message of hope was not lost on any of us,” she continued.
Spokesperson Corrinne explained when she started preparations for the concert she wanted to not only raise funds but to give back to those, who are in most need. “I've been following the work of Focus Ireland, voluntary groups in Dublin, who feed the homeless and another charity, close to our hearts is Gianna Care, who offer support to women in crisis pregnancies. We quickly decided in the choir we wanted to do more. So every week, we had a collection at our choir practice where kids, adults and the public could drop us off clothing, sleeping bags, toiletries, drinks snacks etc. We had an appeal in our local community center, which saw so many local people bringing us items.”
Corrinne extended a word of thanks to Eileen and all the staff in St Vincent De Paul for their kind donations. “We made contact with The Homeless Street Cafe in Dublin, who operate every Tuesday on Grafton Street. They told us they rely every week on people’s kindness to feed the 200 plus homeless people who come to them. Without receiving water, toiletries, baby products, food supplies they can not function. We threw ourselves into ensuring they had enough supplies and thanks to so much generosity locally we brought a van full to the roof of supplies to Dublin on Tuesday December 17.”
The welcome received in Dublin by volunteers and the homeless is something that will stay with Corrinne and her fellow choir members forever. “We brought hope from our concert to them and will continue on this journey in our choir to help others. It was heartbreaking what we witnessed in Dublin but the gratitude was unbelievable. They appreciate so much any help you can give. To see children, pregnant ladies waiting for food broke my heart but thanks to wonderful people in our country they got a wholesome hot meal and supplies to take with them.”
Meanwhile, the Concert by Candlelight this year saw wonderful crowds in St Rynagh’s Church for what was a special evening of the story of Christ, the feeling of Christmas but remembering all those who have fallen on hard times and the hope of a better future for them all. The gospel choir raised €3,830 after running costs, which include sound lighting, printing and items required for the concert the funds remaining. which will be distributed is €2543.60. The funds will be allocated as follows: €1000 to Focus Ireland , €1000 to Homeless Street Cafe (for meat vegetables and supplies to feed the homeless) & €543.60 to Gianna Care.
Corrinne and the choir would like to thank everyone for their support people’s kindness, which helped make all this possible. A word of thanks to Glenisk, who contributed a large supply of yogurts. Tullamore Motors, who supplied the van and to our sponsors, who paid for the bus to bring the High Hopes choir from and back to Dublin. Those sponsors were Banagher Concrete, Inland and Coastal, Justin and Majella Conneelly, Banagher Credit Union, Silver Line Cruisers and Bank of Ireland. Thank you to those who supplied raffle prizes including Banagher Credit Union, The Stables Emporium, Birr Castle, Birr Leisure Centre, Aubrey Claffey Kreations, Longford Panto and Kinnitty Castle. To everyone who gave their time to help at the concert and to Karl and Jenny Duffy from Crank Rd restaurant Banagher, who looked after the High Hopes Choir so well and fed everyone complimentary. A new business starting out and so generous we wish them well. Thank you to Pat McKeon Photography and to the all the public who supported us and gave to our appeal. Happy Christmas and a Peaceful New Year to you all.
If you would like to donate to the next run going to Dublin the end of January please contact Corrinne on (087) 3364418. They are currently looking for Baby Wipes, Nappies, Roll on deodorant, shower gel, shampoo, conditioner, bottled water, crisps, chocolate, baby food , cans of fizzy pop, tooth paste, tooth brushes and sanitary items.