By Fr Richard Scriven
At a meeting of the parishioners of St Mary’s in the Cathedral Sacristy on Sunday October 18 1857, it was calculated that the ‘organist and quire-assistants’ would probably account for an expenditure of £50 per annum, and at a subsequent gathering it was proposed by John Callanan, T.C., and seconded by John Feehan, T.C., “that the salary of the present organist be twenty pounds per annum, to be paid to her in August next”.
The ‘her’ in this case referred to the first organist of the cathedral, Miss Coffey, who, until her disappearance from the account-books in 1865 ruled her choir from a small organ in the south transept of the cathedral, a transept now knows as the site of the Little Flower shrine.
Mr Whyte of Dublin, who apparently supplied the first organ, presided at the instrument for the consecration of the cathedral and Herr Stoedkell, B.M., of the 16th Lancers conducted the choir.
Miss Coffey was followed in rapid succession by Miss Dunny, 1865, during whose term the present Cathedral organ was installed; G Morosini, 1867, – a pupil of the composer pianist Thalberg; Miss O’Brien, 1871, and Mrs Somers, 1872, the latter being probably a member of the choir advanced in ‘stressful time” to the post, and apparently unequal to the training of the choir, a duty which was undertaken for “some months” by Mr. Washington, a member of the teaching staff of the Model School.
At any rate, by 1873, Mr John Fallon had assumed the duties of the organist, and Mrs Somers had reverted to the ranks.
A notice in the Kilkenny Journal of February 1878, referred with pleasure to a new Mass composed by Mr Fallon and augured that it “would add largely to the high musical reputation acquired by the well skilled and versatile composer”.
He died in 1878 and Mr August Moosmair followed him as organist.
The newcomer must have left very quickly, since, Ms Donegan played temporarily for “several months” and received a reward of £5 for her pains on the appointment of Mr McDonnell in 1879.
In October 1881 Miss Donegan was again appointed and on her retirement in 1905 Most Rev. Dr Brownrigg, in appreciation of her devoted services, presented her with a gift of £100.
Mr Rudolph Nieermann, who came in 1906 – Mr Carl Mueller of St Kieran’s College was the organist during the interregnum – relinquished the office to Mr Corry in 1907 and Mr. Koss succeeded in 1912.
During the five years, 1917-1922, Miss Josephine McGrath supplied the organist’s round of duties.