Sweet music and song at Haughney’s Orchard as St. Mary’s welcome travelling roadshow

Sylvia Roberts, who treated the audience to some spectacular music

Words: Peter Martin

Photos by jbs photos Kilkenny


There is no doubting that Kilkenny and her streets are full of history.

Walkin Street falls into that category.

Ask any resident from the area and they will give a glowing report of growing up on that patch.

In his book on ‘St. Rioch’s’, former brewery employee Tom Reade speaks of days of handball, hurling and soccer in The Fair Green and ‘pitch and toss’ at The Closh.

Hurling, it is said, was played in The Fair Green from early morning until darkness fell.

There was also memories of the circus visiting the area as well as ‘Fair days’, where young boys had a chance of making a few pence looking after cattle and sheep.

One landmark which is remembered with fondness is Haughney’s orchard.

Mrs Ellen Haughney’s house and orchard was beside the Fair Green, where the cinema is now located.

Older residents remember the orchard as having beautiful red apples.

Following the death of Mrs Haughney in 1945, the premises was purchased by Kilkenny Corporation.

In 2005 St Mary’s parish built houses and apartments on the land and it now includes St Mary’s day care centre which provides a range of activities including meals, recreational activities and health promotion.

The centre is just a hop, skip, and jump from The Kilkenny Observer office on Friary Street and so on Thursday of last week we called to join in the entertainment which was supplied by ‘Mobile music machine’.

And what a fantastic afternoon it was.

Over twenty people gathered for an afternoon of music and song.

The trio of musicians along with tenor Anthony Kearns entertained with work including opera, country and western, classical and Irish.

The musicians included Paul O Hanlon, (violin) Sylvia Roberts (violin) and Jenny Dowdall (cello).

Their repertoire included some fabulous songs from The White Horse Inn, The Arcadians, as well as great sing along numbers such as ‘Mamma Mia’ from Abba and ‘Phil the Fluther’s Ball’ from Percy French.

Mobile Music Machine was founded by cellist Gerald Peregrine and violinist Paul O’ Hanlon.

The company is a classical music education company, who specialise in delivering high quality, string ensemble workshops around the country.

Speaking to The Kilkenny Observer, tenor Anthony Kearns explained that they also deliver classes to schools which has the finest classical musicians working in Ireland today, and are high energy, interactive and engaging, for children of all ages.

Mr Kearns, from Kiltealy in Wexford, explained that the workshops are artfully curated and cover all areas of the music curriculum, and bring music to life for children and teachers alike.

Having spent over an hour at the centre, one thing was certain, and that is that good singers and music is alive and well . Those attending enjoyed themselves as was evident from the applause and the singing.

Before we left we spoke to Reggie Gibson, manager at the centre.

Mr Gibson said he was delighted with the afternoon and made the point that if you can create this kind of happiness with song music and laughter, it makes the world a better place.

“Having endured all the hardship over the past few years, it is lovely to be able to enjoy a beautiful afternoon such as this”, said Reggie.

We go along with that Reggie.

Definitely a feather in the cap for St Mary’s Day Care Centre.

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