If overwhelming crowds, great enthusiasm, and a splendid programme excellently carried out are any criterion of a successful gathering, the committee of the Kilkenny Gaelic League have every reason to congratulate themselves on the result of their Sgóruidheacht (on Monday evening) in honour of St Patrick’s Day. Not alone did the audience occupy every inch of available space in the League Room, but outside also there were twice as many people vainly endeavouring to gain admission as had succeeded in the first instance.
This, of course, was sadly disappointing to those pessimists (and worse) who have so frequently expressed the opinion that an audience could not be found in Kilkenny to patronise a solely Irish entertainment. But if these gentry got a big surprise in the dimensions of the audience, they received an even greater one in the very evident and frequently expressed appreciation of the audience of the various items on the programme, and for all time the lie was given to the statement that in order to secure the success of an entertainment in Kilkenny selections must be given from the inanities which delight the low class hordes of London or Lancashire, or from the vulgar caricatures by anti-Irish Irishmen of their own fellow countrymen. From first to last on Monday evening the programme was thoroughly Irish – one half the items being in the native language – and indeed, it was one of the most encouraging signs of the times we have noted in the city.
In the unavoidable absence of the President, the Rev P. Casey, S.T.L., who was officiating in St Kieran’s College, Mr F.P. Burke was moved to the chair amidst applause. Miss Archbold, to whom a special mention of praise is due for the very able manner in which she acted as accompanist to the various singers, opened the musical portion of the evening’s business by playing on the piano “Kathleen Mavoureen” in beautiful style. Miss Sparkes followed with a fine old Irish song, “Fáinne Geal an Lae”. Miss Lennon’s singing of “The Meeting of the Waters” was deservedly well received, and the chairman found considerable difficulty in enforcing his rule not to allow demands for an encore to be complied with when Miss Maggie Delaney had sung “Máire Ní Chuilleanáin.” This exquisite song in the days before Ireland lost to such an extent as at present the heritage of her ancient language was the most popular one in the country. Many generations, however, have in all probability passed away since it was heard in Kilkenny, but in any case it certainly was never better sung than on Monday last.
Mr. Lennon did justice to his reputation in “She is far from the Land”. The first part of the programme also included an Irish recitation from Mr. Kangley, songs in Irish by Mrs MacCullagh (“Shule Agra”) and Mr Brennan (“Father O’Flynn”) – the chorus of which was taken up with great gusto by the pupils attending the classes; Miss Quirke (“Erin, My Country”), a duet, “O! Where’s the Slave,” by Misses Ennis; and a quartet, “Let Erin Remember”, by Misses Ennis (2), Sparkes, and Fahy.
At this point the chairman distributed the prizes awarded to the successful pupils at the recent examination. The names have already been published. As each pupil came forward he or she was greeted with warm applause, which became quite an ovation when Master DeLoughrey returned thanks in a neat little speech in Irish.
The second portion of the programme was characterised by features as distinctly Irish as the first. Master DeLoughrey recited in brilliant fashion “Brian Boru’s Address to his Army”. Songs in the National language were sung by Mrs. MacCullagh (“The Snowy Breasted Pearl”), Miss Delaney (“Paistín Fionn”), Miss O’Brien (“Eileen Aroon”), Mr. Brennan (“Who Fears to Speak of ‘98”), and Mr. Farrell (“Sláinte na Gael”). In the chorus of the last song the pupils of the classes again made themselves heard to advantage. Miss Madigan played “The Culfhionn” very beautifully, and songs in English were sung by Miss Kenna (“The Green Shores of Erin”), Miss D’Arcy (“The Dear Little Shamrock”), Miss Lennon (“Silent O’ Moyle”), Miss Archbold (“Dark Rosaleen”), and Misses Ennis (2), Delaney, and Lennon, a quartet (“And doth not a meeting like this”). Each item was received with the greatest enthusiasm, as was also, needless to say, the chairman’s announcement that another Sgóruidheacht would be held at an early date.
Minutes of the Gaelic League from 18th March, 1901
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