Brave Freshford makes song and dance of fighting back

    Niamh Kavanagh

    EUROVISION Stars Niamh Kavanagh, Paul Harrington and Charlie McGettigan join top local artists Lorraine Maher, Kate Cullen and the Deirdre Maher School of Dancing in a Eurovision Spectacular at St Lachtains Catholic Church, Freshford on November 15.

    The show is presented by RTE’s Nationwide presenter, Mary Kennedy).  Along with timeless Eurovision Classics from over 50 years of Eurovision, each artist will perform a fantastic individual programme.

    Rose of Tralee Musical Director Ollie Hennessy will lead an 11-piece Orchestra and Chorus.

    This is the first show in St Lachtain’s Church. Organisers thanked Fr Pat Comerford and Monsignor Kieron Kennedy for support.

    Profits will help to fund the community share of the Freshford Odeon Social Enterprise Initiative, a major regeneration programme for the village.

    The project, well received by Kilkenny County Council and Kilkenny Leader Partnership, has now reached Feasibility Study Stage.  

    Estimated cost of the study is €30,000.  Following completion of a tendering selection process, The Acorn Club must now raise €3,000 or 10% of these costs through the show to qualify for the balance through a recent Kilkenny Leaderw Partnership grant. 

    Iconic Odeon

    The iconic Odeon Cinema was an important thread woven in the the fabric of Freshford life for over 50 years.  

    It was the hub for the Golden Age of entertainment in Freshford. 

    This study will not only provide for the preservation of this building but will also examine to viability and sustainability of a diverse range of proposals in the Acorn Club’s proposal document.  

    These include the reopening of the Odeon as an Art Deco Cinema, provision of a 1,000-seat theatre with a flexible floor layout to suit exhibitions, cabaret, bar, café and restaurant, an outside broadcasting unit, library, local history museum, audio-visual centre and business incubation unit.  

    The facility would also become the hub for a number of International festivals and would aspire to becoming part of Kilkenny’s Subtitle International Film Festival and the Kilkenny Arts Festival.

    The proposal is strong on social inclusion with the new extensive facilities will be open daily and become the hub for all clubs, organisations and schools locally with a range of educational, lifestyle and wellness activities becoming available for all ages.

    Under threat

    “Freshford, like most rural communities, has been under threat for some time. Lack of opportunity, post office and local business closures, poor or neglected infrastruture, rural broadband and depopulation are some of the challenges facing us today.

    “The Freshford Health Check by Kilkenny County Council has not only highlighted the real problems we have but has also provided us with a strong basis for optimism and a template for postive change that can benefit us now and future generations,” Noel Cleere, chair Acorn Club told The Reporter. 

    “If we value our community and want it to survive and thrive, we must fight to preserve and develop it.

    “We must work together. The Government and semi-state bodies can help but ultimate responsibility for our rural future is ours alone.

    “Ballyhale is a wonderful example of what can be achieved when people work together. 

    The Odeon Project is the first step on a long road to making Freshford a vibrant business and commercial centre while providing the essential amenities and tangible quality-of-life opportunities that every socially-inclusive community needs to survive and thrive.

    “When you support the Eurovision Special, you are contributing in a meaningful way to a better future for youself, your family and your community,” Noel concluded.

    The stars

    Niamh Kavanagh has been singing for most of her life.  She is best known for her Eurovision successes, representing her country twice and winning for Ireland in 1993.  

    She has recorded many albums and collaborations, in particular lending her vocals to one of the best selling soundtrack albums of all time, The Commitments.

    Charlie McGettigan started his musical career in the 1960s in rock bands in Donegal. Moving to Dublin in 1968 he honed in on the thriving folk scene ther.

    In 1973, he formed the highly successful group Jargon, which went on to win the prestigious Letterkenny Folk Festival.

    Charlie has worked with Maura O’Connell and Eleanor Shanley who both recorded many of his songs including Feet of a Dancer, A Bed for the Night and If Anything Happened to You. 

    Charlie joined with Paul Harrington and Brendan Graham to win the 1994 Eurovision Song Contest for Ireland with Rock ‘n’Roll Kids.

    He has released many solo albums including In Your Old Room” Family Matters, The Man from 20 and Stolen Moments produced in Nashville by lBil Vorndick.

    Paul Harrington is from a very musical family in Killester. His chart successes, include hit albums, What I’d Say, Paul Harrington – A Collection.

    He famously won the Eurovision Song Contest with what is now widely regarded as one of the best Eurovision songs of all time, Rock ‘n’ Roll Kids.

    He released his brand new album last May. Lights of Home features nine original compositions and two live recordings of his classic hits – What I’d Say’and Rock ‘n’ Roll Kids.

    Mary Kennedy is one of Ireland’s best-loved broadcasters.

    Her career in RTE has spanned over three decades, including presenting the Eurovision Song Contest in 1995.

    She is co-presenter of Nationwide and author of the best-selling books What Matters, Lines I Love, Paper Tigers, Lines for Living.

    Her most recent book Home Thoughts from the Heart shows her depth of real character.

    Local stars

    Kate Cullen is 16, a 5th year student in Castlecomer Community School.

    Kate loves singing, especially Musical Theatre, and was awarded the Red Alchemy Musical Theatre scholarship in September.

    She’s been attending singing lessons with Seamus Brennan in Kilkenny since she was 10. Kate’s gran is Patty Corrigan who lives in Leugh, Threecastles.

    Kate has visited Prague House in Freshford to entertain residents.

    Lorraine Maher. Lorraine, Tullaroan, teaches at Loreto Secondary School, Kilkenny and has been singing and playing music all her life.  

    She recorded her first EP album in 2015 with the title Back Home to Carlow, written by a The Bard of Tullaroank, Paddy Fitzpatrick and produced by Noel Cleere. 

    She is a member of well known wedding singing group Three Tones.

    Lorraine’s sister Deirdre has choreographed A Tribute to Riverdance.  

    Deirdre Maher TCRG ADCRG started dancing at the age of four and won many titles. 

    She qualified as a teacher in 2005 and recently as an djudicator.

    She set up her dancing school in Tullaroan in 2005.  Her pupils have been very successful over the years winning numerous medals at Leinster and World Championships.

    Deirdre’s talented team consisting of Kate Delaney (11) from Williamstown together with Tullaroan’s Adam Coyne (12), Leona Lanigan (15) and Sydney Coyne (16) will be fantastic

    All artists have reduced their fees or are performing for free.  Local businesses have also been very generous.

    Support matters

    It’s important to realise that your ticket not only promises a great night out but also carries with it the added benefit of knowing that you are contributing in a meaningful way to a better future for youself, your family and your community.

    Tickets, €25, O Shea’s Freshford and @ or

    Group Books (8+) and further info, call Gerry at 087-266 3615.