Look Back - Sligo Feis Ceoil

Sligo Feis Ceoil
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Since its inception in 1903 ,Sligo Feis Ceoil has welcomed and rewarded the finest musicians, artists and thespians to Sligo. Boasting a wide range of categories, Sligo Feis Ceoil is a renowned platform for budding artists and established talent to compete against like- minded and gifted individuals.
Competitors who Progressed
50 Years on ....In the 1969 Feis the Player Wills Bursary Competitions were won by Susan Boyd of Armagh in the vocal section and by 17 year old ‘Mimimin Vanecek’ in the violin class, the adjudicator commenting that she was ‘quite up to concert standard’. This is not surprising as her father was professor of violin and viola at the R.I.A.M. Dublin and later in London. A native of Bratislava he is recognised as one of Europe’s most accomplished violinists and renowned as a teacher. As an example of the preparatory work being done in schools, Summerhill College won the Ceili Band competition, Mary Clifford won the junior dancing championship and Ned McGoldrick the Percy French Song Contest. The time-consuming and arduous job of Feis Secretary was now carried out by Gladys McFadden.
In May that year Eugene Lambert, (a previous Feis Ceoil participant) and his R.T.E. Wanderly Wagon programme was shown in Finland, as part of the ‘European Television Series’.
40 years on......The 1979 Feis survived a financial crisis, a particularly cold spell and a postal strike. However, good news came from Player Wills who increased their Bursary from £600 to £2000. It was a much sought after cash bonus put to good use by former winners such as Michael O’Rourke (Sligo) and John O’Connor (Dublin)who became well known and renowned musicians.
Likewise this year’s winner Padraic O’Cuinneaghain pianist studied, graduated and became Head of Piano studies at the Schola Cantorum from 1984 to 2003 and is now a prominent recitalist and lecturer at D.I.T. College of Music. He said that “as tuition is very expensive, he could not have afforded it otherwise”.
The senior duologue was won by Robert Burnside and John Caheny, the Junior Duologue by Brid Feehily and Assumpta Kelly, the Jubilee Trophy by Teresa Doherty and the Kilcoyne children made their stage debut with a successful outcome.The raised Player Wills Bursary of £2000 was a huge attraction inviting contestants from afar and thus making it even more difficult for local competitors to win major awards.
The Bursary winner was Yvonne Egan, Dublin who also won the Isobel Bryson Cup.Sligo winners to emerge were Nicola Sharkey for Oratorio and Sacred Solo and Dramatic Solo Song; the Mercy Convent continuing their excellent record in choral singing, Sinead Harney winning Comhra Juvenile and the Kilcoyne Sisters, Emer, Una and Roisin well placed in prizewinners list. In the girls trio class Julie Kelly, Assumpta Kelly and Fidelma Morrison excelled while the ceili singing class was won by the amusingly named Brady Bunch.
In 1989, 14 year old Lorna Horan was awarded a Grant by the Fitzwilton Trust to enable her to continue piano studies at Chethams School of Music, Manchester. Gail Henry won the U-17 Solo Recorder Class while Maria McGarry won the Piggott Cup U-14 .Kian Egan and Edel Shannon are also included as prize-winners. At the official opening of the Feis, Mayor Lyons made a plea for public funding. Local winners were:- Joe O’Dowd Cup – Declan Foley, Innisfree Ceili Band, Ursuline School Orchestra, Austin O’Callaghan, Thomas and Gerard Staunton, The Pam Donaghy Ensemble, and The Fitzpatrick S.S.D won the Eddie Watson Cup. The I.C.A. choir competition still attracted entrants from a wide area. Athlone I.C.A. won on this occasion.
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