NORTH Clare native Anne Droney Kirrane (pictured) will be a guest of the Ennis Singers Club at their next get-together on Friday, April 12.
The singers’ club is something of an institution in the county town. “It was founded in 1996 by the late Peadar McNamara, Philip Brennan and George Henderson, who’s now in Bray and involved with the singers’ club there. There were a good few involved in the beginning and it was in Brandon’s for years. Then it moved out to Éire Óg and after that it went into the bar at Cois na hAbhna,” says PRO Anne Whelan.
They meet on the second Friday of every month and is one of a number of such clubs in the county, with others in Doonbeg, Fanore and Crusheen as well as a hugely popular one in Shanaglish in South Galway.
Hosting a special guest every month, there is usually a good attendance of singers and listeners. “There are plenty of spectators and a good audience, on any given night you’d have 15 to 20 people who will sing and the guest sings every fourth song. Everyone sits at their own table or at the bar or by the wall or wherever, it’s very casual. Not everyone there would be an expert singer but some are very good.”
Robbie McMahon was president of the club prior to his death last December. Anne said while he was a regular attendee, occasionally he would be the special guest and would inevitably draw a large crowd.
She says over the years many people who went on to have successful careers were guests. “Every September we have Francis Kennedy and that’s our best night of the year. She’s a comedian and singer and she does a lot of the festivals. She has an outrageous sense of humour! Last year we had Orla Keane from Caherlistrane, Matt Keane’s daughter and it was full. Over the years we’ve had a lot of people, people who are famous now but who were starting out then.”
Long domiciled in Tuam, Anne Droney Kirrane is originally from Belharbour and is a daughter of Chris Droney, one of the most respected concertina players in the country, and Clareman of the Year in 2012.
After learning the concertina from her dad, Anne won three All-Ireland Fleadh Ceoil awards. She moved to Tuam for work reasons and began singing with the local musical society.
Her album. One Small Star. was relaunched last November in Ennis, recorded as a tribute to her late husband.
Speaking about the album to The Clare Champion at the time, she said, “It’s a fairly wide-ranging CD in terms of genres of music, there’s a bit of gospel, contemporary songs, folk and a bit of trad. Since I was playing concertina long before I ever sang a song, I said that I’d throw in a few tunes that I composed myself.”