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Steo Wall performs at the launch of Ennistymon CBS Arts Week in the local library. Photograph by John Kelly

Fundraising Christmas Choir returns to Ennis after its Covid-enforced break

A FESTIVE concert with a jam-packed line up of talent from Clare and beyond will raise funds to support the vulnerable this Christmas.
For the past few years campaigner Josie O’Brien has organised a concert in glór to raise awareness of homelessness while also raising funds to purchase food hampers for those in need.
Last year’s event was cancelled due to Covid-19, however the ‘Christmas Choir’ concert will return on December 18 of this year.
Luka Bloom will feature as special guest alongside plenty more acclaimed talent, including Mike Hanrahan; The Fiddle Case; Eoin O’Neill and Clara Buteler; Sarah Ryan; Anne Rynne; Trevor Hansbury; John Fennell (Sean Nós); Sara Ryan (Sean Nós); Steo Wall: Fay Moloney and the Cork Penny Dinners High Hopes Choir with more guests to be announced.
There will also be pre-concert music in the foyer with singer Susanne Murphy accompanied by Fiona Faulkes on piano. Kevyn Murphy is Master of Ceremonies for the evening.
Josie told The Champion she is delighted that the concert will be held once again this year.
“This will be our third year having the concert because it didn’t happen last year because of Covid which was disappointing. Everything is organised now for this year and it’s going to be a brilliant night.”
Previous concerts have been headlined by The Hothouse Flowers who have been a major support of the cause, however due to a conflict of dates they were not able to be involved this year.
However, singer Anne Rynne who is a good friend of Josie used her family connections to secure her brother Luka Bloom for the headline slot.
“Anne rang me one night and said I’ve good news for you, Luka is going to sing at the concert. It was just fantastic. To be honest, we never really have to go looking for people to get involved, people tend to just put themselves forward.
“So many big names have come out and supported us over the years which is just amazing to see.”
The concert has certainly come a long way from when Josie first came up with the idea one summer while watching a Christmas movie.
“I thought we would only be doing this for one year, but people just thought it was great and it’s gone from there.
“It’s always a fantastic night and as soon as it’s over we’re booking for the show the following year.”
Josie acknowledged the support that glór have shown in helping with the event. “They have just been absolutely brilliant. It was Orla Flanagan the director who suggested that we have the music in the foyer this year.
“I kept in contact with glór on a regular basis with all the restrictions and everything with Covid and they have just been great.
“After we had to cancel last year’s concert we had to get a different date for this year, and we got December 18 which was fantastic because it’s only a week before Christmas.
“The concert will be a great way to get some festive cheer and excitement while also helping others.”
Despite the cancellation of last year’s concert Josie and her group of volunteers still managed to help many families.
“It was disappointing for us to have to cancel the concert. The money raised from the event goes towards putting together hampers for families so they can have proper dinners, and we do them for people as far away as Limerick.
“I usually have a list of families to contact, and they are all genuine cases, and they come and collect the hampers on December 23.
“When we had the concert it was great because we could get whatever meat people wanted for the hampers, lamb or beef or chicken of whatever. But last year we could only do chicken and ham, there was no choice.
“We still put out a couple of hundred hampers even though we didn’t have the concert, but we wanted to do more and give people a choice. These hampers are given to people who are not in a position to cook for themselves at home, who are going through a hard time financially.
“While we wanted to do more for them, they were delighted with the hampers that they received.”
With this year’s concert going ahead, Josie is hopeful that even more families will be supported this Christmas.
She added, “As well as supporting people with the hampers, the concert it also good for the town. We have groups like the Penny Dinners coming from Cork and staying in local hotels, then we have the butcher who we buy the meat from, this supports the local economy.”
She is encouraging people to come along on for a night of festive cheer on December 18. She adds that all new and existing ticket holders are required to show proof of Covid-19 Vaccination Certificate on entry and the wearing of mask/face covering is compulsory at all times inside the building.

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