Home » Arts & Culture » Viral success as musicians ‘seize the day’ for Eimear
Mary Noonan, representing the Eimear Noonan's Music Bursary, seated with the late Eli Murray's piano, and Katharina Baker, director of Coole Music, celebrating the success of Carpe Diem 2020. Photograph by John Kelly

Viral success as musicians ‘seize the day’ for Eimear

A MUSICAL challenge in memory of the late Caher woman, Eimear Noonan, has gone viral, attracting over 400 online performances, across all genres and styles. Carpe Diem Sing and Play: Remembering Eimear has also raised thousands of Euro for a bursary for music students, which is taking applications up until this Saturday.

The online challenge was the brainchild of Eimear’s brother Michael and driven by a dedicated team involving family and friends, who have marked, in an extra special way, the third anniversary of the young musician’s untimely passing.

“The response across the globe has been phenomenal,” said Eimear’s mother, Mary. “The purpose of Carpe Diem is to support music education and performance and was given a whole new audience as talented young players, together with seasoned musicians and household names, shared their gift of art and music-making for two wonderful lockdown weeks, this November. The music continues to roll in as over 150 performances have yet to be shared. Carpe Diem are hugely indebted to massive number of performers, audience and supporters who made this year’s online event so very special. Míle Buíochas.”

Fiona Buckley, a Coole Music volunteer and Katharina Baker conceived of the original Carpe Diem concept in early 2018. In previous years, the initiative involved concerts in Gort on Eimear’s anniversary. The name, which means ‘seize the day’, was chosen, according to Mary, because it encapsulates Eimear’s “joie de vivre and love of all things musical”.

“2020 posed new challenges for Carpe Diem,” Mary said. “During the summer, while on holidays from London, Michael, Eimear’s brother came up with the idea of an online musical challenge based loosely on the infamous Ice Bucket Challenge of a few years back, where music friends of Eimear, Coole Music and the Keehan and Noonan family would take up the challenge to Sing And Play, Recite or Dance over a two-week period in November and nominate others to continue the challenge. Proceeds from this online challenge go towards music education for young people in the west of Ireland and the funds divided evenly between Coole Music and Arts and The Eimear Noonan Music Bursary.”

Committee members, Paula, Ellie, Michael, Millie, Fiona and Tommy have been working ten hours a day for the duration of the challenge, which was launched earlier this month by Martin Hayes and Katerina Baker. “It’s been a case of horses for courses,” said Mary. “We’ve all brought different skills to the committee and Millie Cooper from Cork is a young marketing student in London, who has been instrumental in bringing the challenge to 90,000 people and generating 28,000 engagements.”

This year’s anniversary was made all the more poignant following the death of Eli Murray (20), another young local musician. He died suddenly in the UK in July of last year after experiencing diabetic shock. “Where words fail, music speaks,” Mary said. “Eli’s memory and life were also celebrated in a special tribute played at the wonderful Carpe Diem concert in 2019. Eli’s request, days before he died, was to have his piano shipped to the UK, where he was a student. Sadly, it never happened. Eli’s parents, Fintan and Ali have since donated this beautiful instrument to Katherina and the Baker Family. Katherina feels the spirit of both Eli and Eimear in her music room, where she feels they would have happily jammed together with her teenagers if the occasion had arisen.”

Donations to the Carpe Diem page have exceeded the committee’s wildest dreams with over €25k raised to-date. Coole Music plan to use their funds to extend their instrument fund, making instruments available to their student cohort and to consolidate and extend the creative side of their activities.

The Eimear Noonan Music Bursary intends to support a greater number of third-level music students, and further support music performance for young people in the community.

Eimear, who passed away after a tragic accident while teaching in Annonay in France in 2017, was an avid and inspirational musician, who studied under a number of teachers in different genres. She began her orchestral studies under Katharina Baker, Director of Coole Music and Arts. She continued her love of bringing music to the masses, while studying at University College Cork (UCC), where she was hugely involved the college orchestra. The final date for applications to her bursary fund is November 21 and full details can be found on eimearnoonanmusicbursary.net.

About Fiona McGarry

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Fiona McGarry joined The Clare Champion as a reporter after a four-year stint as producer of Morning Focus on Clare FM. Prior to that she worked for various radio, print and online titles, including Newstalk, Maximum Media and The Tuam Herald. Fiona’s media career began in her native Mayo when she joined Midwest Radio. She is the maker of a number of radio documentaries, funded by the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland (BAI). She has also availed of the Simon Cumbers Media Fund to report on development issues supported by Irish Aid in Haiti. She won a Justice Media Award for a short radio series on the work of Bedford Row Project, which supports prisoners and families in the Mid-West. Fiona also teaches on the Journalism programmes at NUI Galway. If you have a story and would like to get in touch with Fiona you can email her at fmcgarry@clarechampion.ie or telephone 065 6864146.

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