The Fenor Choir
In proving foresight may be vain:
The best-laid schemes o’ mice an’ men
Gang aft a-gley,
An’ lea’e us nought but grief an’ pain,
For promis’d joy!”
[ Robert Burns, 1759-1796 ]
Who would have thought that a few wee mice could put an end to a choir? But they did! However, the choir fought back and was finally victorious, as you will learn from this piece by the choir’s musical director, Rita Byrne, who discovered the mice.
“There has been a choir in Fenor church since time immemorial but, by the early 1960s, the choir had ceased to function because the bellows of the harmonium had become the home of a colony of mice. In the 60s it was customary to have a parish mission every three years so it was necessary to have a choir for Mass and Benediction during the mission. The children’s choir in Fenor school was called on to fill the gap and so they continued from 1965 to 2005. The first job with the children was to teach the O Salutaris and the Tantum Ergo for Benediction and then the Mass of the Angels (in Latin) and Salve Regina for the Mass – all this without an organ. Confirmation came next with seven verses of Veni Creator, and Stations of the Cross during Lent had fourteen verses of Stabat Mater.
By the late 60s, the choir (now composed of school children and young teenagers) did a series of carol concerts and the proceeds, with the help of the Sale of Work, bought a very basic electric organ for the use of the school and church. This was the church organ until Father Purcell became parish priest and a beautiful Hammond organ was installed in our church. This organ was later replaced by the organ from Dunhill church which was not deemed to be of sufficient volume for the larger church.
By the early 70s the decrees of Vatican II were being implemented in the Irish Church. Quite suddenly the Latin language was replaced by English and, to the dismay of many, the beautiful chant was replaced by upbeat, catchy hymns – Bind Us Together and Kumbaya spring to mind. The young people loved the new music and, during the next twenty years, these were the norm at Masses throughout the world – Fenor was no exception.
It was the custom in our church to sing at Mass once a month with special Masses for St. Patrick’s day, Easter, and feasts of Our Lady. Fenor was blessed to have some wonderful young singers who sang solo pieces and the Psalms. Young people like Ann, Patricia, and T.P. O’Mahony, Yvonne Power, Eimear Hanley, Caitriona O’Boyle, Clodagh McElhinney, Colm and Muireann Byrne, and our present soloist Orla Forristal.
In 2008 a senior choir was organised in Fenor church and a committed group of singers came together to help with church celebrations. As was the custom, the church choir decided to sing once a month and on special Church holidays. Choir practice takes place most Tuesdays from 7:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. in Fenor church. It is a pleasure to be part of the very committed and enthusiastic group of singers who work so hard to make the celebration of Mass prayerful and meaningful. Fifty years on, Fenor Church Choir is still going strong.”
[ Rita Byrne, May 2010 ]