One victory and one runner-up position was Tipperary’s return from four appearances in the National Final of the Macra National Talent Competition in The Helix Theatre, Dublin on Saturday night.
It was the 29th final of the competition which comprises eight entirely separate events namely Disco Dancing, Solo Instrumental Music, Solo Singing, Novelty Act, Mastermind, Set Dancing, Comedy and Pop/Folk/Ballad Group.
The first Tipp performer on stage was Patrick Kennedy of Clodagh Macra who was attempting to emulate his brother Rory’s feat last year by winning the Solo Instrumental Music title. In an event of very high quality Patrick, from Addane, Dolla and playing the piano, finished outside the top two. The winner was flute player Cian Farrelly from Collinstown Macra in Westmeath who had been runner-up to Rory Kennedy last year. Second place went to fiddle player Sheryl Corrigan from Redcross Macra club in Co. Wicklow. The fourth finalist was pianist Kate Thompson of Waterford City Macra.
Nenagh Macra member Michael Kirwan also finished out of the top two in Solo Singing despite his fine rendition of the Ed Sheeran song ‘Give Me Love’. The winner was Seamus McWeeney of South Leitrim Macra club with Ann Murphy from Kilcloon Macra in second place. The fourth finalist was Anne Murray from Crookstown Macra in Cork.
The second half of the Final proved to be a much more successful period for Tipperary. Con McGrath of Devil’s Bit Macra club got runner-up position in Comedy, losing out to a duo from Bantry Co. Cork who had a hilarious piece about a new calving jack being demonstrated on ‘Dragons Den’. The other finalists were from Redcross Co. Wicklow and Enfield, Co. Meath.
One of the highlights of the Macra National Talent Final is always the Pop/Folk/Ballad Group event which is the last item of the night. This year there were four excellent groups in the Final and a very close battle was expected.
Clodagh Macra had previously been runners-up on two occasions in this event, in 2008 and 2011. They had made a big effort to secure victory this year to go with their great double of Solo Instrumental Music and Solo Singing last year and Martin Ryan’s Mastermind success in 2009. The Clodagh group, comprising last year’s Solo Singing winner Anne Marie Kavanagh and her sister Claire from Rathmoy, Borrisoleigh, Karen Ryan from Cooleen, Templederry, sisters Maria and Laura Ryan from The Glebe House Borrisoleigh and Becky Prior, were the last performers of what was a fantastic National Final and they gave beautiful and excellent renditions of their two songs ‘Easy and Slow’ and ‘Ho ! Hey !’ to secure a great victory over Athboy, Co. Meath, winners on Clodagh’s previous two appearances in Ballad Group in the National Talent Final. The other two groups were from Fanebridge Macra in Co. Louth and Freemount Macra in Co. Cork.
The victorious Clodagh Ballad Group sextet and Comedy runner-up Con McGrath were presented with their respective engraved winners and runner-up trophies by Macra President Kieran O’Dowd on stage at the end of the night.