For over three decades the multi-talented and jolly Monks Carol Singers have been in harmony to bring the spirit of Christmas to Thurles.
They are familiar figures outside Tesco, Thurles Shopping Centre or AIB Bank annually at Yuletide and they entertain the populace with perennial Christmas favourites for six of the twelve days of Christmas, including Saturday and Sunday afternoons.
This year is no exception and Peter Lanigan of the group said that the response has always been heartening, especially in recession times.
The group have contributed some €65,000 to good causes locally over the years, including St. Vincent De Paul, Meals On Wheels, Thurles, Mental Health Group, Thurles Day Care Centre, Thurles Community
Hospital of the Assumption, Suir Haven Cancer Support Centre, Thurles, Inclusive Opportunities, Thurles and Tipperary Talking Newspaper for the visually impaired. Now, that’s the true meaning of Christmas!
Peter, who is a regular vocalist at the weekly Monks traditional night on Wednesdays, is absolutely delighted that kind folks have supported them so brilliantly in these difficult times.
Gifted harmonica player, Vic Heywood, prepares the books of carols for the group who are always taking in new members. Vic does a lovely job on the books which have a Christmas aspect about them to enhance the happy and colourful mood of the season of peace and joy.
Traditional music has been played for well over 30 years on a Wednesday night in the Monks hostelry, Thurles, and many great musicians and singers have graced these nights regularly over the years.
Eoghan O ‘Neill from Rosegreen, who plays with “Celtic Women”, is no stranger to the Monks on his nights off in Ireland. And former Republic of Ireland striker, Niall Quinn, has been a visitor to the Monks. His sister, Annemarie Dwyer, is one of the Monks Carol Singers.
It is all thanks to Michael O'Gorman (“The Monk”) and his family who embraced the music on his return from Dublin to take over the running of his family's pub, O'Gorman’s of Mitchel Street, Thurles. Michael's hospitality to all local and visiting musicians is hailed as unique in many ways and for this he is to be congratulated as it presents a positive image of Thurles for the many visitors from all over the world who enjoy the Wednesday night session as an integral part of their visit.
Ciaran Hanrahan recorded his first “Ceili House”, ably assisted by musician, Pat Costello, from the Monks, and Ciaran has used parts of the script for that night in some of his “Ceili House” recordings. To raise money for the local Guardian Angel School a tape was recorded, “Live at The Monks”, and then, following on from that, a CD was recorded (“Ag Cuardaiocht ag an Monks” and a large sum of money was raised for charity from the sales).
Then there was the night with the D'Unbelieveables, Pat Shortt and Jon Kenny. One of the proudest people there on that night was long serving Wednesday night musician, Pat's dad, Christy. This was recorded in conjunction with a programme being compiled for television about Pat and Jon's native towns and their association with the goings on in them.
Singer/song-writer. Mick Hanly, has also visited The Monks.
When the last County Fleadh Cheoil was held in Thurles, the Monks hosted many singers and musicians from around Tipperary and beyond, including Joe Barry, renowned piper from Templemore, John Ryan, Willie Fogarty, Nenagh, Nora Butler (Nenagh), famous for her ballad singing, Michael Harty, Cahir, and the legendary Eileen O’BrienMinogue who has a CD out, “Aon Le Haon”.
Great musicians who frequented the Monks also include All-Ireland champion, Phil Murray, from Upperchurch, violinist, Teresa Bourke, of “Lord of the Dance” renown, Teresa Larkin, Roscrea, who has made many recordings and of, course, the many who play every Wednesday night, to the delight of tourists and locals. Folks such as Paul Byrne, Dixie Byrne, Sean Byrne, Tony Power, Timmy Lyons, Paddy Gleeson, Toss Hayes, Johnny McCarthy, Johnny Barnaville, Peter Lanigan.