Michael Lonergan reflects on 50 years with the Musical Society

Michael Lonergan: a great stalwart of Carrick-on-Suir Musical Society. | Photo: Dennis Barry

Michael Lonergan: a great stalwart of Carrick-on-Suir Musical Society. | Photo: Dennis Barry

Unknown to Michael Lonergan but to everyone on the Musical Society circuit, a surprise was adrift.

After the last bow of ‘Hello Dolly’, a roar from the audience and standing ovation as the curtain fell on March 7th after another unbelievable performance from the Musical Society team, Michael Lonergan, Corporate and Patrons’ Secretary and Musical Society veteran performer was asked to step up on stage.

A pictorial tribute was presented to him by Chairman Martin Morrissey to mark and honour his 50 years with the Society.

Fifty years among friends, having great fun, all entwined in a vibrant package of rehearsals, dancing singing and Showtime. A surprise indeed and one Michael will treasure.

“I became a member of the Carrick-on-Suir Amateur Operatic Society in 1965 at only 15, for the final Pantomime ‘Robin Hood’ in the Forester’s Hall,” said Michael, “back then you had to sing the scales with Dora Coady on the piano to establish if you were a Tenor, Baritone or Bass.”

Michael recalled the wonderful inspirational people of the Society and the vibrancy of the members from way back to the present time that has been an ‘amazing experience’ in his lifetime.

Michael has been involved on stage or on committee over the last 50 years. In 1971 he was elected to the committee taking on various roles to include Chairman/Vice Chairman, President and PRO – his favorite role.

“Now I look after Corporate Sponsors and Patrons which gives the Society much needed funds towards staging a show every year.”

He has had many roles on stage as well performing in the Foresters Hall, Ormonde Hall, Presentation Hall, CBS Hall, The Strand Theatre and the Gaiety Theatre in Dublin and has worked under many Directors/Producers over the years such as “Jerry Moran, Peter Reynolds, Kevin Byrne, Josephine Scanlon, Fr Matt Cunningham, Jimmy Belchamber, Pat Power, Dick Meany, Cathal McCabe, Tony Finnegan, Liam Butler and Padraig Sheehan”.
Musical Directors during Michael’s 50 years have included Dora Coady, Jerry Moran, Sr. Canice, Vincent Cleary, Stanley Bowyer, Michael Ingoldsby, Danny Carroll, Olga Gannon, Fergal Carroll, Damian O’Brien and Catriona O’Dwyer and Choreographers Betty McGrath, Nancy Power, Geraldine Molumby, Patricia Woods and Mary Power.

“We have won many AIMS awards, the first with Dick Meany in 1973 in ‘The Golden Years’ and many more since and have won the Waterford international Festival of Light Opera on two occasions.”

Michael recalled the Society getting their first premises in Greystone Street in 1997 and then the move to the Strand Theatre where a mammoth renovation project created a ‘state-of-the art’ theatre that opened in 2003.

Paying tribute to the ‘many great people involved in the society down through the years all now gone to their eternal rest’ Michael recalled Gerry Moran, Christy Butler, Dora Coady, Nancy Power, Mary Kelly, Pat Drohan, Catherine Nolan, Paddy Boland, John Stuart, Noel Treacy, Dick Meany and Fada Coady and how much they contributed to the development of the Society.

Michael also paid tribute to Padraig Sheehan and the late Dick Meany who “worked tirelessly over the years for the Society in the purchase and refurbishment of the theatre and the setting up of our Youth Academy.”
Michael praised the Youth Academy of ‘Rising Stars’ whose membership boasts over a 100 children from the town, surrounding villages and beyond.

“It also generates revenue for the Theatre’ he said, adding that he would advise any young person to become involved in community groups, clubs, sport for the camaraderie, focus and fun which also builds great friendships, nurtures talent and promotes confidence.

Michael was worked for Eircom for 40 years, retiring in 2008. This gives him more time to enjoy his many commitments of which the Carrick-on-Suir Musical Society is one, and that will continue for many years.
Will he return to the stage? “Yes if the part is right”, he grins. Michael is also a member of the Castleview Lawn Tennis Club, loves the game and was Treasurer from 1972 to 2002.

He is actively involved with St Vincent de Paul, St. Nicholas Conference and has been with them for over 30 years. A special medal was presented to him to mark his 21 years of service.

He spoke of the great commitment of all involved with the SVP, the rewarding role of being able to help out and also the commitment of the St. Colman’s Youth Conference in Carrick, which has over 30 young people at its helm.

Michael smiles and he talks with great affection about his mother Lucy Lonergan from Greystone Street.
At 92 years, Lucy is almost blind yet still very active. No longer able to read or watch her favorite soaps, Lucy listens to the radio, loves a good chat and enjoys feeling the heat of the sun. Despite her failing sight Lucy still loves life. And so does her son Michael who may grace the Strand Theatre stage sooner than we think.

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