The Waterford-Omagh Peace Choir is to perform in Stormont this Holy Thursday night, at the invitation of Jeffrey Donaldson MP/MLA and other members of the Northern Assembly, who heard it perform in Omagh last August at the tenth anniversary memorial for victims of the Omagh bombing.
This represents a huge honour for the 25-member choir, the first with members from the South of Ireland to sing in Stormont. In the aftermath of the 1998 atrocity in Omagh, in which 31 people died, the choir, containing Catholics and Protestants, promotes the message of peace and reconciliation through its music.
It has just recorded its first CD entitled Songs of the Soul, produced in Waterford by David Hayes and Ollie Farrell.
The choir visited Sri Lanka last summer and sang in orphanages for which it raised funds in the aftermath of the tsunami. The Waterford public would have heard it over the past two years at the Sacred Heart Church, The Folly, and at the monthly “Prayer around the Cross” at the Mount Sion Christian Brothers in Barrack St.
The choir was formed two years ago to sing at the wedding in Omagh of Claire Gallagher, who lost her sight in the bombing, and Ryan Bowes. The couple have become regular visitors to Waterford and their friendship with Phil Brennan, the choir’s Musical Director along with Elaine Harvey, goes back to Claire’s first visit here in 1999 to receive the St Angela’s Peace and Justice Award.
The Stormont event has been booked out for two months and under the patronage of Robert Robinson from Belfast, other performances are being lined up in the North and in England to help promote the choir’s music and message.
The choir returns to Waterford this Good Friday to sing at “Prayer around the Cross” at Mount Sion from 7 to 8pm and at the Sacred Heart Church from 9 to 10pm.