“The mission of the Circle Of Friends Choir is simply to have fun and sing, which is exactly what we did throughout the year,” explained Mary. The members range in age from 6 years to 80+ and meet weekly for about two hours. Initially many of the members mentioned that they had no singing experience at all but they worked towards their goal of a concert performance that took place the Templeneiry Culture Centre Bansha.
Artists from the world of Professional Theatre, Music and Film joined the Circle of Friends choir including: Barry Barnes, Charlie O’Neill, Alan Archibald, Eddie O’Neill, Sue Hassett and Soprano Helena Sloane. Tipperary Singer Songwriter, James Darcy, who had invited the Circle of Friends Choir to perform with him in The Bru Bru Theatre Cashel some months earlier, also performed on the night.
Mary Ronayne is a native of Cork but lives near Bansha. For the last ten years she has worked mostly in Vienna and Germany composing music for Dance Companies and Theatre Companies. She has worked in conflict resolution through the Arts during the Irish Peace Process with Co-operation Ireland. This comprised of a 75 member Cross-Border Cross Tradition Choir who performed her music composition, “The Flight of The Earls” throughout Ireland. Mary returned to Ireland from Vienna to home-care her Mother Nell Ronayne and sadly passed away in March of 2016. “This was a profoundly sad time for me as we were very close. Shortly after her death while struggling with grief, I decided to visit the Bansha Agricultural Show, which was so wonderful. I saw the Circle of Friends Stand and walked over remembering my Mother’s advice, ‘When you find it hard to do anything yourself, do something for someone else’ and I met Pauline, one of the Circle of Friends team and offered some voluntary time in Music & Drama Therapy to the Centre. And so the Circle of Friends Choir began. I have worked with many professional and amateur groups throughout my career and throughout the world, but I have never encountered nor anticipated the warmth of the Tipperary people. I now consider myself blessed and fortunate to call friends, both in the Choir and in my neighbourhood. I look forward to having many more very happy evenings in their company and I encourage new members to join us in September at The Enterprise Centre for our next Musical & Theatrical adventure,” added Mary.