Seathrun swaps stetoscope for musical instruments in Duiske Abbey

ANYONE turning up for the Duiske concerts in Graignamanagh’s Duiske Abbey this weekend is in for a double celebration. The season itself celebrates its 21st birthday – 135 concerts featuring everyone from the Chieftains and the Vienna Boys Choir to Ronan Tynan and the Moscow Conservatoire, for whom the 13th-century abbey has provided a unique and memorable venue. This year’s festival will also celebrate the life of the season’s co-founder, the much loved Dr Marian Tierney, who died of cancer at the age of 57 this May.

ANYONE turning up for the Duiske concerts in Graignamanagh’s Duiske Abbey this weekend is in for a double celebration. The season itself celebrates its 21st birthday – 135 concerts featuring everyone from the Chieftains and the Vienna Boys Choir to Ronan Tynan and the Moscow Conservatoire, for whom the 13th-century abbey has provided a unique and memorable venue. This year’s festival will also celebrate the life of the season’s co-founder, the much loved Dr Marian Tierney, who died of cancer at the age of 57 this May.

“Without Marian’s impossible optimism, determination and good humour we’d never have thrived this long,” said fellow Duiske committee veteran Sean Hardie. And when Hardie and the rest of the committee sat down to decide which arts Marian would have wanted, two names came straight to mind – Cara O’Sullivan, who had been a friend since she first sang in Duiske in 1992, and another friend, Dr Seathrun O’Casaide based at the Ayrfield Medical Centre in Kilkernny city and a member of the iconic group Na Casaidigh.

Na Casaidigh will launch the weekend on Friday evening. They’re delighted to be given the chance to pay tribute to Marian Tierney, and also to be back in Duiske. Duiske is delighted to have them. “You feel kind of proud when you see a band who have played for two American presidents and the pope up there on stage in Graignamanagh,” Mr Hardie said.

The O’Casaide brothers have been playing and singing together since their childhood in Gweedore, County Donegal. Since then their harmonies, energy and command of a dazzling number of instruments has placed them in the front rank of traditional musicians on both side of the Atlantic.

They have released five acclaimed albums, including Óró Na Casaidigh, which went platinum and topped the Irish charts for three weeks. Their appearances in front of US Presidents Ronald Reagan in Dublin Castle and Bill Clinton on College Green brought them to the attention of television audiences worldwide. Friday’s concert at Duiske will be recorded by TG4 for inclusion in a documentary about the group to be broadcast on December 21.

“This is such a wonderful festival,” says Seathrun.” The atmosphere in Duiske – and the crowd – has always been terrific. We really look forward to playing there, and to have the chance to celebrate Marian’s life. She loved music.”

The 2011 Duiske Concerts run all this weekend in Duiske Abbey. Na Casadaigh will be appearing on Friday at 8pm; tickets €20 (€15 concessions). Marian Tierney’s always went out of her way to encourage new Irish talent, and on Saturday afternoon the winner of BBC2’s Classical Star competition, pianist Sophie Cashell plays music by Liszt and Ravel (2pm, €15/10). The season ends on Sunday with a gala concert featuring soprano Cara O’Sullivan and tenor Anthony Kearns (8pm, €25/20). Further detailsare on www.duiskeconcerts.ie, info@duiskeconcerts.ie and the Abbey Centre, 0599725893 Monday to Friday from 9.30am to 1pm.