Having served the community for almost 150 years, the John White built ‘two manual organ’ in the Church of the Assumption, Thomastown is well-due a sympathetic overhaul. In an effort to raise funds for this project a concert has been organised for the church on Sunday, November 30 at 7.30pm. This concert will feature three choirs – In Caelo – from Inistioge, Sospiroso – a Kilkenny-based Male Voice Choir, and the Thomastown Church Choir which has come together especially for this purpose. Eagerly anticipated is a special guest appearance by guitarist Mark Anthony McGrath. Mark originally studied classical guitar under John Feeley at the DIT Conservatory of Music. He is highly acclaimed for his distinctive arrangements of traditional and contemporary music from Ireland and Scotland. No need to book tickets, admission is free but any donation towards the organ restoration fund would be very welcome.
John White, along with William Telford, were the renowned nineteenth-century organ builders in Ireland. Most surviving examples of the work of John White and his two sons are to be found in Dublin churches – among others – Our Lady of Refugee, Rathmines; the Jesuit Church, Gardiner Street; St Andrew’s, Westland Row; Church of the Assumption, Booterstown. But the organ in the Redemptorist Church, Limerick, and of course Thomastown Parish Church show that the churches of the capital were not the only ones to benefit from his expertise. If anything, the fact that the Thomastown organ has never had a major overhaul apart from the installation of an electric blower in 1967, means that it probably retains more of the original features of a White-built organ than many of those in the more prestigious metropolitan churches. Of course there is not much point in having an organ without an organist! We were fortunate in Thomastown that this task was ably carried out by a relatively small number of people over a long period of time. Many of the older generation fondly remember Mrs Mary O’Carroll (nee Leddy) who was church organist for a period of more than fifty years. As a sixteen year-old she took over from her two aunts, Bride and Nell Ryan in 1915.