The Countess’ Salon performed by The Opera Workshop at No 1 Perry Square Hotel

The Countess’ Salon, performed by new Limerick based group, The Opera Workshop, will take place in No 1 Pery Square Hotel on October 15, November 12 and December 10.

Founded, produced and directed by well known Limerick Lady, Shirley Keane, this premier performance has a cast of some of some of Limerick’s best known singers, including Sarah-Ellen Murphy, Jean Wallace, Eve Stafford, Kevin Neville and Catriona Walsh, with piano accompaniment by Irina Dernova.

The performances will comprise well-known songs and musical highlights, including those by Puccini, Bizet and Mozart and the December concert will also feature Christmas songs and carols.

‘It is a wonderful time to be trying something new in Limerick.  I have come home to an energised city and county that is enthusiastic and excited by arts and culture.  And though opera is not new, nor is Limerick’s love of opera new, I hope that the work of The Opera Workshop will be refreshing, challenging and entertaining for Limerick audiences and artists,’ said Shirley.

Having spent more than 20 years in the United Kingdom, Shirley, a professional actor, singer and teacher, believes that the possibilities for creating original cross-art and vocal work are endless.  Her aim is to cultivate a company that develops high standard professional productions, while simultaneously encouraging younger, local musical talent.

“It was the room that actually inspired us with the idea of a grand opera salon, hosted by a charming, glamorous Countess.  The audience should feel like her guests enjoying her party and are privy to the gossip and scandal that is brewing around them.

“We devised the story, characters emerged, we played with the relationships between the characters, and a script was devised and written which acts as a link for the songs but also creates a tangible story.  There will be a mix of styles of songs and opera including light opera, folk, German lied, music theatre and opera performed in English, German, French and Italian,” added Shirley.

The cast have been rehearsing since early September and are hopeful for full houses as tickets are selling fast for this intimate venue which holds 50 people per performance.

Shirley’s hope for The Opera Workshop is to provide the focus for a collective of like-minded artists interested in testing their skills, developing new productions, seeking opportunities to experiment, develop and share innovative ideas in opera performance as there are many musicians from across the Mid-west  who work on a professional and semi-professional basis in Ireland and internationally.

Shirley intends that The Opera Workshop will have a strong community and outreach ethos and welcomes opportunities to work with schools and community groups interested in developing projects that serve their needs while exploring a vibrant, joyous and beautiful art form

Having begun her vocal training with Olive Cowpar in Limerick and worked for a couple of seasons at Bunratty Castle as an entertainer, Shirley then went on to study a Bachelor of Arts degree in acting at the Rose Bruford College of Drama, London, and voice and opera at both The Guildhall School of Music and the Royal Academy of Music London.

Her successful career saw her including Opera Theatre Company, Basingstoke Haymarket, Opera Holland Park, with concert and oratorio performances across Europe and in venues such as The Royal Festival Hall, Royal Albert Hall, Old Trafford football stadium and Dublin’s National Concert Hall.

And teaching through community and outreach work in particular, through her own community opera company in East London, East End Opera and with companies such as Live Music Now, Glyndbourne Opera, The Half Moon Young People’s Theatre and more lately as a director and acting teacher at The Guildhall School of Music, London where she is a member of the vocal faculty.

The No 1 Pery Square Hotel are offering a pre-opera 3 course special menu at €35 pp.  Dinner reservations can be booked directly with the hotel – 061  402402/

The show tickets are booked via  We take bookings, reserve tickets which must be paid for on the night.  Box office available from 7.30

“The dinner is a separate offer made by the hotel and not part of the performance.  If people want to avail of this special rate for a meal at No 1 Pery Square they book directly with the hotel and would probably need to consider an earlier booking as the show must start at 8pm.  But guests can bring drinks into the performance.  Tickets for the show can be booked independently without having to book for the dinner,” added Shirley.

Tickets for performances of The Countess’ Salon must be pre-booked on

Tickets cost €20 and €15 concession.


Edel O’Brien, Reflecting Strings and Irina Dernova to perform at St Michael’s Perry Square

An Evening of Popular Classics, a concert featuring mezzo soprano Edel O’Brien, trio Reflecting Strings and organist Irina Dernova in aid of St. Michael’s Organ Fund and Down Syndrome Limerick will take place at St Michael’s Church, Pery Square on March 31.

Edel O’Brien

“I have only had the pleasure of singing in St. Michael’s Church once before. It is a beautiful venue to perform in. The acoustics are excellent,” said Edel.

Originally from Kilrush, County Clare, Edel began voice training with Jean Holmes at the Limerick School of Music. Then having obtained a Bachelor and Master of Arts in music from National University of Ireland (NUI) Maynooth, she studied at Trinity College of Music, London, followed by two years at the Centre de Formation Lyrique, Opera Bastille, Paris. Edel has performed as a soloist in Opera de Paris, Opera de Rouen, Opera Ireland, the Anna Livia International Opera Festival, and as a guest soloist with many choral societies throughout the UK, Ireland and France.

“It was really Moya who made the final choice of programme. She asked me to find pieces I like to sing and then chooses those that work best when arranged for cello, violin and harp. The programme will include works by Mozart, Gluck, Bizet and Rossini,” added Edel.

Moya O’Grady on cello, her son David O’Doherty on violin and daughter Geraldine O’Doherty are Reflecting Strings, a Dublin based chamber group that has recorded five critically acclaimed CDs and toured extensively internationally, one special highlight was a celebrated performance in the Smithsonian Institute, Washington D.C.

Moya was co-principal cellist of the RTE Symphony Orchestra. David studied at the Dublin Institute of Technology (DIT) Conservatory of Music, made his American debut live on Boston Radio and in July 2000, and received his “Premier Prix de Virtuosité” from the Conservatoire of Lausanne, Switzerland.

Geraldine has been Principal Harpist with the RTE Concert Orchestra since 2006, and is a teacher at the Royal Irish Academy of Music, Dublin. She studied at the Guildhall School of Music, London and at the Hochschule fur Musik in Zurich. She has toured internationally and performed with many groups and has an extensive list of recordings for various artists such as Paul Byrom, The Priests, Celtic Woman, Celtic Thunder and she also features on the soundtrack to the Oscar nominated film, Albert Nobbs.

Irina Dernova

Irina Dernova who is musical director at St. Michael’s Church, and is also a piano teacher at Mid-West Vocal Academy, Lisnagry, and is well known as an accompanist and teacher throughout limerick and Clare, will begin the evening by playing Trumpet Voluntary by Jeremiah Clarke on the organ.

“I wish to say a big thank you to Edel and Reflective Strings for offering this concert.

The organ in St Michael’s is one of the oldest in Limerick, about 150 years old. It needs funding, a big job was recently done on it, and more work is needed on it,” said Irina.

Tickets are €15 and are available to buy on the door before the concert at 8pm

CD’s by Edel O’Brien and Reflecting strings will also be available to purchase on the evening.

Limerick Panto Society’s Snow White


Limerick Panto Society’s (LPS) much anticipated production of Snow White starring Emma O’Driscoll, will take place at the Lime Tree Theatre from December 28 to January 8.

Making Christmases magical since it’s foundation in 1985, this will be the society’s 32nd show, produced by Tony Cusack, it promises to fulfil the LPS reputation as a fun family entertainment show, that supports and discovers local talent and will have a charity night in aid of Enable Ireland.

Emma, who has performed with the LPS many times before and is well known to Limerick audiences, has worked as a presenter for RTE children’s television for many years, and last year launched her Limerick based Stage School, Gem Stars.

Starring the renowned Panto Dame, Tim Cusack, and with an original script by John Finn who is also performing in the show, this production will have a unique spin on the fairytale, as Snow White meets colourful characters such as Sherlock Holmes, Doctor Watson, Harry Potter and Hermione.

Also starring Laura Hunt, Grainne McCarthy, Thomas Coneran, Damian Shaw, Keith McGuane, Stuart Mackey, Issey Fenton, Yasmin McGarvey, Shauna O’Halloran, Paul Fitzgerald, from Limerick’s 95FM Radio Breakfast Show, and Paul O’Farrell who will both make their debut performances with LPS.

With a live orchestra under the Musical Direction of Michael Hinchy, a chorus of over 50 and performances by students of Expressive Arts and Spotlight Stage Schools, it will be an evening or matinee of all round musical and comedy entertainment, to lighten the spirit and spread Christmas cheer and merriment.

Tickets are available from

For more information see

Ancór Christmas Concert


The award winning Limerick chamber choir, Ancór’s eighth Christmas concert will take place at 8pm, in St Mary’s Cathedral on December 15.

“Our partnership with St Mary’s Cathedral has proved very successful indeed. The concerts are always sold out, and it seems to have become an essential part of Christmas, to come to the Ancór Christmas concert for many in Limerick.

“I’m sure the fact that we serve up seasonal treats such as mulled wine and mince pies at the interval has nothing to do with this,” smiled Ancór choir director Cecilia Madden.


Cecilia Madded Ancór musical Director

As well as the 35 member mixed voice choir, the concert will feature well known Limerick solo singers, Emma English, Sarah-Ellen Murphy, Kevin Neville, Vlad Smishkewych, and a guest orchestra.

The programme consists of, “The Magnificat, a fabulous work by CPE Bach who was one of Johann Sebastian’s more famous and talented children.

“In addition we will perform a beautiful Christmas cantata by an Italian composer called Ottorino Respighi which was written in 1930. There will be a few familiar carols too,” said Cecilia.

This year Ancór celebrated their tenth anniversary with the launch of their CD Sing Joyfully, and added more trophies to their collection when they won the Early Music competition and Best Limerick Choir in the Limerick Choral Festival.

In preparation for a trip to Slovenia in the summer of 2017, the choir will be staging a number of concerts throughout the country over the coming months.

Cecilia, who is enjoying her role as Deputy Principal at The Limerick School of Music, said the sound of the choir has evolved over time.

“We have always called ourselves a chamber choir but we are nearly too big to say that now. We aim to have that kind of pure sound that may be heard in smaller, tightly blended ensembles, but with the slightly larger numbers we have now, we have the scope to vary the dynamic levels dramatically for expressive purposes,” Cecilia added.

Tickets are €18 (€15 for Seniors and Students) available from St Mary’s Cathedral or online at Ticketsolve – LIT Millennium Theatre

The Ancór CD Sing Joyfully is available from the Hunt Museum


Jingle Bells for Joseph


Jingle Bells for Joseph, is a fundraising concert for Joseph Monaghan a little boy from Castletroy, who recently underwent pioneering surgery in Leeds for his Spastic Diplegia Cerebral Palsy, in order to relieve the severe pain he endures 24/7 and to help him walk.

The concert which will take place at Milford Church, Castletroy, December 2, is to raise funds for Joseph’s rehabilitation, which will cost approximately €30,000.

“Joseph is the son of one of my neighbours, and I have known of his condition for some time, and the extraordinary journey he and his parents, Geraldine and Joe are on. We had spoken in the choir about doing a big local fundraiser and Councillor Marian Hurley and her friend Mary Glynn came to me with the idea that Joseph was the ideal candidate.

“Joseph requires intense, long term rehabilitation to ensure this surgery is a long term success for him, so we are trying to do what we can to help the Monaghan family with that cost,” said organiser of the event and proprietor of the Mid-West Vocal Academy and Music School, Owen Gilhooly.

Owen, an internationally renowned vocalist who is well known to Limerick audiences, is currently pursing doctoral studies at the Royal Irish Academy of Music, where he teaches, established the Mid-West Vocal Academy and Music School in 2011.

The concert of popular and seasonal favourites will feature Owen’s choir Aoide, a mixed voice community choir with 70 members, as well as singers Martha O’ Brien, Conor Gibbons, David Howes, Kelli-Ann Masterson, pianists Conor McCarthy, Irina Dernova and harpist Janet Harbison.

“The concert will feature Limerick born singers returning home to give of their time and talent for this special cause. There will also be some special guests popping in to say hello, and special prizes on the night thanks to some wonderful donations from very generous locals.

“Everything seems to be going well. The choir are frantically preparing some new and exciting repertoire and tickets are moving fast. We are delighted too that University Concert Hall are handling the ticketing for us and our posters are being shared all over social media and in the press,” added Owen.

Tickets are €20, (Family Ticket €40 2 Adults 2 Children) and are available from University Concert Hall Box Office on 061- 331549

El Divas perform at the Limerick Millennium Theatre


El Divas performance at the Limerick Millennium Theatre (LIT) on Saturday November 19, promises to be an evening packed with stunning singing that will thrill and enchant audiences as four extremely talented and accomplished local ladies take you on a musical journey.

These four friends consisting of Limerick ladies Jessica Bray, Amanda Minihan and Ennis ladies Helen Catherine Ball and Janet Woods, after years of trying have finally managed to align their busy schedules to create this exciting event.

The theme of the show is about their special bond, as they sing songs that convey their hopes, woes and dreams, and how their friendships have carried them through various trials and tribulations in their lives and music careers.

Locally and London trained Jessica, a drama teacher, singer, actress and director, has just finished playing ‘Aldonza’  in Man of La Mancha for Muse Productions, and is currently directing Shannon Musical Society’s 9 to 5.

Since completing her training in London Amanda has worked in the West End and regional shows and was delighted to work at home with Wildebeest Theatre Company’s Production of, On The Wire, in 2014.

Helen Catherine Ball, has performed in the West End, UK, Ireland and since returning home  has continued to perform and produce shows, as well as running her stage school.

Janet combines her singing career with teaching history and business at Villiers Secondary School, as well as teaching singing and is also the Public Relations Officer (PRO) for Féile Luimní.

Janet and Helen are also connected by another special bond, through Helen’s parents and Janet’s grandparents, who knew each other through the Hearing-Impaired community.

El Divas will be accompanied by Ennis based Michael Hennessy who is renowned as a teacher, performer and musical director in the Clare region.

Saturday November 19th at Limericks Millennium Theatre (LIT) at 8pm. Tickets €16 & €14, available from the LMT Box-office 061 293190 and


Musician Martin Baker performs at the Limerick Pipe Organ Festival


Martin Baker

The Limerick Pipe Organ Festival (LPOF) will conclude with a performance by the highly esteemed organist Martin Baker, at 7:30pm in St John’s Cathedral, September 30.

Master of Music at Westminster Cathedral, Martin directs the world renowned Cathedral choir in its daily choral programme and busy schedule of concerts, tours and recordings.

Winner of the Improvisation Competition at the St Albans International Organ Festival in 1997, Martin is also renowned for his skill in organ improvisation, and frequently performs international solo organ concerts.

“One of the things about the festival is the focus on improvisation. The musicians were selected because of their improvisational skills, being a unique aspect of our festival. The highlight of our final concert will surely be the 12 minute improvisation on a theme to be given to Martin Baker on the night,” said LPOF Artistic Director Bernadette Kiely.

As well as the highly anticipated improvisation section, Martin’s programme will include music by Dietrich Buxtehude, César Franck, Max Reger, and Johann Sebastian Bach.

The last week of the LPOF will begin with a free lunchtime recital in St Mary’s Cathedral by organist Peter Barley at 1:15pm on September 28. Followed by an organ improvisation masterclass by Martin Baker from 2pm to 5:15pm in St John’s Cathedral September 29.

To finish the festival on October 1, there will be an organ building and maintenance workshop in Mary Immaculate College, at 2pm by expert organ builder Trevor Crowe.

“Trevor Crowe is currently the most premium organ builder in Ireland. The festival is not just about organ music, or the art of improvisation, but it is also because we recognise the heritage of the unique hand-built instruments that we have in Limerick,” said Bernadette.

All tickets are available on the door at each event.

Tickets for Martin Baker masterclass September 29 are €5

Tickets for Martin Baker concert September 30 €10

Tickets for Trevor Crowe workshop €5

For more information see