From Abbeyfeale to Madison Square Garden

Sephira stars Ruth and Joyce O’Leary, formerly Abbeyfeale and now Duagh, who played for Katie Taylor’s world title fight recently.

Ireland was enraptured by the recent world title bout between boxers Katie Taylor and Amanda Serrano, but Katie wasn’t the only Irish interest at the big fight in Madison Square Garden in New York, because violinists and sisters Ruth and Joyce O’Leary (aka Sephira) were flown to the Big Apple to perform at the weigh-in before the fight.
So, how do two sisters from Monaghan, who lived for four years in Abbeyfeale before moving to Duagh in Co. Kerry, come to be playing at such a prestigious event? The story goes back a few weeks this year to when the sisters were attending a family wedding in the Woodlands House Hotel. During the occasion, an email was received from boxing promoter Eddie Hearn’s Matchroom organisation, asking if Sephira were available to provide music at Katie’s weigh-in and ring walk. They agreed, but were on a tight timeframe because they had previously committed to another booking in Co. Limerick, so they were flown out to New York to play for the weigh-in, after which they flew back to Ireland for their other gig.
Ruth and Joyce put a lot of thought and preparation into their performance, and at Katie’s weigh-in they started with ‘Danny Boy’ and then got everyone fired up with a rendition of ‘Oró, sé do Bheatha Abhaile’. They followed this with ‘Kashmir’ by Led Zepellin, and The Chieftains’ ‘Drowsy Maggie’. Then, as Katie and Amanda moved together for the traditional face-off, the girls launched into the ‘Game of Thrones’ theme which had the audience (and presumably Katie too) in full-on fight mode.
The crowd, and Katie, loved the music which perfectly complemented the occasion, and the noise was so great that Ruth and Joyce could clearly hear it, even though they were wearing noise-cancelling earpieces.
Speaking after the fight, which Katie won on a split decision, the girls said that it had been a wonderful experience to play behind Katie as she took the stage for the weight-in, and they even got a pose for a photo with the world champion. It was such and exciting and emotional night, and it is a testament to their professionalism that they were back in Ireland the next day to play at their next gig. As for Katie, she was delighted with the girls’ performance, and Matchroom might well be back in touch for them to play at future Katie fights.
Originally from Monaghan, Ruth and Joyce moved to Abbeyfeale in recent years, and now live in Duagh, where Ruth is married to Karol O’Connor, a director of MHS Healthcare, a company which is based in Abbeyfeale and supplies healthcare products. Joyce lives next door to Ruth and Karol.
Ruth and Joyce operate Superstore Studio in Duagh and are very successful, not just in Ireland but also internationally. They have played with many famous singers over the years, including Kanye West, Michael Buble, Enya and Andrea Bocelli, and have also performed for a US President and Vice-President, including others. They have had many memorable nights, but describe playing for the Katie Taylor fight as their biggest thrill yet.
For more on Sephira, see their web page or their Facebook page.