Hup Na Houra an outstanding success – additional night added, 15th August

Minister Patrick O'Donovan with cast members Ciara Flanagan, Micheál Fogerty, and Rachael Lynch.

Minister Patrick O’Donovan with cast members Ciara Flanagan, Micheál Fogerty, and Rachael Lynch.

Hup na Houra, the traditional show set in the old church of Ireland in Kilfinane has been deemed an outstanding success by the newly-established Comhaltas branch Ballyhoura Comhaltas.
You could not have escaped the news that a traditional show called Hup na Houra has been running in Kilfinane for the last 4 weeks.  It has sold out every night, has far exceeded the anticipated numbers, brought 100s of international guests to Kilfinane and even had a Minister of State in attendance! The Ballyhoura Comhaltas committee have deemed the show, an outstanding success and are delighted with the amount of visitors who have passed through the doors of the old Church of Ireland.
The show began to sell out within one week of the first night, and is now fully booked until 23rd August.  In light of this, Ballyhoura Comhaltas have decided to run an additional show on Monday 15th of August, to facilitate a waiting list and already bookings are flying in.  The Comhaltas Com-mittee decided that half of the proceeds of this show will be donated to the Church of Ireland Restoration fund with some of the performers offering their services on the night for no charge.   Ballyhoura Comhaltas wishes to acknowledge the hard work that the COI committee have completed to get the church to become such an amazing venue, and it is no doubt that it is an amazing asset for Kilfinane.
Ballyhoura Comhaltas were honoured to have Minister of State for Tourism and Sport, Patrick O’Donovan in attendance on the 3rd week of Hup na Houra. The Minister said that a night like Hup na Houra was what it really was to be Irish and said that Ballyhoura Comhaltas were passing on a torch to the next generation.  He stated in a closing speech “this fabulous church has gotten a new lease of life and is a fantastic centre for performing arts. This place has a great future in the heart of a great community”. The show was also attended by Hillary Creedon of Failte Ireland, and Amanda Slattery of Ballyhoura Development, both of whom were amazed by the calibre of the show, the beautiful setting and the inclusion on the night of local artisan produce including Ballyhoura Apple Juice and Hosford’s cakes and scones.   Hup na Houra has attracted large groups of international guests, who have been staying at Sonas Ballyhoura Luxury Hostel, the Kilfinane Outdoor Education Centre and Woodview B & B in the town.  The show has of course been hugely supported by the people of Kilfinane and surrounding areas, and last week had a huge crowd from Ballyduff, Co. Waterford, where Ciara Flanagan, Chairperson of the Branch and the show co-ordinator hails from. Groups have travelled by bus from Tipperary, Waterford and Cork to enjoy the night.
Hup na Houra features some of Ireland’s finest performers including Liam Flanagan, Deirdre Scanlan, Derek Hickey and Caoimhín O’Fearghail, but in keeping with the Comhaltas Seisiún aims, it also showcases some local set dancers, dancers from 3 local dance schools, the local drama group and many junior musicians of the Comhaltas Branch. Ciara, Chairperson of the branch said, “Hup na Houra has been a great opportunity for some of our younger members to experience being part of a staged production.  Many of the children who participate in the show only took up learning music, or dance this year, and to now be in a show like this in front of a packed house, can only boost their confidence and further encourage them to embrace their traditional culture”.  Following the 1hr 30 mins show, the audience and cast have moved every night to a different pub in Kilfinane, with this element of the Seisiún attracting further visitors who are out to experience music, dance and song and the craic of the town!  Local publican Pat McGrath of the Dugout said, “It is great to have a very active Comhaltas Branch in Kilfinane and having seen Hup na Houra last week, I was speechless at the talent and the overall experience that is on offer in our town.  We have something going on here that we can all be proud of and be a part of which is helping local businesses and putting Kilfinane on the map and we now have acts and a venue that we could only have dreamed of before.” The busy Comhaltas Branch are also hoping to bring the Limerick County Fleadh to Kilfinane next year, and have been working on their proposal to do same.
Any profits from Hup na Houra will be put towards adding to an instrument bank, which Ballyhoura Comhaltas started last year.  Musical instruments such as fiddles, flutes and banjo have been available to hire for €15 per year to children and adults starting lessons with the branch.  The committee recognised the importance of this hire scheme, as it ensures that learning traditional music has become accessible and affordable and they believe this has contributed to the high uptake in lessons last year.  Ballyhoura Com-haltas had over 80 children learning music last year, a huge number for a start-up branch.  The enrolment night for 2016/17  lessons is taking place on Monday 5th September in Scoil Fhionáin, between 6 – 8pm and anyone interested in taking up an instrument is welcome to attend.  This year classes will be offered in Tin Whistle, Banjo, Flute, Fiddle and an additional button accordion class if demand exists.  For further information on lessons or on Hup na Houra, please see facebook page CCE Ballyhoura.