Monday, March 4, 2024


THE current academic year has seen St
Louis Grammar School, Kilkeel, celebrate a
century of providing excellence in
education in Mourne and the wider region.
Many St Louis students have gone on to establish
wonderful careers in many diverse fields.
Recently some past students returned to their
former school, many travelling from England and
Scotland, to share their musical talent once again on
the St Louis stage at the Centenary Spring Concert.
Organised by the head of music at St Louis, Mrs
Dearbhla McDonagh (musical director) and Mr Tim
Brown (co-producer), a distinguished cast of St Louis
alumni was assembled to delight the packed assembly
hall, who were in for an absolute musical treat.
Present day students opened the proceedings as the
Guitar Group, directed by Linda Boucher,
accompanied the Junior Choir to sing the Beatles
classic ‘Hey Jude’.
This was followed by Linda Boucher and the
Campbell family singing ‘Dreamers and Believers’.
Celebrated local folk singer, Jane Cassidy, then
took to the stage with her rendition of ‘Up in the
mountains above Kilkeel’.
Returning to the stage for the first time since 1994,
local tenor Shane Morgan thrilled the audience as he
re-enacted ‘Gethsemane’ (I only want to say) from
Jesus Christ Superstar.
This was followed by the current Year 13 students
with a mash up of ‘You are the reason’, and the Elvis
classic, ‘I can’t help falling in love with you’.
Then it was time for Colm Quinn’s brilliant
rendition of the famous Frank Sinatra classic ‘New
York, New York’.
The current students took to the stage once again as
the St Louis Show Choir (directed by Connlagh
McDonagh) performed ‘You will be found’, Tommy
Cunningham, ‘Bui Doi’ from Miss Saigon, followed by
the returning Cillian McLaverty with ‘This little
song’, his very own composition.
Three magnificent piano recitals captivated the
audience, as moving images were displayed on the
large screen behind each performer.
Edie Carey-Barter (The Warhammer Titan/Ashes
on Fire), Claire Ndhlovu (One Summer’s Day) and
Tara Frazer (Cornfield Chase) delivered their musical
pieces in time, elevating each movie excerpt.
On a more classical theme, past students
Connlaodh McDonagh (Steal me, sweet thief) and the
superb Aaron O’Hare, a professional opera singer, (O
Sole Mio) had the hall tingling with the quality of
their voices.
The final act of the first half was an excellent
adaptation from the musical ‘Hamilton’ (directed by Oisin and Sorcha McDonagh), which included a number of past students and current students.
After the interval, traditional music took centre
stage. Whilst former head girl Aoife McGrath took
to the stage with a solo dance, past students
Maura Flynn (Mary and the soldier), and Lorraine
Matthews (Black is the colour) added their own
contribution through song and music with the
guitar and harp.
No celebratory St Louis concert could be
complete without an input from the lively, talented
persona that is Oisin McCann.
He offered a fine rendition of Runrig’s ‘Rocket to
the moon’, after which he led a number of foottapping reels and jigs, which had the audience in
fine fettle.
It was now time to crank things up a bit as the
‘rockers’ took to the stage. A combination of
present and past students – Mac Dermarco –
offered a roof-lifting version of ‘Chamber of
reflections’, followed by Sorcha McDonagh’s
rousing adaptation of My Chemical Romance’s
‘Welcome to the black parade’.
It’s never a concert without an ABBA input and
Éadaoin Hanrahan, with the assistance of Conor
O’Boyle, John Harrison, Oisin McDonagh and
Ciara Rooney, blasted out ‘Gimme, Gimme,
Gimme’, much to the delight of the audience.
Local song writer and recording artist, Stephen
Rafferty, then took centre stage. He performed
‘Boys back when’ before joining his old St Louis
friends Declan Clarke, Jonny Rickard and Oisin
McDonagh, with their version of ‘It’s time’ by
Imagine Dragons.
A spectacular grand finale provided an
opportunity to showcase the talent of past and
current students as they performed ‘One day more’
from Les Miserables and ‘Circle of life’ from The
Lion King.
Both performances were a rousing and fitting
conclusion to what was a real feast of St Louis’
musical talent, well befitting the magnificent
occasion it was celebrating.
Addressing the audience, St Louis principal,
Kevin Martin, paid tribute, not only to those who
had performed, but also to the efforts of the staff
and students behind the scenes.
He gave a special mention to St Louis’ head of
music, Mrs Dearbhla McDonagh, who “always
brings out the best in our students”, for creating a
musical extravaganza, “well befitting our
centenary celebrations”.

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