GAA clubs unite to celebrate Co Down with moving song

GAA clubs unite to celebrate Co Down with moving song

20 May 2020

A COMING together in song of all 47 GAA clubs in Down has produced an overwhelming emotional response since it was launched last week.

Thousands of people have viewed a digital performance of the Tommy Sands song The County Down from singers and musicians from every single club in the county.

The cover version shows scenes from throughout the county and has evoked nostalgia at home and abroad during the Covid-19 health crisis.

One Down man living in Australia said he was in tears listening to the song while standing underneath Sydney Harbour Bridge while a local woman commented “Shivers all down my spine! Stunning.”

Edited and remastered by Saul GAC’s Gareth McGreevy and co-ordinated by Down GAA’s PRO Paula Magee, the video shows singers and musicians perform the song penned by local folk singer and songwriter Tommy Sands for his 1992 album Beyond the Shadows.

Down GAA chairman John Devaney praised those involved in the undertaking, saying that “the lockdown has unleashed some imaginative ways for members to engage in an interactive and entertaining way. Pulling this together, with so many people involved, has been an impressive feat and the performance is a very professional production. So, well done to everyone involved and a particular note of thanks to Gareth McGreevy and Paula Magee”.

Tommy Sands said he was delighted and moved by the production. “I always feel honoured to hear my songs being recorded by people around the world; but to hear this song from my own place County Down being performed so beautifully by young people from every GAA club in this county moves me very deeply indeed.

“It was recorded in these eerie isolation times when young people, unable to be together even for a short time, found a way to celebrate their own native place through music and somehow end up together.”

Paula explained that the video came about as a result of the hiatus in all outdoor GAA activity, where members and units have turned to social media to find new and unique ways of maintaining interest and connections.

She said she was proud of the way that the video had created a positive ripple throughout the community.

All of the individual performances were filmed at home and were sent through to Gareth for him to bull together.

Gareth, who recently edited a video performance to celebrate the 50th anniversary of Dana winning the Eurovision contest, acknowledged there was a lot of work involved in pulling together the video.

“One computer died in the middle of it and I needed to be a bit specific in asking the performers to send in their videos to me. Every single club in the county is represented which makes it unique and a real community and county effort,” he said.

Saul GAC’s Sarah McVeigh, double All-Ireland Scór ballad winner, is the third soloist to sing and Saul’s entire senior ballad group, including Gareth, sings the second verse. Local musicians performing include fiddle players Bronagh McClean (nee Donnelly) from Downpatrick, her husband Niall and son Seamus on the pipes, Sharon McAuley Breen, from Castlewellan, Cathleen Garland from Dundrum. Barry McVeigh from Darragh Cross, and Enya Boyle from St John’s.

Conor Fitzsimons from Saul shot drone footage of his club grounds, Saul Mountain and St Patrick’s statue, while Tony Ferris from Drumaness shot the footage of Newcastle, the Mournes and Spelga Dam.

Other members of the following local GAA clubs took part in the recording:

Eoin Caughey (Ardglass), Erin Cunningham (Ardglass), Orlagh Murphy (Atticall), Fionnuala Pickering (Aughlisnafin), Jana McCarthy (Ballycran),  Cathlin Fay (Ballygalget), Phoebe Richards (Ballykinlar), Carol McAllister (Bredagh), Kerry McLaughlin (Bright), Clare Cunningham, Micheal Valentine, Orla Maginess and Louise Brady (Bryansford), Ana Marie Magorrian and Caoimhe Magorrian (Carryduff), Annie Breen, Sharon Breen and Orla McCrickard (Castlewellan), Katie Quinn (Downpatrick), Megan Smith and Patrick Doyle (Dromara), Ella Fegan (Drumaness), Olivia Tolcher (Dundrum), Fintan Cultra (Kilclief), Siobhan McEvoy (Kilcoo), Claire Scally, Anna-Rose McCabe and Claire Doyle (Liatroim), Kirsten Jennings, Lauren Deagan (Loughinisland), Angela McGreevy, Orlagh Carson, Grainne Boss, Taylor Murin, Rosie Byrne, Niamh McCullough, Erin Sands, Catherine Boyle, Laura Edgar, Lindsay Hanna (Saul), Kathy McGrattan (Portaferry), and Éilis Rowan (Teconnaught).

Other Down GAA clubs were represented by: Eimear Devlin (Aghaderg/Ballyvarley), Aoibheann Sloan and Diarmuid Cahill (An Ríocht), Sarah Fegan, Ava Cahill and Aoibhin Pyers, Ciara Pyers, and Michelle Pyers (Annaclone), Tara McAnearney (Ballela), Aisling McKeown, Anna Kearney and Aileen Kearney (Ballyholland Harps), Sinead O Hare (Ballymartin), Bronach Fegan  and Caoimhe Loughran (Burren), Emma Loughlin, Lorna Carroll and Sineas Parfitt (Clann na Banna), Caroline McGreevy, Aoife Trainor and Paul Kelly (Clonduff), Kayla O’Hare (Drumgath), Aoife Grant, Tara Grant Niamh McDowell, Cara Sloan, Clodagh Morgan, Ciara Rooney and Donna Feeney (Glasdrumman), Emma Matters, Kerrie Kennedy and Caoimhe Murtagh (Glenn), Cillian McLaverty (Longstone), Peter Magee, Eimear Magee, Paula Magee, Cathal Magee, Ciara Rooney, Jordan Lively, Maeve McCartan, Niamh Martin, Ava McPolin and Patrick Lively, (Mayobridge), Mairead Campbell (Newry Mitchels), Ciara Gorman, Orlaith Gorman, Meabh Hegarty and Fiona Brennan (Newry Shamrocks), Masie Tinnley (Rostrevor, Kate Rice (Rostrevor), Lauren Mooney (Saval), Rebecca Hamill (St Michael’s), Colleen McCleery (St Paul’s), Aoife McGrath, Grace Summerville, Emma-Louise Murphy, Joanna Doran, Grainne Mallon, Ciara Carr, Lauran Caldwell, Grace Mallon, Claudia Mallon, Sarah Rooney, Holly Tinnely, Oisin McCann and Sophie Gaw (Warrenpoint), Annamarie Boyle (St John Bosco) and Phil Walker (Tullylish).

The performance can be accessed on Down GAA Website and on Down GAA Social Media Channels #OfficialDownGAA.