Priest gives uplifting concert to parishioners

Priest gives uplifting concert to parishioners

20 May 2020

A VIRTUAL concert by a local priest to lift the spirits of parishioners during the coronavirus lockdown has attracted thousands of viewers. 

Canon Sean Rogan, retired priest-in-residence of Drumbo and Carryduff parish, live-streamed his concert of music and song on the parish webcam on Saturday, May 9. 

Canon Rogan, who celebrated his 81st birthday the following day, is a former parish priest of Downpatrick and former priest-in-residence at St Malachy’s Church, Kilcoo and Star of the Sea Church, Killyleagh.

He said he dedicated his performance to the essential workers in the NHS, hospices and care homes. 

Welcoming more than 2,500 viewers who tuned in to hear his 90-minute performance, he said: “Our carers are thinking not of themselves, but of others. We wish to applaud you.

“Seventy five years ago, on VE Day, people celebrated the end of hostilities when World War 2 was raging. So many people went out of their way to sacrifice themselves and do things for others during a terrible conflict. 

“At this time, there are others who are sacrificing themselves. I’m thinking of all those in the NHS.”

The concert included Italian folk songs, Argentinean tangos – which he said, were a favourite of Pope Francis — and Percy French ballads, including The Mountains of Mourne, which he punctuated with some light-hearted stories. He also threw in a few quicksteps and samba’ to encourage viewers at home to get up and dance.

Canon Rogan, who grew up in Killough, is no stranger to the stage. With his showband, the Sun Kap Rhythm Band, he played in local halls during the 1950s before he entered the priesthood.

Among his favourite venues were Downpatrick Town Hall and the former St Patrick’s Hall in the town — better known as the Canon’s Hall.

Canon Rogan played the piano and his fellow band members were Pat Blaney, John McClean and Billy Mannion, all on accordion, Harry McCartan on drums and Joe Stratton on guitar.

Canon Rogan says he will always be grateful to two Church of Ireland organists from St Anne’s Church in Killough, Mrs Munce and Miss Swail, who taught him to sing and play the piano when he was a boy.

“They were two very Christian ladies, who gave so much of their time,” he said.  “I began piano lessons with a girl called Pauline McVenney and we learned so much during the five years we received tuition there.”

To view Canon Sean Rogan’s concert log on to the Drumbo and Carryduff Parish Facebook page.