The Clew Bay Pipe Band were central to the Rescue 116 Memorial Concert, held in Cootehill Friday August 25th.
The sell out concert was part of the Cootehill Arts Festival and was a fitting and dignified event. The concert was held in a 400 tiered seating circus type marquee. The wonderful and highly entertaining performance of the Clew Bay Pipe Band under the guiding hand of band leaders Peter Carney and Des Cafferkey was the highlight of an wonderful night of music, song and dance.
The director, John Blakey, who had been invited to a Chieftains' concert in Westport, where he first saw the band perform, knew that they would be perfect for the concert. They did not disappoint: the remit was to be respectful but not funereal, and that is exactly how they performed with a blend of powerful music and joyous even riotous songs that had the entire audience ( including some in their eighties) on their feet and dancing in the aisles.
Ray D'Arcy was the compere for the evening and later described the band's concert as "World Class" He introduced Triona Marshall of the Chieftains' an Martain Tourish of Alton, who played magically together. Zeke Deighton, well known folksinger from Yorkshire, brought the house down with his amusing song about a cockerel. Janice Igoe sang "Tears of Clew Bay" with the Band to rapturous applause and then Declan O'Rourke, Roscommon Solstice Choir and all joined in with Leonard Cohen's beautiful song "Hallelujah" finally lifting the roof with "Mull of Kintyre."
The Concert began with a solemn fly past and salute be the coastguard rescue helicopter, and a satellite link relayed a lone piper at Blacksod into the performance at sunset as the rest of The Clew Bay Pipe Band joined in . This was immediately followed by a world premier of "Irish Heros" , a piping tune composed by Des Cafferkey and dedicated to the four Heroes who lost their lives in Rescue 116 . All very emotional.
The special programme printed for the concert had letters specially written by President Michael D Higgins and HRH Prince William, himself a helicopter rescue Pilot. The Director also thanked all of the performers for giving their services for free and all proceeds go to the RNLI
This concert will live long in the memories of the families of those who died and indeed the people of Cootehill and far beyond.