Lismorahaun Singers  

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In 1999 a love for singing brought together a small group of people in the home of Archie Simpson in the townland of Lismorahaun near Lisdoonvarna. Their purpose was to form a choir to sing for the Christmas Mass in the local small church in Fanore. A few had come up the Caher Valley: in the murky darkness driving slowly on the narrow road crossing the only surface river in the Barony of The Burren, the Caher River. Some more had come from Ballyvaughan: up the winding Corkscrew Hill to the plateau above Lisdoonvarna. A few more were neighbors who had come to know that Archie had a special way with people and music. Ten people in all, and out of that small beginning came the wellspring of world-class singing that is today’s Lismorahaun Singers.

And from that an invitation by John O’Donohue, rising philosopher of his generation and author if many works including world best seller ‘Anam Cara’, (and as it happened a Catholic Priest who was co-celebrant at the Christmas Mass).....
an invitation to perform for the dawn mass at the ruined 13th century Cistercian Corcomroe Abbey, which cemented the lust for singing that was in the bowels of the people of North Clare....

but before and through all that was Archie Simpson, one time oboist, chorister, piano tuner and lover of the human voice who had settled in the stone house of the FitzGeralds at Lismorahaun at the top of the hill that winds down into the Caher Valley...
Archie had begun to train some local young people in voice when he met Penelope Bruce a respected classical singing teacher and once acclaimed mezzo-soprano from Tasmania. Penelope offered to pass on the techniques she had absorbed from Eduardo Asquez. An Anglo-Portuguese teaching in London Asquez was himself a much-respected tenor and later vocal teacher who was obsessed with re-capturing the height of the 19th century art of bel canto. The power of his method which is called‘open singing’ was immediately apparent and Archie has been a leading teacher and promoter of this approach ever since.


Throughout the early 2000s the choir built its repertoire and performed concerts extensively in the region. It released its first disc “Roaring Water” in 2001.
By 2004 the choir had the confidence to undertake its first major work and presented the west of Ireland premier of Mozart’s Requiem in April 2005. This work was taken to the Concert Hall in Limerick and to the RDS in Dublin. The sonority of this production was critically well received and it reinforced the growing reputation of Lismorahaun Singers. The choirs live recording of the Requiem by Amadeus Mozart was released in 2005.
The Lismorahaun Singers travelled to Italy in 2007 and also sang at many venues throughout Clare Limerick and Galway in 2006/8.

In 2009 the Lismorahaun Singers presented Mozart’s Mass in C minor in a joint production with the London Symphony Chorus. The combined choir of over 150 voices thrilled the packed Church in Ennistymon and it marked the coming of age for the choir. It was the tenth anniversary celebration and the Lismorahaun Singers were grateful for the support and enthusiasm of their colleagues and friends in the LSC. A bittersweet occasion that concert also marked the first anniversary of the untimely death of John O’Donohue great friend, early sponsor, and President Patron of the Lismorahaun Singers.

The choir has had the luck and privilege to both sponsor and benefit from the young soloists that have grown from its midst. The Requiem was recorded with soloists drawn solely from the choir’s members and our own soloists again mainly supported the Mass in C minor. The choir supported these young soloists in their vocal training and most have gone on to launch their careers in the wider world, winning prizes and scholarships in Dublin, Manchester, Vienna, and New York.

The Lismorahaun Singers Story

It all began when Archie Simpson moved to the Burren in the early nineties, having worked in the music industry in Scotland and Dublin. He came to Fanore to tune the piano for PJ and Dympna O Donohue. A singsong began, more followed, word got around and neighbours and friends joined in. Singsongs led to music lessons for local children, followed by a Christmas choir in Fanore church in 1998 and finally the founding of The Lismorahaun singers in 1999. From an initial group of ten members meeting weekly in Archie’s kitchen, the choir has now grown to over 100 members ranging in age from 7 to 65.

Since the debut performance, the choir has gone on to perform in more than 45 concerts throughout the West, raising more than 35,000 Euro for local charities. Christmas concerts in Ballyvaughan, Clarecastle, Lisdoonvarna, Ennis and Kinvara: outdoor concerts in the Caher Valley at the Burren College of Art and the shores of Lough Greaney: performances at The University of Limerick, Ennis Cathedral, The National Concert Hall, Clifden Arts festival are among the many memorable events for the choir. While every performance is special, certain milestones resonate in the memory of the choir. Strains of the Hallelujah chorus heralding the arrival of daybreak in the ruins of the 12th century Corcomroe Abbey as John O Donohue celebrated the Easter Dawn Mass in 2000 is a treasured memory. Powerful and poignant, the now much expanded choir singing at the memorial celebration of John’s death in Galway Cathedral on February 2nd 2008. The choir sang its broken heart out for John, its beloved patron, who epitomised the very power, energy and specialness of the Burren, which had given birth to the Lismorahaun Singers.
Enthusiasm, ambition and energy grew as the choir expanded and its young members, nurtured by the scholarship fund, rose to stardom. The time was ripe for moving from a selection of classical works to one great masterpiece. On Good Friday, March 25th 2005, the Lismorahaun Singers, with the City of Dublin Concert Orchestra, conducted by Archie Simpson, performed Mozart’s Requiem, in St Michael’s Church, Ennistymon. Soloists, Naomi O Connell, Kate Daly, Peter O Donohue and Michael Mulqueeney were all members of the choir. The success of this major achievement led to the choir subsequently performing this work to a sell-out audience some months later at The RDS Dublin.

Spreading its wings, the choir accepted an invitation from the Community of Pozzoleone, twinned with Ennistymon to visit and perform in concert In February 2007. Eighty choir members enjoyed the hospitality of this Italian community and a truly memorable visit to Venice during Carnivale.

In July 2015 The Lismorahaun Singers travelled to Bolognia to perform in a joint concert with the Mikrokosmos Choir who returned to North Clare and took part in a further joint concert in New Church the following summer.
In October 2016 a group of young singers known as Osterbro Pigeker from Denmark came to join us in concert at New Quay, our second joint concert in as many years.

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