JOHN McCORMACK 1884-1945

by ehistoryadmin on February 9, 2019

John McCormack 1884-1945

A Symposium of Tributes

John McCormack was the chief international artist that came from Ireland’s shores.  If there be any feelings which more than others excite the human heart they are the emotions of joy and pride, and by the power of his natural gifts he gave his people immense pleasure and joy, and at the same time, enabled them to be justly proud of their countryman’s fame in the realm of music.

My first impression on meeting John was that he seemed to love and imbibe knowledge with a great and vehement love.  Music, languages, poetry, paintings, writings – art in its every form – appeared to be part of himself.  A deeply religious man, his artistry in song was Godgiven.  I always felt while listening to him that he never failed to praise and thank God in his vocal melodies for the great gifts bestowed upon him.

In the elusive gift that one calls interpretation he shone supreme.  It was not with the lips alone, so to speak, that he sang, but with every vibration of his soul.  He sang with spirit and with complete understanding.  Those of us who were privileged to hear his rendering of the Panis Angelicus in the Pheonix Park in 1932 – a whole expression of homage and adoration – cannot fail to realise the deep fervour lying underneath all his performances.

Many of the world’s best-known musicians have not possessed what may be termed the “all-round” brains of John McCormack; for instance, his unerring skill in programme building.  Never, to the best of my recollection, did I hear a suspicion of criticism of the songs chosen by him for his listeners.  He was perfection in his choice.  On many occasions he actually suggested items to instrumentalists assisting at his recitals, so broad was his knowledge of string music.  I know also his great familiarity with the many orchestral symphonies and works – not only did he know them but could rarely be puzzled in the various movements, which he could place immediately on hearing and name their composers and opus numbers.  Many conductors envied John his retentiveness on this particular point.  I understand he would have chosen – were it possible – to be a great conductor!

To my mind comes yet another aspect of this fine artist’s character – it remained unalterable and even strengthened through the flattering falsities of the glamorous life that pursued him.  I refer to his complete devotion to his charming and clever wife, Lily.  No praise was too lavish, no jewel too scintillating for the partner who had helped and contributed so much to the making of his brilliant and successful career.  I once remarked to him that the greatest thing he had done in his lifetime was to marry Lily Foley.  With the quickness for which he was famed he replied, “I know that, but why don’t you say it before her?”

John McCormack’s contributions to charity have, I fear, never been fully appreciated or realised.  How many of us remember his work for our White Cross Fund in 1920?  This fund was for the relief of the people of Ireland during the Black and Tan terror.  John’s American tour realised £35,000.  This sum was acknowledged and published by the White Cross Committee in 1922.

Other concerts at the old Theatre Royal resulted in a sum of £1,200 for the Mater Hospital and £1,813 for the St. Vincent de Paul Society.

In aid of the poor of Athlone – his native town – he gave a concert by which they benefited to the amount of £1,466.  This concert was especially interesting for one reason – it was the only time that a serious rival appeared at one of John’s concerts!  On this occasion it was his son, Cyril, then a young boy who, in an Irish costume, canvassed the entire house selling programmes with his father’s autograph, and returned a record sum for his work.

There was also a concert in aid of the Benedictine nuns of the Kylemore Abbey. In addition, his readiness to help various international charities such as the Red Cross Society, French Tubercular Soldiers, etc., kept him with a never-ending list of requests from those in need.

He has passed from amongst us a man of splendid character and supreme artistry – one who always gave generous help and encouragement to those about to embark on the difficult road of artistic achievement of which none knew the difficulties and disillusionments better than he.

The memory of him shall not depart and his name shall go down from generation to generation as the greatest Irish singer.  Many a prayer will be raised here, as elsewhere, for the soul’s happiness of John McCormack.

MAUD AIKEN

Capuchin Annual 1946-47

 

[Postcard of Moore Abbey where McCormack lived for some years in Co. Kildare – taken from the Local Studies Collection]


NEWBRIDGE BARRACKS 1919

by ehistoryadmin on February 1, 2019

Newbridge Barracks 1919

James Durney

In December 1919 the order of battle and location list for Newbridge Barracks consisted of six batteries of artillery. The 4th Brigade, Royal Horse Artillery, which had served with the 3rd Cavalry Division on the Western Front during the Great War, was reformed in Newbridge in May 1919. C and K Batteries joined II Brigade, RHA, at Bordon and were replaced by I Battery, RHA and L Battery, RHA, from Germany and were stationed at Newbridge and Kilkenny respectively. The 36th Brigade, Royal Field Artillery, served with the 2nd Infantry Division on the Western Front. It had three batteries in Newbridge and one stationed in Kildare Barracks. The units were:

4th Brigade, Royal Horse Artillery, HQ, (Newbridge) Lt.-Col. A. B. Forman, CMG, DSO.

P Battery, Major C. B. Findlay, MC.

R Battery, Capt. A. G. Hewson, MC.

I Battery , Lt.-Col. J. L. Philips, DSO.

36th Brigade, Royal Field Artillery, HQ, (Kildare) Col. A. Hinde, CMG.

15th Battery, Maj. F. B. Binney.

71st Battery, Maj. G. Masters, DSO.

142nd Battery, Maj. J. L. C. White, MC.

MR. G. W. GRAHAM, KILDARE

January 30, 2019

MR. G. W. GRAHAM, KILDARE

Leinster Leader, 17 May 1952 Mr. G. W. Graham, Kildare Mr. George W. Graham, Grey Abbey House, Kildare, whose death occurred at the Drogheda Memorial Hospital, Curragh, after a short illness, was one of Kildare’s leading businessmen, and had been in business in the town for over 45 years. Deceased, who was of advanced years, was a native of Donadea but spent the greater part of his life in Kildare. The late Mr. Graham purchased Grey Abbey House and farm […]
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HARRISTOWN CEMETERY

January 30, 2019

HARRISTOWN CEMETERY

Leinster Leader, 10 May 1952 Harristown Cemetery Priest of the Penal Period Kildare Move to Renovate Tombstones A committee has been formed at Nurney, Kildare, for the purpose of renovating the tombstones of Priests of the Penal period at Harristown cemetery. Harristown is a very old and historic cemetery, and it is hoped by this means to keep alive the memory of these patriotic priests. The tombstones that need renovating are as follows:- Very Rev, Bryan Dempesy, the inscription on whose […]
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DEATH OF DISTINGUISHED CARMELITE

January 30, 2019

DEATH OF DISTINGUISHED CARMELITE

Leinster Leader 1 July 1922 Death of Distinguished Carmelite Kildare Priest’s Career Pioneer of the Order in New York The following appeared in a New York publication dated May 20th:- The Very Rev. Edward P. Southwell, one of the pioneers of the Irish Carmelite Fathers in this city, who was the founder and for nearly a quarter of a century prior of the Church of Our Lady of the Scapular of Mount Carmel in East Twenty-eight street, died on Wednesday night, […]
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WILLIAM WALL, 1915

January 30, 2019

WILLIAM WALL, 1915

Nationalist and Leinster Times 1 May 1915. Athy soldier Athy soldiers figure in the rout of the Germans at Neuve Chapelle. Amongst those killed was William Wall, No. 3183 of C Co., 4th Leinster Regiment. He worked at Mr. Stephen Heydon’s of Churchtown, and went out with the Expeditionary Force last August. He got four wounds on the night of April 10th, and died at four the next morning. He was buried in a cemetery in France, and a cross […]
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MISS MINNIE MURPHY, ATHY

January 30, 2019

MISS MINNIE MURPHY, ATHY

Leinster Leader 24 June 1944 Miss Minnie Murphy. Obituary Miss Minnie Murphy who died in Dublin last week at an advanced age, was sister of the Misses Gypsy, Annie and Zillah Murphy, Emily Square, Athy. Having qualified in England as a nurse, she nursed the troops in France in the Great War from 1914 to 1918. On her return to Ireland she continued in the nursing profession and during the flu epidemic following the war she did heroic work in […]
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SWORN TO BE FREE. A NATION REBORN

January 19, 2019

SWORN TO BE FREE. A NATION REBORN

Sworn to be Free – A Nation Reborn The 1918 Election marked a watershed in Irish politics. There were 105 seats for 103 constituencies, but since four MPS were elected for two of these, the total number elected was 101. The newly energised Sinn Féin party romped home winning a total of 73 seats, of which 25 were uncontested. As four of their candidates were elected for two constituencies a total of 69 were elected as Sinn Féin MPS for […]
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1919: THE FIRST DAIL EIREANN

January 19, 2019

1919: THE FIRST DAIL EIREANN

The First Dáil Éireann. 100 Years ago. On 21 January 1919, at 3.30 p.m, Dáil Éireann sat in session for the very first time in a packed Mansion House, in Dawson Street, Dublin. Cathal Brugha, as the newly elected TD for Waterford, was proposed and seconded as Ceann Comhairle or Speaker. Having emphasised the important work which lay before the Dáil and asking Rev. Fr. Michael O’Flanagan to give a blessing, Brugha called the roll of TDs for the island. […]
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KILLEEN CORMAC – SHARON GREENE

January 19, 2019

KILLEEN CORMAC – SHARON GREENE

THE STORY OF KILLEEN CORMAC Dr. Sharon Greene Monday, 4 February 2019 The Tanyard, Ballitore at 7.30. The Little Church of King Cormac. Drive down the the R448 from Kilcullen, near Walls of Kilgowan you cross over the M9 Mororway, about 2 km down the road take the turning L8082 on your left, after 1.5 km you come to a T junction, now take a left and 800m on your right you will see Killeen Cormac – The Little Church […]
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