Donegal Choir invited to sing  in St Peter’s Basilica in Rome

By Dionne Meehan

A DONEGAL choir will travel to Rome at the end of the month to perform in St. Peter’s Basilica.

Cór Ailigh, made up of 20 members, will begin their travels on May 31 ahead of their upcoming tour of Rome.


Performing entirely as gaeilge, the choir will join Monsignor Eamonn Mc Laughlin at 12 pm Mass in St Peter’s Basilica on June 1 before their performance in the Irish College at 10am on June 2.

Speaking to the Donegal News, tour co-ordinator, Micheál Ó Giobúin described the tour as a “wonderful opportunity” and a “tremendous honour” for the members of Cór Ailigh.

“St Peter’s Basilica is the spiritual heart of the Catholic tradition and singing at Mass there is really the holy grail for church choirs.

“It’s also a real privilege to sing in the historical Irish College which was founded in 1628”, he said.

Bunaíodh Cór Ailigh sa bhliain 2001 chun cuidiú le ceiliúradh a dhéanamh ar an t-aifreann gaeilge in Ardeaglais Naomh Adhamhnáin, Leitir Ceanainn.

Fír agus mná atá sa chór, agus tá áit thábhachtach i stair agus i scéal cheol na h-áite aige.

Ba é Micheál Ó Giobúin, Una Ní Bhriain agus Roisín Uí Dhochartaigh a bhunaigh an cór , agus is é Áine Nic Niocáil atá mar stiúrthóir.


Ghlac an cór páirt i gcomórtas éagsula thar na blianta lena n-áiritear an tOireachtas agus an Fhéile Phan Cheilteach.

Mr Ó Giobúin paid tribute to Monsignor Kevin Gillespie who secured the invitations, to Rome, for the choir.

Micheál Ó Giobúin presents a painting by local artist Audrey Henry on behalf of Cór Ailigh to an tAthair Caoimhin Mac Giolla Easpaig, as a mark of appreciation for his contribution to Cór Ailigh’s tour to St Peter’s Basilica and the Irish College in Rome. Also in photo is Cór Ailigh’s musical director Anne Nicholls and choir member Gavin Burke.

“He has been a great source of encouragement and support for us since he arrived in St Eunan’s Cathedral.

“He has a true grá for the Irish language,” he said.

The choir looks forward to meeting with Monsignor Eamonn Mc Laughlin who will be one of their hosts whilst in Rome.

He has recently been appointed by Pope Francis to the position of adjunct under-secretary of the Formation Office of the Dicastery for the Clergy.

Mr Ó Giobúin also thanked Cór Ailigh’s musical director, Anne Nicholls, for the dedication, professional guidance and support that she has given the choir since taking up the role.

She will be ably assisted on the tour by Bridghín Carr (organ/keyboard), Martin Mc Ginley (Fiddle) and Aoife Shiels (Tin Whistle).

Mr Ó Giobúin acknowledged the input of former musical directors namely Úna Ní Bhriain and Frank Breslin.

Wishing the members of Cór Ailigh every blessing ahead of their travels to Rome, Fr Eamonn Gillespie recalled how they brought the beauty of liturgical music, in the Irish language, faithfully to Aifreann na Gaeilge at St. Eunan’s Cathedral each first Sunday of the month at 10am.

“They will now have the opportunity to sing the praises of God at St. Peter’s, expressing our union in faith and love with Pope Francis and honouring St. Peter whose tomb is there.

“They will join with the Irish community in Rome at the Irish College for Sunday Mass, the place that has formed a visible link between the Church in Ireland and the Eternal City over the course of four centuries.

“I wish them every blessing and a profound experience of the universal Church that is found unique in Rome,” Fr Gillespie concluded.

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