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Ceol Phádraig

Music at St Patrick’s College Drumcondra, 1875-2016


Edited By John Buckley and John O'Flynn

Since its foundation in 1875, the activities of St Patrick’s College Drumcondra and its graduates have been closely woven into the educational and cultural fabric of Irish society. This volume charts how music and music education have fulfilled a major role throughout the history of the Dublin-based establishment that began as a teacher training college and later evolved into a college of education and liberal arts. Graduates of St Patrick’s College have taught hundreds of thousands, if not millions of pupils across the country, have made significant contributions to various facets of professional and amateur music activity, and have had an invaluable influence on the wellbeing of individuals, the development of communities and the advancement of the nation as a whole.

The book records and interprets key musical developments, appraises the work of major contributors, and captures the activities of students, staff and visiting musicians at St Patrick’s College up to its incorporation into Dublin City University in 2016. It represents a major scholarly work that details the progress of music at a university college in Ireland, and it is envisaged that its varied chapters and themes will evoke further memories and discussions among graduates of the College and others.

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Chapter Six: Vocal and Choral Music (John O’Flynn)


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Chapter Six: Vocal and Choral Music

John O’Flynn


No one can watch a choir successfully singing fine choral music without seeing that no other activity, social or artistic, creates the same intense feeling of delight, physical, mental, spiritual and moral, evokes such a complete manifestation of the whole personality, generates such vivid enthusiasm and ambitious striving, affords such opportunity for spontaneous yet harmonious communal effort, or results in such complete self- expression.1

The human voice represents a primary source for musical experience and development. This capacity for vocal music can be recognized at an individual level, especially when considering the artistry of an accomplished singer. It is arguable though, as the above quote from Donnchadh Ua Braoin, Head Organising Inspector of Musical Instruction in Ireland from 1931-1947 suggests, that singing’s potential for developing musicality and wider human and cultural understanding is more intensely felt when voices combine together to train and develop, and ultimately communicate and perform choral music. Choral singing may also contribute to our health and well-being, and can further act as a catalyst in social bonding for various groups, including students attending professional and academic programmes at universities and other tertiary institutions.2 The terms ‘vocal’ and ‘choral’ are of course closely related. While in contemporary usage ‘choral’ usually relates to the activities of choirs, ‘vocal music’ was the equivalent term used throughout the late- nineteenth and early-twentieth centuries. At that time, ‘vocal music’ was...

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