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Foxford in Tune

2 min read

Foxford in Tune

2 min read


Foxford in Tune

For the first time, the Admiral Brown Comhaltas and the Foxford Brass and Reed Band brought together 100 musicians, currently involved in two different genres of music in Foxford, to compose and perform four unique pieces of music. To explain the significance of this music and really appreciate how special the musicians who led this project are, you need to first go back over a century to understand the creative legacy they are adding to.

In the late 1880s Mother Agnes Morrogh Bernard, having witnessed the poverty in Foxford stood on a bridge in town and watched the River Moy. She decided to harness the power of the river to provide for the people. In 1891, she opened a convent in Foxford and took over the national school in the extremely poor town. And against the odds, the Sisters of Charity founded the Providence Woollen Mill in Foxford in 1892, using power from the River Moy and with the strong belief, ‘Providence will Provide.’

Interwoven with the sisters work with the mill and the community is a love of music. In 1896, they established the Foxford Brass & Reed Band and went on to build a music school in 1923 in the town, establishing the Foxford Music School and orchestra. Everyone was encouraged to take part in music lessons where tuition was provided, and numerous musical events run by the Sisters of Charity took place over a long number of years. Specialized tutors were brought in, and young musicians were given every chance.

This a long tradition of music in Foxford, encouraged by the Sisters of Charity has endured but also grown as the Irish State formed and evolved. The founding of Comhaltas Ceoltóirí Éireann in 1951 greatly helped in bringing about a revival of interest in traditional music. Musicians who had trained in the Foxford Music School and the Brass and Reed Band became interested in traditional music. The fact that music was already held in such high regard in Foxford greatly helped the revival, and when Father Towey arrived in 1960, with an interest in promoting traditional music, things grew quickly. He gathered the local musicians together to form St Patrick’s Céilí Band. This united them into an incredible musical force and he formed a branch of CCÉ. Pakie Tynan, who had trained in the music school and was a very competent musician, was a leading force in the band. Pakie also trained junior bands.

Eamon Mangan

"“I’ve been dreaming of this since 1982, I really have.” "

Fleadh Cheoil na hEireann, which was held in Swinford in 1961, was an eye-opening event for the area. The Foxford Junior Band won first place, a remarkable achievement. “Foxford 1961” is the first inscription on the Mrs. Crotty Cup. They won again in 1965 in Thurles, but a long wait, until 2011, was to ensue before another Mayo band, Tiarna Mhaigh Eo, based in Foxford, under the musical direction of John McHugh, would join the names on the cup. Traditional music has gone from strength to strength in the town while the Brass Band is as strong as ever after 127 years.

The CCÉ Admiral Brown and Foxford Brass and Reed Band, have worked closely over the years but they have never had a chance to work on a collaboration. Over 2023, both the Brass Band and Foxford Traditional Musicians worked on a collaboration of four pieces of music. The first performance of this collaboration took place on a beautiful sunny day in October 2023, at the Foxford Woollen Mills during the Foxford Traditional Weekend.

The musicians would like to share their sincere thanks to Laurie Barrett and Stephen and Tom Doherty, who worked with both groups over the past few months. To, CreativeIrl, and Music Generation Mayo for making this collaboration possible, Joe Queenan and the Foxford Woollen Mills, and Edwina Guckian for capturing the beautiful atmosphere on the day. Míle buíochas to all the musicians involved.

Click here to watch Foxford in Tune

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