The resumption of normal activities post Covid-19 restrictions has been a cause for celebration for countless voluntary clubs and organisations around the county in recent months.
For Mayo’s Rocks ‘n’ Roses Choir it has even more significance as the members reunited just in time to celebrate their 10th anniversary.
They have marked the landmark occasion in great style in recent weeks with a live performance at the Transatlantic Journey Home concert that took place in Castlebar’s TF Royal Theatre on May 28 as part of the Home to Mayo Festival and with a party at their final weekly rehearsal before the summer break on Wednesday, June 8 last.
Louise Killeen is the musical director of the Rocks ‘n’ Roses Choir. She explains that the group evolved from the Something to Sing About cancer survivors’ choir. It takes its name from Rock Rose House – the headquarters of Mayo Cancer Support – which has been the base for its activities for the last decade.
A registered charity, Mayo Cancer Support helps patients/survivors and their loved ones to navigate the experience of a cancer diagnosis by offering a comprehensive range of free supports.
Louise stresses that the Rocks ‘n’ Roses choir has never truly been about singing. The choir aims to boost members’ mental wellbeing through song and by providing a social outlet where they can meet others with a shared experience of cancer. The Rocks ‘n’ Roses choir is governed by a sense of fun and enjoyment.
"I’m not even a qualified musical director. I stand in front of the choir and I wave my hands up and down and they all just seem to know what we are doing," she laughs.
In addition to their love of music, members of the Rocks ‘n’ Roses Choir have a shared appreciation for life: "One of our members once said that life is not the same when you have had a cancer diagnosis but it can be better," Louise explained
Overcoming cancer can ultimately prove life-affirming for some, leaving them a lot more open to experiences than they previously might have been. The Rocks ‘n’ Roses choir has certainly presented its members with their fair share of fun experiences over the years. For some this has included joining the local Dragon Boat Club that was founded by Louise in 2015 to benefit the physical wellbeing of cancer survivors.
Choir members have also enjoyed lots of social outings and trips away together and some have participated in fly-fishing retreats with the Casting for Recovery charity. But there have been difficult times for the members too. The worst of these involved losing fellow members but the collective support of being part of a choir has helped to get them through the sad times.
Being based in Rock Rose House has also encouraged some members to reach out to Mayo Cancer Support and benefit from the wonderful free supports and services it provides. Louise says the charity has been nothing but supportive of the choir’s activities and, in return, they have undertaken fundraising to support its operations.
Following a remarkable decade of friendship, support and song, it is not surprising that the Rocks ‘n’ Roses choir delivered a spectacular performance when they finally got back on stage for the recent Transatlantic Journey Home concert.
Louise was blown away by the members’ composure on the occasion: "I could not have been prouder of them than I was that night. I get so much out of being with the members and seeing them laughing and having the craic."
The Rocks ‘n’ Roses Choir will resume its activities in September and extends an open invitation to any cancer patients/survivors – male or female - that would like to get involved.” For more information email [email protected].
If you would like to find out more about the work of Mayo Cancer Support, please email [email protected], call (094 )9038407 or follow its activities on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.