Ballinrobe Musical Society is in mourning this week following the death, after a short illness, of their much-loved musical director Noel Kirrane.
Mr Kirrane (53 ) was a native of Irishtown, Co Mayo, but lived in Tuam, Co Galway, where he was a popular and accomplished music and French teacher in St Jarlath’s College.
“We are all devastated by Noel’s death. He took ill recently and we had all hoped and prayed that he would pull through, but it was not to be. Noel was a musical genius and a wonderful man, a man we all looked up to almost as a father figure,” said Pat McGovern, chairman of Ballinrobe Musical Society, who added that Mr Kirrane had been honoured some years ago as an honorary member of the society in recognition of his contribution to their annual productions.
Mr Kirrane was musical director for Ballinrobe Musical Society for the past 15 years, and his last show was Titanic — A New Musical, for which he was honoured with the Best Chorus Award at the prestigious AIMS Awards in Killarney earlier this summer.
“Under Noel, we took on our most ambitious shows ever, most notably Ragtime the Musical and Titanic — A New Musical,” added Mr McGovern.
“Without him, we would not have been able to take on shows of such magnitude. For Noel, it was all about the performance of every person on that stage. You didn’t have to be the best singer, you just had to give your best.
“He was utterly committed to ensuring everyone could be the best that they could be. He didn’t care about awards. He never took a bow. His reward was in seeing people develop in their stage performances, and bringing a show to life.”
As a mark of respect, members of Ballinrobe Musical Society performed “We’ll Meet Tomorrow” at the removal of Mr Kirrane’s remains on Saturday night. “It was a poignant moment, and very hard on our members. That was the last chorus that Noel directed in his very last show. It is so hard to comprehend that he is no longer with us,” said Mr McGovern.
“In 15 years with us, he never missed a rehearsal. He wasn’t even late for rehearsal. Every winter, at the first rehearsal, he would open proceedings with the declaration ‘Mayo for Sam’. He was a proud Mayo man, a great lover of music, and a dear friend to so many people.
“He was someone we turned to for wise counsel. When you went on stage, you did it for Noel. If he gave out to you in his gentle way, it was like a parent giving out to you.
“He had a unique rapport with the members of this society, and it will not be the same without him.”
Mr Kirrane is survived by his devoted wife Aine, daughter Aine, who is studying music; sons Iarlaith and Oisin, and a wide circle of family and friends.