Ballina welcomes back rock star of 19th century

What has been described as ‘an exciting 10 days of rediscovery’ will be unveiled in Ballina from September 6 to 16 with the presentation of the Wallace Bicentenary Celebrations in the town.

The Wallace family, and notably William Vincent Wallace and his sister Eliza, will be remembered in an exhibition, a Wallace Trail Tour, a talk and a gala concert featuring their music and songs.

The Ballina Wallace Bicentenary Committee has planned the events to mark the birth 200 years ago of William Vincent Wallace, one of Ireland’s greatest composers, and his sister, Eliza, a celebrated diva, and their family roots and links in the Ballina/Killala area.

The Wallace roots go back a long way: for instance, Jacob Wallace, the composer’s grandfather, and Margaret Lyons were married in the Church of Ireland, Killala, on July 11, 1770.

William Vincent has been described as the rock star of his day with many compositions to his name, including the 1850s smash hits ‘Maritana’ and ‘Lurline’. He travelled widely to perform his music. He was musical director of the first opera house to be built in Mexico City, in 1841, made his US debut in New Orleans in 1842, and became a star virtuoso in New York in 1843, and performed in Australia and New Zealand, Cuba, throughout Europe and in North America, Vienna, England, Ireland, etc.

The Ballina celebrations will commence with the official opening at Ballina Library on Thursday, September 6 at 8pm.

There will be a tour of the Wallace Trail (Ballina/Killala/Enniscoe House ) on Wednesday, September 12, from Ballina Library at 1.45pm (must be prebooked at exhibition ). On Thursday evening, September 13, Mayor Willie Nolan and Ballina Town Council will host a civic welcome, and on Friday at 8pm Dr David Grant and Pete Jaggard, two of the leading world authorities on the Wallaces, will give the Wallace Talk in the Library.

On Sunday night, September 16 at 8pm, a gala concert will feature music associated with the Wallaces. The guests for the concert will include former President Mary Robinson, and fittingly, given the Wallace world links, the Mexican and Australian ambassadors. Taoiseach Enda Kenny has also been invited.

Gala concert tickets (€10 ) are available from Margaret Harrison (087 242 1762 ), Pat Diamond (087 259 0885 ), Ballina Tourist Office and Rouse Jewellers, and will also be on sale at the festival opening in the library on September 6 and again at the talk on September 14.

The concert will be going out live to the world on webcam and anyone wishing to have their family members overseas watching on the night acknowledged should email brief details (name of family member(s )/ city of residence only ) to [email protected] before September 10.

A commemorative souvenir programme for the celebrations, detailing the story of the Wallaces, some rare photographs and images, will be on sale (€2.50 )in the town and promises to be a collector’s item in years to come.

The Wallace organising committee is Liam MacHale, Margaret Harrison, Pat Diamond, Michael Hogan, Barry McLoughlin, Fr Muredach Tuffy and Terry Reilly (chairman ).

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