Bodhrán boys’ band to drum up support for monarch’s visit

PUPILS from one of Cork’s most famous schools are set for the royal performance of a lifetime.

The Bodhrán Bookills, a unique percussion band from St Joseph’s Boys national school on Cork’s Mardyke, who only play the bodhrán, will drum up support for the Queen of England’s historic visit to Leeside next Friday with a rousing performance of their own composition of rhythmical pieces outside the English Market.

Britain’s Queen Elizabeth II and her husband, the Duke of Edinburgh, are expected to pause and listen to the 70-strong band at some stage during their 20-minute visit to the city market.

The Bookills’ conductor, resource teacher John Drew, said excitement is now building.

“Everyone’s been saying that it’s a great honour for us to be chosen to perform for the queen, but my answer to that is that it’s a great honour for the queen to be able to listen to us,” he joked.

Band members were busy practicing their routine yesterday and several more sessions are planned over the coming days as the boys hone the performance.

The Bodhrán Bookills was set up in the school several years ago, with just a handful of members.

Today, there are about 70 performers, ranging in age from seven to 12. They perform at the annual Christmas concert and various other school functions.

They were invited by Meithéal Mara to play for the start of the 2005 Ocean to City Race.

And in conjunction with Meithéal Mara, the Bookills lead the city’s St Patrick’s Day parade in 2007. They won Best Children’s Group in the 2009 parade.

They also perform annual street concerts at Christmas, they travel to neighbouring primary schools to share their wonderful rhythms, and they have played concerts to raise money for community projects in Kenya and Tanzania.

Mr Drew said their motivation is “sheer enjoyment”. “They themselves compose and perform varied rhythmical pieces and employ a buddy system to teach the new younger arrivals to the band.”

The school is located close to UCC’s Tyndall Institute, which will be visited by the queen on Friday afternoon.

Because it is located inside the strict security zone, it will be closed on the day.

The Bookills will, however, meet at the school that morning, be subjected to a security check, and will be bussed inside the security cordon for their date with the royal couple.

Meanwhile, to mark the visit, the RTÉ National Symphony Orchestra has commissioned a fanfare from Navan-born Brian Byrne to open the main event programme.

The main event will also involve second-level students from Methodist College, Belfast and Presentation Secondary School, Ballyphehane, Cork, successive winners of the 2009 and 2010 All-Island School Choir Competition.

Picture: Some of the pupils with St Joseph’s NS Bodhrán Bookills, Mardyke, Cork. From left: Dylan O’Connor, Joshua Greene, Mark Traynor, and Mark McLoughlin. Picture: Denis Minihane


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