They’re as much a part of a Cork Christmas as spiced beef or the crib at the Lough.
Now the famous St Luke’s Male Voice Choir are hitting the road to promote their debut Christmas album and to raise up to €100,000 for Marymount Hospice.
They will be joined on an open-top bus tour on Saturday by Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin who, as health minister, introduced the smoking ban which led to the choir’s founding.
The 40-strong choir spent two days recording the album in the chapel of the former Marymount Hospice on Wellington Rd earlier this year.
Choirmaster Anth Kaley said it was the perfect venue.
“We recorded it over two days in late February and early March — two beautiful sunny days with the sun streaming through the stained glass windows,” said Mr Kaley.
“The chapel is a lovely size and, acoustically, it was great. It really added to the vibe. It was a great experience.”
The CD, the choir’s first in its eight-year history, features traditional Christmas carols, some of which date from the 16th century, right up to modern classics.
The idea to record the album came from local taxi driver Diarmuid O’Flynn, who approached Mr Kaley after rehearsals in the Belle Vue Bar and offered to help fund it.
The choir then approached Marymount with the idea, and they provided extra funding.
Almost 10,000 CDs have been produced and they are now available citywide for €10, with all proceeds going to help Marymount meet its operating costs.
The hospice has always been one of the choir’s favourite charities since it was founded by regulars of nearby Henchy’s Bar just after the smoking ban was introduced.
Mr Kaley, a professional musician who has worked with The Vard Sisters and Kieran Goss, was walking past the pub one evening when he saw a group of smokers outside break in to song.
Among the group was his friend, Colm Murphy, who has played bodhran with De Dannan, who asked him if he’d direct their newly formed choir.
“We started with some simple stuff but today, we perform four and five-part harmonies, a capella,” said Mr Kaley.
Wearing trademark red scarves, they will tour Cork’s shopping centres on Saturday, performing at the Coal Quay market at about 11.30am, before singing at Wilton, Blackpool, Mahon Point, and Douglas shopping centres.
The choir will perform outside Henchy’s Bar on Dec 21, before their annual Christmas performances at various locations across the city centre on Dec 22.
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