Piano will help Cliona reach for the stars

CLIONA FITZGERALD could barely reach the piano keys when she started showing signs of a rare musical ability.

That was at the age of four and such was her progress that her parents, Betty and Darragh, from Whitechurch, Blarney, enrolled her in Cork School of Music when she turned six.

Now, almost eight years later and under the tutelage of Susan Cap, Cliona is proving her worth, winning the coveted Lyric fm/Pianos Plus all-Ireland competition and, with it, the use of a top of the range Kawai piano worth 9,000.

“We’re all delighted,” said Betty, a piano teacher, yesterday, proud of her daughter’s success. “She can’t believe it. A second piano will come in handy, of course, and we’ll make the room for it, although I’ll probably have to ask her permission to use it.”

That might be easier said than done. Cliona, 13, was so busy practising a Beethoven sonata that she could only manage a quick “I’m thrilled” before going back to the keyboards.

Not that music is her only passion. “She also loves gymnastics, swimming and plays basketball at school in Carrignavar,” said Betty.

“She’s a very normal girl and she really enjoys team sports.”

Two of her sisters, Emer, 10, and Ailbhe, seven, are also being taught by Susan Cap and it already looks like the baby of the family, Maebh, two, will follow in their footsteps.

“She is constantly singing,” said Betty. “Considering that I teach piano and Darragh plays guitar, I suppose she just won’t be able to help herself.”

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