History made with National Anthem

Marcas O'Murchu, left, and Danny Meehan look forward to a night of music performed by Tom Byrne in McGrory's. (0109PG71)

Marcas O'Murchu, left, and Danny Meehan look forward to a night of music performed by Tom Byrne in McGrory's. (0109PG71)

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A Derry based traditional musician made history last weekend when he became the first person to play the National Anthem in Belfast City Hall.

Flute player Marcas Ó Murchú played Amhrán na bhFiann in the Great Hall of the landmark Belfast building - once regarded as a citadel of unionism - on Saturday night at a dinner celebrating the centenary of Antrim GAA club, St Gall’s.

Mr Ó Murchú grew up in Belfast but has lived in Derry for almost two decades and is currently head of Spanish at St Columb’s College.

He has played Irish music all over the world but said that last week’s performance was something special.

“It was a very moving experience to play my flute on Saturday night to a packed hall with so many people whom I know, the first occasion that Belfast City Council has given any Ulster GAA club a dinner in Belfast City Hall. This for me was a wonderful honour and an historic event to be the musician chosen to step up to the microphone to play our National Anthem,” he said.

Mr Ó Murchú said the occasion showed the unifying power of music. “As I spoke to those around me I was proud to be an equal in the city in which I spent my youth. As I drove back to Derry afterwards and glanced up at the Guildhall where I have performed on several occasions, I felt that something special has happened in Ireland in recent years and that in many ways we have all moved forwards on the one road.”