St Mary’s sweep the board at Feis Dhoire Cholmcille

Pupils from St Mary's College, pictured after their historic sucess at the Derry Feis. The pupils won every post primary choral competition, including the Michael Mason Cup for Choral Excellence. Included, are, Emma Jayne Kelly, choral director, Fionnuala Deane and Joan Keaveney, heads of department. Absent from photos, is accompanist, Jonathon Hutton.

Pupils from St Mary's College, pictured after their historic sucess at the Derry Feis. The pupils won every post primary choral competition, including the Michael Mason Cup for Choral Excellence. Included, are, Emma Jayne Kelly, choral director, Fionnuala Deane and Joan Keaveney, heads of department. Absent from photos, is accompanist, Jonathon Hutton.

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St Mary’s College choirs have swept the board at the Derry Feis - possibly the first time in 90 years of Feis history that one school has taken top honours in every choir category.

Choral director Emma Jayne Kelly says the school’s dominance is testament to the “hard work, dedication and enthusiasm” of all the pupils who took part and who gave up their Easter break to compete.

“It’s a great boost for the girls, and fantastic to see their hard work and dedication rewarded,” Ms Kelly told the ‘Journal’.

“All the local grammar and secondary schools were involved and their entries were of a very high standard.

“We are extremely proud of all the girls,” she says.

The Derry school’s choirs fended off the competition to bag all five choral cups they entered while the school also received top honours in the musical category for their extract from the Sound of Music.

The school was further honoured with a special award for a rendition of Elgar’s ‘The Snow’.

Feis judge Joe McKeever described the junior choir’s performance as perfect, going on to say “the girls obviously love singing. It’s great to see young people singing with a smiling.”

Ms Kelly says that sense of enjoyment was a common thread through all the choir’s award winning performances.

“Derry girls have a natural joy in their singing,” she says.

Feis musical secretary Pat MacCafferty described St Mary’s clean sweep as a remarkable feat.

He says it is the first time in living memory - and possibly in Feis history - that one school has dominated to such an extent.

“Their achievements are all the more worthy considering the quality of opposition they faced.” he says.

Ms Kelly also paid tribute to the choir’s accompanist, Jonathon Hutton, who she describes as a “ fantastic musician.”

“We are already looking forward to going back for the City of Culture year next year,” she says.