New Journal photos book looks back at golden years of Derry Feis

A new photographic compilation of Derry Feis - featuring hundreds of pictures from the archives of the ‘Derry Journal’ - is due to hit the bookshelves in the next few days.

Derry Feis - The Golden Years’ is jam-packed full of wonderful images of Feis Doire Colmcille from the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s.

The book is a joint initiative from the ‘Derry Journal’ and Guildhall Press and features hundreds of beautifully reproduced black and white photographs.

The man behind the new book, the Derry Journal’s Sean McLaughlin, says its publication is timely with Feis Doire Colmcille currently celebrating its centenary.

Winners in the various dancing competitions at the 1962 Feis included pupils of the Barrett, De Glin, McLaughlin and O’More Schools.

He says the Journal and the Feis are both unique Derry institutions synonymous with the town we love so well.

“They are each distinct and unique in their own way but, at the same time, both characterise what is truly exceptional about our city,” says Sean.

“It’s purely coincidental that both these illustrious institutions should, in 2022, celebrate special birthdays. The Journal marked its 250th anniversary at the beginning of June and, in a few weeks’ time, the Feis will commemorate its centenary.

“The histories of both the Journal and the Feis have, in a sense, become inextricably linked over the years. For the past century, ever since the inaugural Feis took place in the early summer of 1922, the Journal has been religiously chronicling its story via competition results and winners’ photos.

1976... William Carson and Desmond Fitzgibbon, of St Patrick’s Boys’ School, Pennyburn, first in the violin duet (under 12).

“Indeed, almost as important as winning a medal was getting your photo in the Journal.”

The book itself focuses on, arguably, the glory years of the Feis. It was the era of Feis greats such as Cissie Parlour, Pat and Una McCafferty, Ron Plummer and a young Rosemary Brown (Dana).

In later years, Feargal Sharkey, of The Undertones, Nadine Coyle, of Girls Aloud, and Bronagh Gallagher, singer and TV/film star, would also grace the stages of the Guildhall and St Columb’s Hall.

The new book will be available to buy from a variety of outlets locally and online.

1966... Prizewinners in the junior piano section (10-12). From left are Mairead McCann, Nuala Cosgrove, Madeleine Donnelly (first), Fionnuala Carlin and Catriona Stone.
Pat MacCafferty, pictured here after winning the bass solo competition at the 1962 Feis, would go on to become synonymous with the Easter Week cultural festival.
1981... Prizewinners in the confined dancing competitions. From left: Vourneen McLaughlin, first in the reel, set dance, slip jig and hornpipe (all under 16); Andrea Freeman, first in the reel and jig (under 8); Sheree McGill, first in the jig (under 11); and Maura Fox, first in the jig (under 10).
1986... Brothers Ciaran (left) and Shaun O’Connell, prizewinners in boys’ song and verse (under 11).