Music to her ears - Niamh is crowned All Ireland winner

Wednesday, 15 February 2017

Music to her ears - Niamh is crowned All Ireland winner thumbnailNiamh McDowell was crowned this year’s All Ireland Solo Singer in the Scór na nÓg final at the weekend.

NIAMH McDowell was crowned this year's All Ireland Solo Singer in the Scór na nÓg final at the weekend.

Niamh, who represents Glasdrumman GAC, had already proved to be a force to be reckoned with after capturing over a period of months, the South Down, County and Ulster titles.

Niamh sang a Ralph McTell song "It's a long way from Clare to here". Geographically, the journey from Glasdrumman to the Waterfront Hall in Belfast is about 35 miles.

For Niamh McDowell, it has brought her, the Glasdrumman club, her parents, relatives, mentors and many supporters from rehearsals in September, through to All Ireland glory in this year's Scór na nÓg final.

Niamh was up against the cream of the other three provinces Seosamh O'Baoill from County Tipperary in Munster, Ava Nic Gilolla Phadraig from Mayo in Connacht and Orlaith Ni Mhuiri from Westmeath in Leinster.  

Niamh had to wait patiently in the wings while the other singers completed their songs. As expected in an All Ireland Final the three were exceptional singers. Niamh was then called to the stage and after settling herself delivered, to those of us listening, a flawless performance of the song which got  her through to this stage "John Condon".

Every word and phrase were crystal clear in their delivery and the fact that at the end of the song many had tears in their eyes, meant she delivered perfectly on telling the story and conveying the raw emotion contained in it. One had to keep reminding oneself that here was a young lady of thirteen years old holding the audience in a packed auditorium  of one of the most prestigious venues in our country   enthralled from the start to the finish of her song. 

A performance and a day that will live long in the memories of those present to witness it not just from Glasdrumman and the Mourne area but from all four corners of this island. As always  Niamh had delivered of her best and now it was a waiting game for the results.  

We, as a Club, could not have asked any more from Niamh in terms of her commitment, rehearsal and song delivery. She was coming home to us as a Champion irrespective of the results on the day . She'd already written her own unique chapter in our Club's history.  

Our County was also represented on the day by the quiz team of Ballyholland  who gave a good account of themselves pipped in the final round to fellow Ulster Club, Naomh Columa, Co Donegal. Mayobridge who  have been our constant companioins and  fellow travellers . were competing in the very tight Ballad Group section  again being pipped by Moate All-Whites, Co Westmeath. 

When the results finally came through  we waited with bated breath for "Amrhanaioct Aonair" Buaiteoir An Duin, Niamh NicDubhgaill as Glasdromain. There was a mighty cheer not only from our own County but also  from our fellow Ulster competitors.

As Niamh made her way to the stage  she was surrounded  by many wellwishers, the hall was alive with Down and Glasdrumman flags.

She climbed the steps to the stage with cheers ringing in her ears, and a Down flag clutched in her hand.  She was presented her cup and medal by Paraic Dufffy  ARD Stiurthóir C.L.G and Michael Hassan Chairman of the Ulster Scór committee. After she received her awards, she went over to our County Scór Secretary, Paula Magee who was helping out onstage on the day as part of Provincial duties and received a great hug.

Paula and William James Smith, our County Cultural Officer along with our County Chairman, Sean Rooney and the County Board, have been tremendous supporters to Niamh and the Club throughout this whole journey.  

Once all the  awards were presented, the complete Glasdrumman contingent made its way to the stage to get many photos with our Champion.  

Her proud parents and sister, along with granparents, aunts , uncles and cousins were  to use a line I've used in earlier article "Walking on Sunshine" with our very own Star of the County Down.  

It would be impossible to individually thank all from  the other competing counties who came over to congratulate Niamh and who wished  her and our Club all the luck in the future. Go raibh Maith agabh go leir. To Edel, Gavin Eimear, Justin, Katey and Bernadette "Béidh lá Eile ag Droichead Mhaigh Eo".

Then it was on to the bus and back to Glasdrumman, where the reception committee was waiting.  

After a brief detour to show her trophy to Granny McDowell, Niamh entered the hall to a very warm and welcoming ovation from all present.  

One of the first on hand to greet her was our Scór veteran Art McCartan who took great pride in all her achievements. Niamh took to the stage and thanked all who've supported her throughout Scór na nÓg 2017. She thanked her parents, her mentors Joanne, Donna and Tony as well her fellow Scór teammates Peter, Aoife, Dan and Cara from the Instrumental Group as well as Ciara, Aoife, Clodagh and Tara from the Ballad group and to all from the Club and County who  encouraged her during the competitions and gave a special mention to Dan McCartan for opening the school for us to rehearse in. 

All present then enjoyed a beautiful supper put together by Tucker, Ann Marie, Mairin. Then a great night's craic ensued with Niamh singing her solo song, and then performing sets with the rest of her Scór companions. We appreciate and thank all who attended the homecoming and contributed in any way to the night's success.

We thank Coiste Contae an Duin and all who have sponsored Niamh's journey to success. Our wee star is in for a busy time ahead starting with Radio Interviews for Q102 Kevin McAllister yesterday (Monday) and Tom Kelly on Saturday as well as attending our Club's award ceremonies on Saturday night in Quinn's the Spirit Grocer's. Contact any committee member regarding tickets and time. Then she'll be in Mayobridge on Sunday evening at the Scór Sinsir South Down final . Check the Club's Facebook page for further updates and details.

Our thanks also to everybody who passed their best wishes to Niamh on social media not only from the four corners of Ireland but further afield as well and to our friends in Mayobridge for the warm welcome and hospitality extended to Niamh, her parents and mentors on Sunday evening .

Our Senior Ballad group will be competing in the South Down Final this Sunday (19 February) in Mayobridge, starting time 6pm. We look forward to your support.


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