Ireland: Tales of History and Music

Ireland: Tales of History and Music

Two Upper School singing groups, Upper School Chorus and the Madrigals, enjoyed a journey to Ireland filled with history, music, and cultural discovery. Led by faculty members Annette Etheridge, Middle and Upper School music teacher and Choral Director, Sean Lowery, Director of Upper and Middle School Orchestras, Eva Carrasquero, Lower School music teacher and Arts Department Chair, and Danielle Gennaro, Bell Choir Director, students arrived on the Emerald Isle with curious minds and hearts open for exploration. 

They began with a day in Dublin, and the next day, enjoyed a walking tour of Kilkenny Castle. While in Kilkenny, students attended Mass amid St. Mary's church's solemn beauty and ancient walls. Delving deep in Ireland’s rich heritage, students also explored the majestic ruins of Jerpoint Abbey, built in the 12th century. Later, students delighted in watching border collies herding sheep in a demonstration that showcased Ireland’s enduring rural traditions. The group’s first performance was held in the beautiful St. Canice Cathedral in Kilkenny.

“It was absolutely incredible to be able to perform in Saint Canice’s Cathedral," noted Anna O. '24. "The visuals were stunning, and the acoustics were lovely as well."

Their journey took a scenic turn along the Wild Atlantic Way, a stunning drive that brought students to the iconic Cliffs of Moher. Amidst the natural beauty, students even performed an impromptu concert at the Cliff’s visitor center! Later, the group enjoyed lunch in Doolin, known as the capital of traditional Irish music. 

“Our trip to Ireland was an amazing experience,” said Annette Etheride. “It gave our students in all grades a chance to bond with each other, as well as with the students at our Mount Anville School. Our girls not only performed in amazing venues ,but harmonized on the bus and in the streets. They also wowed guests during two of our dinners. This trip was filled with the joy of singing. I was approached on many occasions by people expressing their gratitude for the beautiful music and how the girls' singing touched their hearts.  I was very proud of our girls and hope this was an experience they will cherish for many years.”

A visit to the historic Bunratty Castle added a medieval touch to the itinerary, immersing students in tales of Irish knights and nobility. Later, the group enjoyed a visit to Mount Anville School, a sister school in our Sacred Heart network, where the Madrigals performed in the school Chapel.  Following the performance, Mount Anville students treated the Madrigals to a presentation on traditional Irish dance and instruments, such as the Celtic harp, fiddle, and bodhran. Sacred Heart Greenwich students visited Mount Anville’s Mater portrait and learned about the rich history of Sacred Heart Schools in Dublin. 

Clara B. ’26 joined the Ireland trip straight from her Network Exchange visit to Spain. She writes, “Having seen three different Sacred Heart network schools (Sacred Heart Greenwich, Mount Anville, and Santa Maria del Valle) in the past two weeks, my appreciation for the Sacred Heart community has definitely grown, especially because of the similarities I have noticed between schools so far from each other in distance. The Sacred Heart schools in Ireland and Seville do not only contain traditional paintings of Mater like we have in our own school, but also other representations of Mater in the forms of murals and statues of various sizes. It was so inspiring to see the elements of Sacred Heart that connect us and to have the opportunity to get to know the students from the Mount Anville school.”

The group capped off their Dublin tour with a trip to Trinity College, where they saw the ancient Book of Kells and performed a final concert in St. Patrick’s Cathedral. 

As the journey drew to a close, the group ended on a high note in the well-known Merry Ploughboy’s Pub, where students entertained audiences with their rendition of “Seasons of Love.” It’s clear the Madrigals' trip to Ireland was more than a musical excursion, this was a transformative blend of adventure, learning, and cultural exchange that left students with a profound appreciation for the rich tapestry of the world around them. 

“I absolutely loved getting the chance to tour Ireland,” concluded Avery K. ’24. “Every moment was a gift, as we performed at cathedrals and local landmarks such as the Cliffs of Moher and the medieval Bunratty Castle and experienced Irish culture through music, food, architecture, dance, history, and the truly beautiful natural landscape. As a senior, I was especially grateful to spend time building relationships with underclassmen in the 9th grade chorus — as well as make new friends at our sister school in Dublin!”