Surprise for Raymond as he is presented with Tommy Makem Scroll of Honour

October 9, 2012

Well known Irish  song, music and dance enthusiast Raymond Lonergan from Ayallogue Road, Meigh was given a special surprise on Friday  night when he was presented with the Tommy Makem Scroll of Honour at the annual festival at the City Hotel in Armagh.

Family members and friends knew well in advance of the honour but Raymond, who has been the festival’s most enthusiast support since its inception, wasn’t aware until he arrived at the event.

A spokesman for the festival said that throughout his life, Raymond Lonergan promoted the traditional role of the singer, the storyteller, the musician and the dancer in rural Irish life, a tradition going back down the centuries, and which his enthusiasm helped to keep alive in his district.

“Raymond always a strong sense of rural identity, was always dedicated to the traditional ways and art forms of his community and understood the importance of the overall Irish cultural inheritance.

“Since this festival started back in the year 2000, he has been constant in his endless and boundless support. From its earliest days, when the “Keepers of the Tradition” event was launched, and every year for the past twelve years, he has been a mainstay in making suggestions, giving encouragement, checking how things are going, proposing names to be honoured, and of course, always being there.

Over three hundred people heard that Raymond comes from a family steeped in Irish music, song and dance. A native of Tullyherrin near Markethill, both his parents, his father Patrick and mother Annie, were always proud of their cultural traditions and all nine sons and daughter were made aware of the wealth of their traditional music and song inheritance.

Several of Raymond’s brothers including himself took up the accordion and others took up the fiddle, and for years their enthusiasm for the song and music took them to Fleadhs and Festivals and sessions all over Ireland. The song tradition was very strong in their native area and in the days of ceileing, now sadly gone,  they took part in the singing and sharing of songs.

While he was a good singer himself who would render “Pat Murphy’s Meadow” if asked for a party piece, and while he was an excellent ceili dancer, and while he would listen to the reel and jig and hornpipe all night, it was as supporter and giver of confidence that his greatest gifts lay.

“He stood for his culture. He acknowledged the song and music and dance tradition of all cultures, that this was their life blood, the sap of any people. He expressed himself through this culture, as did all the Lonergans of that family,

“The great singers and song collectors and writers are exceptionally important, but if there is no one to lift them, to thank them, to praise them, to applaud them, they will eventually wilt, and the song and music dies.

“So tonight the committee are proud to honour a great champion of the Tommy Makem Festival, and a great life long champion of Irish song, music and dance”.

The “Scroll of Honour” was also presented to the family of the late Jim Gorman, the celebrated Newry ballad singer, to Roisin White the well known Kilkeel born Irish traditional singer, to Dr John Moulden the Irish song authority from Belfast, and to the family of the late Marty Marrinan from Co Clare.