Celtic band to perform

August 16, 2017

Members of Celtic band Saoirse - Damien Neil, Sile Coleman, Kerry McManus (back) and Bernadette and Anthony O'Neill (front).

Internationally renowned Celtic music and dance group Saoirse’s performance in Nathalia next month is the result of a chance meeting four years ago at the Port Fairy Folk Festival.

G.R.A.I.N. Store Nathalia’s Ken Wong said it was in 2013 when the chain of events that led to the band’s Grain Store performance began.

He said Shepparton musician Damien Neil was preparing to perform at Port Fairy when he met Sile Coleman — his Irish bride-to-be and member of the Celtic group, Saoirse.

‘‘Damien joined the band and the couple have since married and settled in the local region, welcoming their first child, baby daughter Caoimhe earlier this year.’’

Mr Wong said the G.R.A.I.N. Store became involved when Damien was the musician accompanying Australian singer song-writer Neil Murray at his concert there last year.

‘‘I remember being intrigued because I saw on the poster that Damien was from Shepparton,’’ Mr Wong said.

‘‘I was so impressed with his musicianship and performance that when I found out they were both part of the Celtic group Saoirse, I immediately began discussing with them a plan to bring the band to Nathalia.’’

The five-piece group Saoirse (pronounced See-ur-Sha — the Gaelic word for freedom) completed its first European tour last year with 24 shows in Ireland and France.

The band’s other three members, who reside in Melbourne, are high-profile members of the Australian Celtic music scene, according to Mr Wong.

Anthony O’Neill, Kerry McManus and Bernadette O’Neill complete the band, which is due to record its fourth album this year.

The performance forms the centrepiece of The G.R.A.I.N. Store’s spring performance program, which Mr Wong said had recently received funding support from Creative Victoria’s Small Regional Presenters Program.

‘‘We are all very excited and I urge people to get in early to secure their seats,’’ he said.

Guests will also get the chance to participate in a Gaelic language singing workshop with the band prior to their performance.

Saoirse will perform at the St Mary’s of the Angels Secondary College Auditorium in Nathalia on Sunday, September 10, with the workshop beginning at 1.30pm, followed by the concert at 3pm.

■For tickets and more information, visit or phone 0403756571.

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