Barbershop at Clontarf Castle

Since the year 1172, a castle has stood in Clontarf, just north-east of the Dublin city.

The current castle building dates to 1837 and has been welcoming visitors as a hotel since 1997. On Saturday 2 November 2019, a brilliant musical event took place there to raise money for St. Francis Hospice. Interestingly, the castle has a surprising - but amazing - musical connection.

Georg Frideric Handel was a frequent visitor to Clontarf Castle during his stay in Dublin for the premiere of his infamous Messiah in 1742. The lady of the house at that time was called Dorothy Vernon. She was from Hanover in Germany and became "particularly intimate" with the baroque composer.

Apparently, Handel composed a piece called Forest Music especially for Dorothy Vernon, said to combine German and Irish melodies. The neighbouring area of Dollymount - whose strand is globally renowned for its links to the stories of James Joyce - is traditionally said to be named after Dorothy Vernon.

Returning to Clontarf in 2019, music is still a big part of the life of the castle. On Saturday night, this extraordinary venue hosted a performance by Lady Barbalade, featuring Becky Gilbert from the IIMS team.

Lady Barbalade is a prize-winning barbershop quartet from north County Dublin, most recently becoming national silver medallists at IABS in October 2019 (IABS = Irish Association of Barbershop Singers). Its members are Becky Gilbert (lead), Hilary Harnett (baritone), Clare Hayes-Brady (tenor) & Ailbhe Hayes (bass).

This concert raised funds for St Francis Hospice, a specialist palliative care service for the people of North Dublin City and county. It is a voluntary organisation under the care of the Daughters of Charity of St. Vincent de Paul.

The event was brilliantly well attended with 400 tickets sold. Lady Barbalade performed a dynamic and energetic 20-minute set with lots of laughs and a very impressed audience!


©2019 Irish Institute of Music and Song.