WHEN the music stars come to West Cork, they make a beeline for the Day Centre, Ionad Lae in Ballyvourney.
From Daniel O’Donnell to Margo and The High Kings, this go-ahead centre for local elderly has seen them all perform.
And it’s all down to the perseverance and dogged determination of both residents and the team – none of whom appear shy when it comes to sending out invitations to the big names.
‘If I know they are coming to this region for a concert, we write letters and make phone calls to their people to try and persuade them to come and visit us. We even send maps of where we are to their managers,’ explained Elle O’Sullivan, the activities and fundraising manager of Ionad Lae.
‘So far we’ve been very lucky with our attempts to get various singers to visit us and the only one that seems to be eluding us is Nathan Carter. But we’ve already sent posters to him and we got specially designed mugs sent to him, which are made for us by Pharmacy First Plus in Glanmire who have been very good to us.’
It’s never just a quick visit, either, with Daniel O’Donnell, and more recently Derek Ryan, spending several hours there singing and chatting with everyone.
‘Daniel O’Donnell was fantastic when he came to visit us two years ago, and he told stories and sang songs. He shook hands with every single person and posed for pictures too. His sister Margo had called a few weeks before but Daniel didn’t even know she had been to see us. Margo was great and she spent nearly two hours singing and chatting with us.’
Rising country music star Derek Ryan was the most recent visitor to the centre, having played the INEC in Killarney the previous night.
‘Despite the horrendous weather conditions he came and sang and entertained the crowd here. He stood in for pictures and signed CDs for his fans. He actually played for over an hour and had people dancing in the aisles,’ recalled Elle.
Derek was presented with a special designed wooden guitar from the day centre, which was crafted by Tony Brunnock from Coolea. Local musicians John and Marie Corteen also played and with a cake sale and raffle, the team managed to raise almost €1,000 with the proceeds going to the activity fund at the day centre.
As for Nathan Carter, Elle and her persistent team will continue to invite him down to Ballyvourney and – who knows? – they may eventually get the popular country singer to pop in and say hello.
What’s more, he’s due to play in Killarney in a week’s time, so fingers are crossed.