Dublin revisited

A guest post by Samir Savant

Dublin has to be one of my favourite cities in the world – the legendary craic, amazing culture, friendly people, and most of all such happy and indelible memories of my many visits there. It is firmly anchored in the history of my twenty plus years of singing with Pegasus and fixing the choir.

There have been three previous Pegasus Dublin trips, in 1998, 1999 and in 2003, the latter with Matthew conducting. Each time we sang as visiting choir at Christ Church Cathedral, stayed at Kinlay House youth hostel and drank at the Lord Edward pub – this became a kind of Bermuda triangle from which we mostly never strayed.

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Back then e-mails were new-fangled and organising choir events was all done by phone and paper forms, so there is not much documentation to act as a reminder. But there are thankfully treasured memories of the music sung and plenty of photos of friendships forged. We were definitely ‘young and fresh-voiced’ back then, in our 20s and 30s in a city with one of Europe’s youngest populations. I remember the exuberant double choir Magnificat by Irishman Charles Villiers Stanford, and the expressive Rheinberger Cantus Missae, again for double choir, and there is even photographic evidence of my cartwheels on the green outside the Cathedral, something not to be repeated in my 50s!

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So the Dublin trips quickly became the stuff of Pegasus legend, a bit like Winchelsea has become since, but Dublin was responsible for much more. Having started out as an ‘ad hoc’ group in the mid-1990s, the success of the second trip inspired me to establish Pegasus on a more stable footing, with a regular calendar of concerts in London, a choir committee, and a permanent conductor. Even our name changed – in 2003 we came to Dublin as The Pegasus Choir, but left as simply Pegasus, a rebrand affected by my friend Andrew McLellan, then precentor at the Cathedral, who came up with the new name.

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How wonderful that 20 years after our last visit we are going again, and singing alongside the Mornington Singers who are based there. Most of the choir has of course changed in that time, although there will still be a handful of singers who will have memories of the previous trips. There will be many scurrilous stories to be shared over a pint or two of the black nectar, including of our visit out to Dalkey to try and find Bono’s house, which we never managed to do (but had a jolly good lunch instead), or the bus-tour of the Dublin squares and their beautiful Georgian doors and an eccentric guide who gave us a rather quirky rendition of ‘Molly Malone’.

I will certainly relish visiting old haunts – the Lord Edward will no doubt still be there serving Guinness and toasties, but the Front Lounge, Ireland’s first ‘metrosexual’ bar, is long gone; Fishamble Street near Christ Church where Handel’s Messiah was first performed; and a private pilgrimage to the National Gallery of Ireland to see Caravaggio’s Taking of Christ, one of my very favourite paintings. Most of all I look forward to making new memories with new friends.

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