Singing legends, The Priests, Fr Eugene O'Hagan, Fr Martin O'Hagan and Fr David Delargy paid a flying visit to London recently to talk about their long-awaited new album ‘Noël’ which is being released today. The CD features one track: Peace on Earth/Little Drummer Boy with Pogues frontman Shane MacGowan.
Speaking about the collaboration, Fr Martin said: “ we are absolutely delighted to be asked to sing with Shane. Although from different stables as it were, the result is a wonderful marriage of two different styles coming together. Shane brought a wonderful sense of enthusiasm. He sings from the heart and that comes across really well. “And the sentiment in the song of course, is beautiful.”
Fr Eugene O'Hagan and his brother Fr Martin are originally from the village of Claudy, County Londonderry, while Fr David Delargy is from Ballymena, County Antrim. They have singing together since they boarded as students at St MacNissi's College, in County Antrim.
They all have happy memories of Christmas, although Fr David’s earliest one is a little fraught. “When I was about two, ” he said, “ we were decorating the tree. It looked so beautiful with lights and baubles. I put one of the wee glass baubles in my mouth and crunched. My mother saw the blood in my mouth and I was rushed to hospital.”
He said: “At Christmas we used to leave mince pies and a glass of the hard stuff for Santa Claus. We’d get up 6 in the morning and find stocking at the end of the beds. which kept us quiet for an hour. Then we’d come down & find presents under tree.
Brothers Fr Martin and Fr Eugene grew up in the countryside in Claudy. ‘There was no central heating,” Fr Martin said. “We had open fires, there was a tree glistening on the landing. It smelt beautiful. I remember tiptoeing downstairs and finding a Rocket Man. Later making a snowman in the garden – fantastic. ”
“Our parent used to give Christmas Box to the bread man, the postman, the bin man - a little treat for all the tradesmen that called on the house.”
“When we were older we became altar boys. There was always a great sense of preparation throughout Advent.”
Although they are now international singing stars, the three priests always put their parishes first. “They have to be our priority – that’s our vocation and calling” said Fr David. And Christmas is one of the busiest times of year for them.
Fr Martin is Parish Priest of the Parish of Newtownards and Comber with two churches and more than 2,000 parishioners. The parish has several choirs, a special children’s liturgy and group learning Makaton sign language. “There’s great sense of excitement” Fr Martin said. The parish is also preparing for the 100th anniversary of St Finians Primary School. The event will be marked with a concert and a tree planting ceremony in the school copse and garden.
Fr David is Parish Priest of the Parish of Hannahstown in West Belfast with two churches and more than 3,500 parishioners. “It’s a very active and strong community, and we are make great preparations now for Christmas” he said. Fr Eugene runs a smaller parish that covers the largest area in the diocese as well as having an administrative post. “There is a great community spirit. My congregation all sing together. There is a great sense of anticipation.”
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