TITLE 15 - Newsletter


The corona virus ‘Covid 19’ has inevitably brought about a major and ongoing hiatus in the life of the Percy French Society. The centenary of the death of Percy French occurred on 24th January, 2020 and numerous commemorative events had been planned to take place throughout the year. Many of those events, including the Centenary Charity Concert with Phil Coulter, had of necessity, to be cancelled,

However a special Commemorative Lunch at the Royal Belfast Golf Club took place on the actual anniversary date – 24th January when approximately one hundred members and guests enjoyed an excellent meal followed by performances of some of French’s well loved songs. poems and recitations

For most of that week the one man show ‘Melodies of Unforgotten Years’, written by the late Sam McCready and performed by Karl O’Neill, attracted full houses at the Lyric Theatre, Belfast.

At Foyle College, Londonderry, their annual Spring Concert included ‘A Tribute to Percy French’. He was, of course, one of their distinguished former pupils

On Friday, 6th March a splendid memorial sculpture and garden was unveiled by Hastings Hotels in the grounds of the Slieve Donard Hotel in the shadow of the Mourne Mountains at Newcastle. Co. Down. The main installation by Tandem Design incorporates the lyrics of the famous song ‘The Mountains of Mourne’ in three metal panels interwoven as sheets of music.

The exhibition ‘The Life and Times of Percy French’, designed by the North Down Museum, could not take place, nor could it be taken to King House, Boyle, Co, Roscommon as planned for a later date. However the Museum created a virtual version on the Ards & North Down Borough Council website – link https://andculture.org.uk/whats-on/percy-french-exhibition

Plans for the biographical book , ‘Tones That Are Tender – Percy French 1854 -1920’ written by Berrie O’Neill for the Percy French Society, to be reissued in paperback were also victims of the pandemic.

County Roscommon.

A weekend celebration planned for Roscommon in May was postponed to a later date but the Percy French Festival at Castlecoote went ahead successfully (outdoors) in July.

In the Dublin Festival of History, harpist Teresa O’Donnell performed online, ‘William Percy French – His Life and Songs’ The Strokestown Poetry Festival included a special ‘Percy French Prize for Witty Verse’ won by Celine Naughton

County Cavan. On 29th February, the County Cavan Museum at Ballyjamesduff launched an exhibition about the life of Percy French ‘The Grass it is Green’ with a musical presentation by Eileen and Pat McCourt.



 Following the publication of his book ‘Tones That Are Tender – Percy French 1854-1920’ Berrie O’Neill has given illustrated talks on ‘The Life and Times of Percy French’ to a number of heritage societies, historical societies and libraries. These include past meetings in Portrush, Saintfield, Wexford, Portadown and Rathfriland.

In 2018 there were further meetings at Cavan Library. Kilkeel Heritage and Crawfordsburn Probus. In the meantime plans are afoot to publish a second paperback edition of ‘Tones That Are Tender’ in connection with the Centenary of Percy French’s death which occurred in 1920.

Click here to buy a copy

Centenary Charity Concert

The Society has arranged a major Centenary Charity Concert featuring Phil Coulter for Friday 20th March, 2020 at Elim Conference Centre, Bangor, surplus to benefit the RNLI. Compered by Brian Johnston, he supporting artists will include Donaghadee Male Voice Choir, Lindsay Chorale, Wilson Graham, Jonathan Johnston and Iryna Johnston.
Further information and tickets (£25) from Ronnie Maxwell (tel.028 91852252 or email ronnie.maxwell@btinternet.com)

Information and news about the activities of The Percy French Society will be displayed here soon. Some noteworthy articles and the society’s newsletter editorial will also appear here.


The Killypottle Komics’ were a group of Christy-style minstrels formed by Percy French and his friends when he was employed as an engineer in Cavan.



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