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Irish music for a cause this Saturday in Merrimack

Friday, March 14, 2014

By JANINE LEFFLER

Special to the Journal

Looking for something fun and entertaining to do for St. Patrick’s Day? You won’t want to miss the annual Irish Music Show fundraiser for the Nancy O Foundation.

The Irish music show features many local performers Sylvia Eggleton, Ashlynn Rockwell, Priscilla Hamilton, William Cashman, Veto Narkunas, Pat Keane, Pat Heffernan, Pete Sessions, Frank Woodward and dancers from the McGonagall School of Irish Dance.

The McGonagall School of Irish Dance has been involved in the Irish music show since 2004.

Ashlyn Rockwell said in a recent interview, “This production is unique because many of the performers know each other, either through other performances or acquaintances. The show has a family feel to it. … We look forward to working with the other performers the most every year, as many of us have ties to Irish music, dance or background.”

Sessions and Cashman have been involved in the Irish music show since 2007.

“My thrill is seeing how the young performers mature and develop over the years, this year the dancers and accordionists, and in past years, the fiddlers,” Sessions said. “John O’s shows are the big items in my performing schedule nowadays, so they are a special treat for me.”

This will be Hamilton’s second time performing in the Irish music show. She last performed in 2011.

“My performances have nearly always been in the context of classical music, and I’m happy to have the opportunity to play such a different style of fun music,” she said. “I also look forward to enjoying the performances of the other the Irish Music Show participants.”

This family event will be at 7:30 p.m. Saturday, March 15, traditional Irish dinner being served at 7 p.m. at St. John Neumann Hall located on Route 101A, or 708 Milford Road, Merrimack.

The mission of the Nancy O Fund, which is part of the New Hampshire Charitable Foundation, is to enrich the lives of children, especially the disadvantaged, by giving them the chance to experience wonder and joy in music, theater, and dance in the performing arts.

The fund encourages and promotes community outreach programs to bring these performing arts experiences to these children. It encourages schools to create student outreach service projects and programs to work with these children and become valuable role models for them.

In recent years, the NOF has given grants to the theater programs of the Boys & Girls Club of Souhegan Valley, the Riverbend Youth Company and the Riverbend School of Theater Arts. In addition, the NOF grants Nancy O award scholarships annually to recognize graduating seniors at Souhegan High School in Amherst who have demonstrated a personal commitment to the performing arts and working with younger children.

Nancy Ogrodowczyk was a French teacher at Souhegan High School and was a big part of the drama department, choreographing and teaching dance routines for the musicals productions. But above all, Ogrodowczyk was a much-loved teacher who gave her wonderful gifts to the community, and especially to young people.

The NOF has recently supported performing arts activities at Camp Spinnaker, an asthma camp, sponsored by Zebra Crossings, a nonprofit organization dedicated to serving children with chronic illness. Interestingly, one of the Board of Director members of Zebra Crossings, and a co-founder of the Asthma Camps, was a French student of Ogrodowczyk at the time she died of asthma in April 1994.

Over the years, the Nancy O Fund has given grants of more than $25,000 to kids performing arts programs of many organizations. To find out more about the origin and mission of the Nancy O Fund, visit www.johnosings.com and click on “Nancy O Fund.”

Tickets can be purchased by calling Bill Emerson at 672-7021, Scot Veilleux at 321-7977, or the Parish Office at 880-4689. Prices are $25 adults, $20 seniors, $15 for juniors 12-17, and free for those 12 and younger.

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