Breaffy National School is renowned for its music. All the children are exposed to a rich and diverse range of music that serves them well for their entire lives: musicals, Irish dance, Irish music, ecclesiastical choirs, national children’s choirs, the marching band, the ceili band all serve to make our children’s musical experience truly worthwhile. It’s over 20 years ago since the Christmas Concert tradition began. Every second year all the children in the school partake in the most magical shows. Some of the latest titles include Breaffy’s X factor, The Story of the Nativity, The Gingerbread Man, The Pied Piper of Breaffy etc.
On the year that the Christmas concerts are not taking place the children in fourth class take part in the amazing and very moving National Children’s Choir. The sophisticated repertoire that the children have to learn for this means that they have a life-skill and have the competencies and confidence to join choirs for the rest of their lives. They become au fait with choral singing: they master harmonies and soprano and alto parts are sung with ease. Some of the children go on to sing in the National Concert Hall.
As well as our very enjoyable Christmas Concerts Breaffy School has a very competent marching band. Fourth, fifth and sixth classes represent our school with pride at the annual St. Patrick’s Day Parade in Castlebar. This band plays a set of marches that are associated with our national day.
Breaffy School enjoys an outstanding reputation for its Church choirs. Communions, Confirmations and other Church festivals are enhanced by our excellent choirs and musical groups. All children in Breaffy School learn to play the tin-whistle. The traditional tin-whistle entices large numbers of children to take up Irish music: banjos, mandolins, fiddles, harps, bodhráin and accordions are played with great competency. Indeed there are over 250 children in the Breaffy Ceili Band! The highlight of the traditional Irish music calendar is the annual Seachtain na GaeilgeCeili. Fourth, fifth and sixth class children are all taught our Irish dances such as Ionsaí na h-Inse, Ballaí Luimní, An Staicín Eorna to name but a few. The Ceili Band plays for the dancers and the entire school community celebrates our national festival with great gusto! Each Thursday after school, the children can choose to attend Irish dance classes where they learn the intricate steps associated with Irish figure dancing for a nominal fee. The emphasis is on participation, enjoyment, poise, correct posture and other dance elements such as tempo and rhythm.
St. John’s Breaffy has been hugely successful in musical competitions. The culmination of this was partaking in the Walton’s Music for Schools Competition in 2017. We were so proud of the 40 children who not only got to the final in the National Concert Hall but who came second in the country winning a welcome €1500 to buy the school a state-of-the-art electric piano. Over the years Breaffy has won innumerable Scór competitions including grúpaícheoil, ballad groups, dramas, dancing and individual singing.
Breaffy regularly partakes in many musical initiatives including the ukulele and the African drumming orchestras. Overall, our pupils enjoy a very enriching musical experience in Breaffy School.