Road is alive to the beat of the RAMS men’s choir

By Aideen O'Flaherty

A ROAD in Newcastle was alive with the the sound of music recently, as a retired men’s choir sang stirring renditions of country and western songs in their front gardens to the delight of their neighbours.

Residents of Aylmer Road have been treated to the singing of five members of the Rathcoole-based Retired Active Men’s Social (RAMS) in Rhythm choir every second Saturday since lockdown began.

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Members of the Newcastle ladies group line dance to Rams (Photos by Damien Eagers Photography)

Five members of the choir, which ordinarily has a total membership of 16, all live on Aylmer Road and their performances give them a break from cocooning and also garners claps and cheers of appreciation from their neighbours.

Matt Dowling, 75, from RAMS in Rhythm told The Echo: “We live on the same road, so we decided to go out into our front gardens and sing.

“Our musical director, Liam O’Donnell, brings the music and then we have mics and we sing into them.

“We have two-metre yard sticks to make sure we all keep our distance. A lot of our neighbours come outside for it, but some people stay inside their houses and clap from their windows.”

A local ladies’ club has become a recent addition to the uplifting performances, where they line dance and use lengths of rope to ensure they’re adhering to distancing rules, to the music of RAMS of Rhythm, whose repertoire includes the ever-popular ‘Wagon Wheel’ and some Don Williams classics.

“It gives us a bit of practice and a bit of unity,” explained Matt. “It helps us to get out and about and be slightly mobile, and not spend all day sitting on the couch.

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Rhythm members, Michael Maher, Ciaran Dowling and Martin Heffernan (Photos by Damien Eagers Photography)

“This way, we’re keeping ourselves busy and we’re enjoying the singing – all of our wives are very encouraging of it too.”

Before the pandemic, the choir regularly performed in Tallaght University Hospital, Peamount Hospital and local nursing homes, and with all of the uncertainty at the minute they’re not sure when they’ll be able to do that again – but in the meantime, the residents of Aylmer Road are an enthusiastic audience.

The men in the choir are planning to perform for one of their fellow members who lives in Celbridge this weekend, as his home is within the new 5km distance that people can travel from their homes, and they’re hoping to raise money for Pieta House through their performance.

Donations to Pieta House are accepted online at Darkness into Light

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