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Warm response to John McCormack Exhibition at Athlone Castle

published on: Nov 18, 2014

Pat Keating%2C District Manager%2C Westmeath County Council  with including McCormack’s grandson%2C also John Count Mc Cormack at launch of John McCormack Exhibition at Athlone Castle

Recently, as part of Westmeath County Council's commemoration of Ireland’s world-renowned tenor, John Count McCormack, a new exhibition dedicated to the celebrated singer was opened at Athlone Castle.
Visitor numbers and interest in the exhibition has been strong, with visitors to date including McCormack’s grandson, also John Count Mc Cormack and up to forty members of the McCormack society from Dublin, who travelled to Athlone to attend its opening.

John Count McCormack, who was born in Athlone in 1884, became the most celebrated tenor of his era, singing to packed concert halls across Ireland, Europe and the United States. By the age of 21 McCormack was in Milan studying under the great maestro Vincenzo Sabatini. In 1907, at the age of twenty-three he became the youngest ever tenor to sing a major role at Covent Garden, when he appeared in Cavalleriarusticana. His career was also a huge financial success; at the height of his career he was reputed to be earning £200,000 per annum. In 1928 he was given the honour of being made a Count of the Papal Court for his contribution to charitable causes.

Commenting on the warm reception to the exhibition Pat Keating, District Manager, Westmeath County Council said, “John Count McCormack was a wonderfully talented and celebrated tenor and we are delighted to share the important memorabilia of his life and career with the public at the new exhibition in Athlone Castle, dedicated to the life and career of our most famous tenor.”


On his recent visit, the tenor’s grandson, also John Count McCormack, said, "I’m delighted that people can learn more about his life and career through the new exhibition in Athlone Castle.”

“John Count McCormack was a wonderfully talented and celebrated tenor and we are delighted to share the important memorabilia of his life and career with the public at the new exhibition in Athlone Castle”

The  exhibition includes memorabilia very kindly loaned by the McCormack Society including John McCormack's Papal chain, presented to him in 1928, a silk programme for the Gala Performance in the Royal Opera at Covent Garden 27th May 1908 when John McCormack performed in Bizet's 'I Pescatori di Perle' to honour the President of the French Republic, Armand Fallieres, some personal items including a silver cigarette case which was a Christmas present from his brother Jim given to him in 1919 and a gilt jewellery box which was a gift from Mary and Alicia Scott, sisters of Sir John Murray Scott, McCormack's mentor who was instrumental in getting him onto the stage in Covent Garden.


Athlone Castle opening times in November are Wednesday to Saturday 11am to 5pm and Sunday from 12pm to 5pm. Last admission is at 4pm. Admission: adults €8, students and seniors €6, children under 15 €4, family (2 adults and up to four children) €20. Check www.athlonecastle.ie for seasonal changes to opening hours.


Additionally, free copies of a John Count McCormack walk showing 12 sites in the town centre associated with John Count McCormack are available from the Athlone Castle and the Athlone Library.

Athlone commemorates world renowned tenor John Count McCormack (1884 – 1945) with new sculpture, exhibition and renamed civic square

published on: Oct 24, 2014

Athlone commemorates world renowned tenor John Count McCormack (1884 – 1945) with new sculpture%2C exhibition and renamed civic square
Pictured is: Historian Gearoid O'Brien; Pat Keating, District Manager Westmeath County Council; John McCormack, grandson and namesake of Ireland’s most famous tenor; Mayor of Athlone, Frankie Keena and Pat Gallagher, Westmeath County Council, CEO.

Monday 27th October 2014 - Westmeath County Council has commemorated Ireland’s world-renowned tenor, John Count McCormack by unveiling a new public art sculpture, renaming a civic square in the town in his honour and opening a new exhibition dedicated to the celebrated singer in Athlone Castle.

John Count McCormack, who was born in Athlone in 1884, become the most celebrated tenor of his era, singing to packed concert halls across Ireland, Europe and the United States. By the age of 21 McCormack was in Milan studying under the great maestro Vincenzo Sabatini. In 1907, at the age of twenty-three he became the youngest ever tenor to sing a major role at Covent Garden, when he appeared in Cavalleria rusticana. His career was also a huge financial success; at the height of his career he was reputed to be earning £200,000 per annum. In 1928 he was given the honour of being made a Count of the Papal Court for his contribution to charitable causes.

Athlone commemorates world renowned tenor John Count McCormack (1884 – 1945) with new sculpture%2C exhibition and renamed civic square
Pictured are: Pat Keating, District Manager, Westmeath County Council; Mayor of Athlone, Frankie Keena and John McCormack, grandson and namesake of Ireland’s most famous tenor, John Count McCormack.

Pat Keating, District Manager, Westmeath County Council said, “John Count McCormack was a wonderfully talented and celebrated tenor and we are delighted to commemorate his exceptional achievements by unveiling this new sculpture and renaming the enhanced civic square in his honour. We have also opened a new exhibition in Athlone Castle, dedicated to the life and career of our most famous tenor.”

The tenor’s grandson, also named John Count McCormack, said, “It is wonderful to have my grandfather’s achievements celebrated publicly in his home town by this sculpture and square. I’m also delighted that people can learn more about his life and career through the new exhibition in Athlone Castle.”

Historian Gearoid O’Brien said, “It is very heartening to see the local authority spear-heading a movement to highlight the life and times of John McCormack. Already we have a fine bronze bust by Seamus Murphy of a young John McCormack on the Promenade. The renaming of the square and the commissioning of a new sculpture by Rory Breslin is a very significant way of honouring the memory of the most famous Athlonian of all times. The present generation deserve to know exactly who McCormack was and to be encouraged to appreciate his many fine recordings.”

Athlone commemorates world renowned tenor John Count McCormack (1884 – 1945) with new sculpture%2C exhibition and renamed civic square
Pictured are: John McCormack, grandson and namesake of Ireland’s most famous tenor, John Count McCormack with a new sculpture of his grandfather created by artist Rory Breslin (also pictured) that was unveiled in Athlone, Co. Westmeath, the singer’s hometown. Westmeath County Council has unveiled the new sculpture, renamed a civic square in the town in his honour and opened a new exhibition dedicated to the celebrated singer in Athlone Castle.

The new sculpture has been designed and created by Irish artist Rory Breslin who has executed a large body of public commissions. Award winning young tenor Peter O’Reilly sang at the event. Peter has won awards at the ESB Feis Ceoil for the past two years, including the John Count McCormack Cup, the J.J Watt Trophy for Tenor Solo, and most recently, the Dermot Troy Trophy for oratorio performance.

In 1984 An Post and the US Postal Service jointly commemorated, in Boston and Athlone, the centenary of McCormack’s birth with a specially commissioned John Count McCormack stamp.

On the 29 January 2014 the Central Bank of Ireland launched a ten euro limited edition Silver Proof collector coin to celebrate the Irish tenor.

John Count Mc Cormack, grandson of Count John McCormack
Pictured is: John McCormack, grandson and namesake of Ireland’s most famous tenor, John Count McCormack speaking at the ceremony where a new sculpture of the famous singer was unveiled.

The new exhibition in Athlone Castle includes memorabilia very kindly loaned by the McCormack Society:
• John McCormack's Papal chain, presented to him in 1928
• A silk programme for the Gala Performance in the Royal Opera at Covent Garden 27th May 1908. John McCormack performed in Bizet's 'I Pescatori di Perle' to honour the President of the French Republic, Armand Fallieres.
• Some personal items including a silver cigarette case which was a Christmas present from his brother Jim given to him in 1919.
• A gilt jewellery box which was a gift from Mary and Alicia Scott, sisters of Sir John Murray Scott, McCormack's mentor who was instrumental in getting him onto the stage in Covent Garden.