Blue plaque honour for founder of Londonderry Gaelic music festival

Rose O'Doherty pictured in April 1965
Rose O'Doherty pictured in April 1965

The grandson of a founder of an annual Gaelic music celebration in Londonderry will unveil a blue plaque in her honour at her former home in the city later this week.

Cathal McCabe, retired head of music at RTE, will join the Ulster History Circle at the unveiling at 29 Francis Street, which was the home of his grandmother, music teacher Rose O’Doherty, who founded the Feis Doire Colmcille in 1922.

The unveiling will take place on Friday at 11.30am.

Rose O’Doherty (nee McCormick), who was born in Ferryquay Street, in 1879, the daughter of merchant, William Henry McCormick and his second wife, Mary Jane McLaughlin, was a very musical child.

In 1904 she married Londonderry merchant, Edward Henry O’Doherty and went to live in Upper Magazine Street where, in the drawing room of the house, she coached singers and pianists.

Following partition in May 1921, Rose O’Doherty and the Very Rev Father McGettigan decided to form a feis so that the Gaelic culture would not be lost.

In 1922, the first Feis Doire Colmcille opened. She continued her musical involvement in teaching and was resident organist at St Patrick’s Church in Pennyburn.

Every Easter at the Feis Doire Colmcille, Rose (wearing a new hat) accompanied the feis participants on piano, and on numerous occasions she could always be found at the piano for recitals, plays and concerts. She remained involved in the feis until she died in 1969.

Chris Spurr, chairman of the Ulster History Circle, said: “Mrs E H O’Doherty made her own unique mark on the musical history of the city when she helped found Feis Doire Colmcille nearly 100 years ago.”