The organ here in Tullamore was built by one of the world’s leading organbuilding firms, Th. Frobenius of Lyngby (Copenhagen), in 1965, for the great cathedral church of Denmark’s capital city. It is a sizeable mechanical-action instrument, consisting of 53 speaking stops, three manuals and pedals, and 3,916 pipes. By 1993 the cathedral felt it needed a much bigger organ to fill its vast pace with adequate sound, and so it was decided to dispose of the existing organ in favour of an entirely new instrument. Instead of selling the existing organ for the considerable sum it would undoubtedly have fetched, the cathedral board generously decided to donate it to an appropriate church. Tullamore’s requirements for an organ at that time and their request to me to assist them in securing an instrument, together with my recital visit to Copenhagen to play one of the last recitals on the ‘old’ cathedral organ and my subsequent discussions with the cathedral’s organist, Niels Henrik Nielsen, constituted a remarkable series of coincidences which resulted in the organ’s transference to Tullamore in the latter months of 1994.
The organ obviously needed a new case to fit the gallery dimensions of Tullamore’s fine new parish church. This was designed and built by the Frobenius firm. In the process of transfer the action, pipework, keyboards, interior leather-work and wind supply were renewed; the original 32’ pedal flute stop was retained by the cathedral in Copenhagen for incorporation into their new instrument, and so a new replica 32’ stop was made for Tullamore. These elements apart, the organ represents a uniquely intact transplant of an unusually large all-mechanical action organ. The condition of both pipework and action can only be described as well nigh perfect, and the voicing and regulation necessary to adjust to the new acoustic conditions of the Church of the Assumption in Tullamore, were carried out by a team of three superb craftsmen from the Frobenius firm. The net result is that Tullamore can now boast of having the largest mechanical action church organ in Ireland, and the sole example in the country of the Frobenius firm’s renowned skill and craftsmanship. The organ was inaugurated in a gala concert on 10 May, 1995.
Since 1999 we have had an annual series of four summer concerts centred on the church’s remarkable Danish-built organ. Sadly, for reasons only too well known to all of us, it’s not possible to have concerts with live audiences in attendance this year, the 22nd in the annual series. Instead, we are bringing you three archived programmes:
Tuesday, 14 July, we will stream the film Brian McIvor made in 1994/95 for RTE television on the transference of the organ from Copenhagen to Tullamore, and this programme will also include excerpts from two of our archived concerts.
Tuesday, 21 July, we will stream a recital given in Tullamore in July 2011 by the Austrian priest-organist from Graz, Johannes Trummer.
28 July we will stream a delightful concert from the 2014 series featuring organist Thomas Charles Marshall, violinist Bogdan Sofei, and mother and daughter, Adele and Aoise O’Dwyer, ‘cello and viola respectively.
We are happy to acknowledge with gratitude and appreciation the continuing support of the Trench Trust, Offaly County Council, the Tullamore Court Hotel, Bishop Tom Deenihan, Father Gallagher and the clergy and staff of the Church of the Assumption, and the donations of Sponsors and Friends. Without such collective support this annual series of concerts would not be possible.
We acknowledge with much appreciation the assistance of Brian McIvor, Tony Monaghan and Raymond O’Donnell in bringing these three programmes to our screens.