Geneva Literary Aid Society

The Voice Squad and John Spillane conquer Geneva

What a night we had. John Spillane had the audience in the palm of his hand as he brought us on a guided tour of Cork, Ireland and the universe. He sang all his hits, including catchy numbers like John, Don’t Go To Ballincollig and a new song about the busking festival in Clonmel and his love for a fellow busker, Molly Bawn of the County Tipperary with lipstick on her gob. I will eat Fran McPhail’s hat (see photos) if Christy Moore does not record it.

At the interval, after Spillane’s tour de force, Phil Callery kept saying, “Jaysus how do you follow that?”

Well follow it they did. The Voice Squad – Fran McPhail, Gerry Cullen and Phil Callery – put on an astonishing display of musical harmony. A visitor from New Zealand posted the following comment which just about sums up how the men in black approach their craft: “Thank you it was marvellous. I have never heard such harmony before. They stood about as if they were waiting for a bus ,and produced such a magnificent sound the like of which I have never heard before.”

More was to come when we arrived in Charlie O’Neills to a warm welcome from Donal, Pauric McKenna and the staff. The porter flowed with the song. Fran sang a wonderful version of Old Flames Can’t Hold a Candle To You and the Voicers rocked the place with a spine tingling version of Buddy Holly’s classic Rave On “…. rave on it’s a crazy feeling and I know it’s got me reeling when you say you love me..” John Spillane broke out the guitar and only the prospect of an 11 a.m. flight back to Dublin brought the evening to a close. Not before, of course, Paul Conneally belted out the Rocks of Bawn.

It was a great evening in aid of a great cause, the Edith Wilkins Foundation for Street Children in Darjeeling which will receive CHF6,000 for their work rescuing kids from abuse and exploitation in a notorious hub of child trafficking. We love Edith and the extraordinary lengths she and her staff and volunteers go to with so little support, to bring dignity, grace and love into the lives of hundreds of children by feeding them, clothing them, sheltering them and sending them to school. This means that GLAS supporters have raised over Euros 80,000 for the Foundation since 2012.

The GLAS volunteers were brilliant as usual last night. Many thanks especially to Chris Black who did an amazing job setting up the elaborate sound system for the evening. Claire Geraty and hubby Thierry who managed the box office, merchandise sales etc with the usual professionalism, Pete Bannigan marshalled the bar staff, his wife Deirdre baked the bread. Pierre-Andre Chapatte Cynthia Faye Thewlis ChapatteKirsten, Andrea, Alan, Sophie Barton-Knott ran the bar. The GLAS raffle team led by Tara and Enya set a new record for ticket sales. The GLAS raffle sponsored by spud o’neill aka Donal O’Neill featured The Gilded Chalet by Padraig Rooney, the best book on Switzerland I have ever read, hugely entertaining and insightful into the lives of the great writers who passed through these parts, and the land and people which gave them shelter. Padraig who starred at an earlier GLAS poetry evening was on hand to sign copies of the book. Our thanks also to a secret Santa who provided generous sponsorship for the evening but wishes to remain anonymous. Jim Anderson of Jim’s British Mini Market in St. Genis donated a Christmas turkey to the raffle and the bird was won by long-time GLAS supporter Kathleen Currit.
That’s it from GLAS for this year. Happy Christmas and see you in the new year.


P.S. There’s another review of the night here from Eoghan O’Sullivan.