Belfast Telegraph

Woman behind Derry Feis, Rose O'Doherty, to be remembered with Blue Plaque

By Donna Deeney

A woman who established the Derry Feis - which has helped to launch the careers of some of the city's best known talents - is to be honoured with a Blue Plaque.

Rose O'Doherty's life will be commemorated by the Ulster History Circle on Friday morning, days before this year's event.

Started by Mrs O'Doherty in 1922, Feis Doire Colmcille was the launchpad for famous Derry alumni such as Roma Downey, Phil Coulter and Undertones front man Feargal Sharkey.

Mrs O'Doherty, who died in 1969, will have a Blue Plaque unveiled at her former home at Francis Street by her grandson Cathal McCabe, the retired head of Music at RTE.

Chris Spurr, chairman of the Ulster History Circle, said her contribution to the music of the city and its Irish culture is immeasurable.

He added: "It would be impossible to say the vast impact that the formation of the Feis Doire Colmcille had on future generations.

"Thousands of young people and adults have travelled through its doors and some have become household names throughout the world, to name but a few, Dana, Phil Coulter, Roma Downey, the Undertones, and James MacCafferty."

Mrs O'Doherty was born Rose McCormick, the third child and first daughter of merchant William Henry McCormick and his second wife, Mary Jane McLaughlin.

From an early age she was interested in music, mainly because of her mother Mary Jane who had learned to play the piano in Cabra College.

Along with her sister Sara, Rose was sent to Boscombe College in Bournemouth for a musical education, where they both became excellent pianists.

While Sara went on to Germany, where she worked as a governess, Rose returned to her native Londonderry in 1890 where she later married the wealthy merchant, Edward Henry O'Doherty.

From their home in Upper Magazine Street, Mrs O'Doherty coached singers and pianists which was frowned upon in the Edwardian era when it was deemed that ladies of a certain class did not work nor give music lessons.

Following the partition of Ireland in 1921, Mrs O'Doherty, along with Fr John Logue McGettigan, decided to form a Feis in Derry so that the Gaelic culture would not be lost.

Every Easter at the Feis Doire Colmcille, Rose could be found at the piano for recitals, plays and concerts.

Mrs O'Doherty remained involved in her love of music and the Feis Doire Colmcille until she died in 1969.

Belfast Telegraph


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