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Tipperary Drama Festival Gets Under Way In Holycross, Thurles

Reporter: Tom Ryan.

County Tipperary Drama Festival Committee 2018
President: Very Rev. Fr. Celsius Tierney, Parish Priest of Holycross/ Ballycahill; Chairman: Tommy Lanigan; Festival Director: Donal Duggan; Treasurer: Maudie Bourke; Secretary: Clare Ryan; P.R.O: Geraldine Henchion; Sponsorship: Ger O’Dwyer; Raffle: Diana Lacey; Technical Support: Marty O’Neill and Paddy Connolly; Subcommittee Members: Peg Ryan, Elaine O’Dwyer, Derek Doherty, Jack Henchion, John Glasheen, Aisling Henchion and Gerry Kennedy.

Ms Imelda McDonagh

The 36th annual County Tipperary Open Drama Festival got under way in style at St. Michael’s Community Centre, Holycross, last Friday night, following a glitzy ‘Cheese and Wine’ reception, hosted by the Festival Committee and attended by many local dignitaries.

The festival was officially opened by International Festival Adjudicator, Ms Imelda McDonagh , who was welcomed by Mr Donal Duggan, latter Festival Director for over three decades and the amiable and informative Master of Ceremonies nightly.

Amongst those introduced to the attendance by Mr Duggan were:-  Archbishop Emeritus Dermot Clifford; Very Rev Celsius Tierney PP; Festival Committee President Mr Tommy Lanigan; an old friend to the festival and its Chairman Mr Michael Lowry, TD; County Councillors Mr Micheal Lowry and Mr Seamus Hanafin and Ms Kay Cahill, (sister of TD Mr Jackie Cahill).

As former adjudicator, Mr Larry McCluskey, pointed out that audiences are very perceptive and appreciative in Holycross and not only do Holycross host the actual annual festival, but they also compete themselves nationally, with great successfully.

There were lovely tributes in this year’s Festival Programme; to the late Eibhlis Quirke, former Secretary of the Festival Committee and to the late Dan Gallagher of Thurles. (Ar dheis De a n-anamacha). The late Dan and his wife, Breda, previously sponsored the “Gallagher Award” for “Most Promising Actor/Actress” and Breda Gallagher and her daughter Mary, were most welcome guests on the night, upholding a proud tradition for the popular Gallagher family.

The festival continues until next Saturday, March 24th, when results will be announced and prizes presented, including the “Tipperary Star Cup” for Best Play in the Confined Section, and the “Tipp FM Trophy” for Best Play in the Open Section.

Wednesday, March 21st (Open section) Noel Coward’s “Blyth Spirit”, – Thurles D.G.
Thursday, March 22nd (Confined) “Some Girls”, Curtain Call, Dungarvan.
Friday, March 23rd (Confined) “Bold Girls”, Holycross/Ballycahill D.G.
Saturday, March 24th (Open) “Duet For Two”, Nenagh Drama Group.

Festival fever is particularly strong in the Suirside village currently, with the Holycross/Ballycahill group’s Jenny Bracken winning “Best Actress Award” in the Rush, County, Dublin, Drama Festival and Aisling Henchion nominated for “Best Sound” at the same festival.

There is a lot of buzz about “Bold Girls”.
It looks like being a very successful year for the talented Abbeysiders. There is huge excitement about the group locally and a record attendance is expected next Friday night to see them on stage in “Bold Girls”.  Early attendance is certainly most advisable and note the ever-popular Festival Club Tea Room will be in operation on a nightly basis.

“Bold Girls”, is a stirring play based around the lives of three women; Marie, Nora and Cassie, all living in war-torn Belfast. Although their men have been either killed or imprisoned for their political activities; everyday life must go on. But the appearance of a disturbing young girl, and Cassie’s revelations, suddenly threaten Marie’s carefully structured widowhood.

This impressive Holycross/Ballycahill group, directed by Claire Ryan; winners of the Confined Section in the Roscommon Drama Festival, comprise the formidable cast of:- Joanne O’Neill, Jacqui Lacey, Eleanor O’ Dwyer and Jenny Bracken, together with a top-class backup team. At time of writing they still have more festivals in which to compete, to bring them even possibly more honour.

Looking back at the Tipperary Open Drama Festival.
A number of other groups in this festival are no strangers to both the Confined and Open All-Ireland finals. Simply only the best groups take to the stage in Holycross, offering that rare opportunity to meet; not only theatre enthusiasts, but also talented Thespians from all over Ireland.

Holycross-Ballycahill Drama Group are in existence for over fifty years. The group have reached the All Ireland Confined Finals on many occasions, including, 2016, in Castleblayney with “The Thrill of Love” by Amanda Whittington and in 2013 in Rossmore Co. Cork with “The God of Carnage” by Yasmina Reza. They have won numerous acting, directing and set awards, not only on the country’s festival circuit, but also in All Ireland competitions.

“Sive” by J.B. Keane, “Run For Your Wife” by Ray Cooney, “Woman and Scarecrow” by Marina Carr and T.S. Elliot’s “Murder in the Cathedral” are among the critically acclaimed productions that the group have performed around the country. They have even brought “The Beauty Queen of Leenane”, by Martin Mc Donagh to Germany, following a special request by the American forces stationed there to perform at their base in Heidelberg.

The above group have won a string of nominations e.g. Best Actress, Best Supporting Actress, Best Director and Best Set (Andy Slattery) awards around the country. A magnificent achievement for Director, Claire Ryan and her talented cast and stage crew.

Ursuline Convent Secondary Win Glasheen Trophy in Schools Drama Festival
With a hugely impressive production, Ursuline Convent, Thurles won the coveted Glasheen Trophy in the unique Schools Drama Festival, in which Presentation Secondary School, Thurles and two groups from Doon also participated.  Sponsors were Stakelum’s Office Supplies here in Thurles, who were thanked. Mr Donal Duggan, Festival Director went on to thank the teachers for their committed involvement in and contribution to the festival and for fostering local drama and an interest in drama from an early age.

So, it remains a fact; to quote the words of Festival Adjudicator for the “Schools Drama Festival”, Mr Conor O’Connell, (to massive applause, I might add), “Drama is alive and well in Tipperary”.


Official Launch Of 2018 Thurles, St. Patrick’s Day Parade

Mr Johnny Kenehan, (Chairperson),  St. Patrick’s Day Parade Committee, Thurles, reports:-

The official launch of the 2018 St. Patrick’s Day Parade, Thurles took place in the Thurles Chamber Enterprise Centre, LIT Campus, Gortataggart, Thurles, Co. Tipperary, on Monday last, March 5th.

Photo Courtesy Sarah Kenehan.

The launch was attended by local dignitaries and sponsors, including the Municipal Area Chairperson, Cllr. Seamus Hanafin, Mr. Michael Carew (Jeweller), Mr. John Butler (President Thurles Chamber), Mr. Gary Roche (President Thurles Lions Club), Fr. James Purcell (P.P. Thurles), Cllr. Seán Ryan, Lt. Michael Black (RDF) together with Thurles St. Patrick’s Day Parade Committee and friends.

The wheels are now in motion for the 2018 Thurles St. Patrick’s Day Parade, starting from Abbey Road, Thurles at 4.00pm on Saturday March 17th, 2018.

N.B. The parade starting time has been put back one hour (to 4.00pm); changed from the information previously advertised at the request of Thurles Chamber, to allow a full day Saturday trading, thus making up for lost business as a result of last weeks Storm Emma.

A number of new entries are taking part in this year’s parade and we eagerly await their participation, e.g. Dúrlas Éile Archers and Munster Blades Fencing Club, all feels like the Game of Thrones could be coming to Thurles on St. Patrick’s Day.

We await more entries, and Entries Forms can be downloaded from the following websites;  Thurles Chamber and Thurles St. Patrick’s Day Parade or contact the Chairperson, Mr Johnny Kenehan at Mobile (087) 9964587.

A total of €1,500 in prize funding and trophies are there for the taking for the different, unusual, interesting and entertaining entries. There are a wide variety of categories; from best business entry to best overall entry. There is no special theme for this years parade, leaving scope for all entrants to deliver something special in the way of innovation and entertainment.

There will be a number of attractions, consisting of a marching band, the Thurles Silver Band, the Jim O’The Mills traditional group will also feature and play in the centre of Liberty Square, presenting once again a great treat in live traditional music. There will be a small farm animal attraction in Lower Liberty Square, and in O’Meara’s car park a selection of carnival attractions provided by 5 Star Fun Entertainment.

Thurles St. Patrick’s Day Parade Sponsors:

The Thurles St. Patrick’s Day Parade Committee would like to thank all our sponsors to date:-

Lyons Tyre & Battery, Stakelum’s Fashions, Morans Menswear, Silver Needles, Daly’s Seafood, Frank Roche & Sons Ltd., Centenary Thurles Co-Op, Jackie Cahill T.D., Dan Kennedy Funeral Director Inc., Kennedy’s County Bar, Sparrow Insurances Ltd, Orion Broadband & IT Services, Hanafins Furniture Store, Sammons Pharmacy, United Nations Veteran Association, Michaels Jewellers, Supermacs Thurles, Thurles Shopping Centre, Air Impact, Boomerang Recycling, Cleary Motors, Premier Health Clinic, Thurles Golf Club,  Tim Looby Accountants, 5 Star Fun, Bowe Travel, Nico’s Shoe Repairs, Mary Hanna’s Curtains and Blinds, Gordan’s Turkish Barbers, Martin Shanahan’s Tyres, Murphy Machinery, Eoin Dunne School of Motoring, Denis Kinane Motors, Ryans Cleaning, The Monks Bar, The Irish CountryWoman’s Association, Thurles Credit Union, Thurles Hardware, Larry Fogarty Public House, Walter Drohan’s Mace Shop, Peoples of:-  Thurles, Holycross, Ballycahill, Moyne, Drombane, Upperchurch and Borrisoleigh.


“Ragtime” Returns To Thurles Musical Society After 14 Years

Thurles Musical Society will bridge a fourteen year gap with their staging of “Ragtime” the Musical here in The Premier Hall, Thurles, from Tuesday March 20thSaturday 24th next, inclusive.

Jack Carolan, Barry Derby, Harry Keane, Linda Ryan and John Scott, main role players in the TMS’ Ragtime.

The Thurles society had the honour of staging the European Amateur première back in 2004 under the direction of Vivian Coates, and amazingly two of the main players are now returning to reprise the same roles again this time round.

While quite a number of the 2018 company were in the 2004 production as well; Michael McLoughlin is returning to play the part of Coalhouse Walker Junior, as he did fourteen years ago. Donal Taylor is also returning to play the part of Booker T Washington, again, a role he played almost a decade and a half ago – Donals wife Maria McElgunn returns to play the part of Emma Goldman, having played the part of Mother back in 2004. And, her brother David will play the part of Tateh in this years show.

Another link with the first production sees Danielle Martin play the role of Evelyn Nesbitt – she is daughter of Ricky Martin who played the part of Father– and niece of Patricia Ryan (Kenny) who played the part of Evelyn last time round.

With a sixty strong cast under the Direction of Christine Scarry, choreographer Lea Carroll and Musical Director Mary Rose McNally, who was also MD fourteen years ago; the Thurles crew have been working very hard to get this massive show off the ground.

Audiences flocked to The Premier Hall in 2004 to see this ‘new show’ and Thurles Musical Society expects more of the same, such was the success of Ragtime last time round.

Tickets, costing €20 for adults and €10 concessions, can be booked at the Booking Office in Bookworm, Liberty Square, Thurles or at 085 2868726.

There are, as always, family tickets available, together with various group discounts.


Imelda McDonagh To Adjudicate Co. Tipp. Open Drama Festival

M/s Imelda McDonagh to Adjudicate at the Co. Tipperary Open Drama Festival in Holycross, Thurles, Co. Tipperary, from March 16th to March 24th.

Author and Freelance Journalist Tom Ryan Reports:-

M/s Imelda McDonagh

Holycross/Ballycahill Drama Group, Thurles Drama Group and Nenagh Drama Group will be the Co. Tipperary representatives in the prestigious Co. Tipperary Open Drama Festival to be held in St. Michael’s Community Centre, Holycross. Competitors will bid for an array of awards, including the “Tipperary Star Cup” in the Confined Section and the “Tipp FM Trophy” in the Open Category.
The Festival Director is Mr Donal Duggan as usual and a dedicated committee have been working diligently to maintain the proud traditional status of the Abbeysiders in this great festival featuring the country’s top drama groups staging some of the world’s finest drama.

Meet Adjudicator M/s Imelda McDonagh
Adjudicator, Imelda McDonagh, is an award-winning director and actress with a first-class Honours M.A. in Theatre Studies. She is a qualified Make-Up Artist and holds a Licentiate (Speech and Drama) from The London College of Music.
Well known for her various acting roles as ‘Lady Bracknell’, in Oscar Wilde’s “The Importance of Being Earnest”; ‘Blanche’, in Tennessee William’s “A Streetcar Named Desire”; ‘Baglady’, in the rarely performed Frank McGuinness play of the same name; ‘Stephanie’, in Tom Kempinski’s “Duet for One”; ‘Gertrude’, in William Shakespeare’s “Hamlet”, and ‘Kate’, in Arthur Miller’s “All My Sons”.

She recently performed with The Dublin Shakespeare Society, as part of the Shakespeare 400 celebrations and as ‘Maisie Madigan’ in the second of Sean O’Casey’s Dublin Trilogy, “Juno And The Paycock”.

Also, much at home in the world of musical theatre, M/s McDonagh has won the coveted Association of Irish Musical Societies’ award for ‘Best Director’, for her production of Samuel and Bella Spewack / Cole Porter’s, “Kiss Me Kate”, for Gorey, (Co. Wexford) Musical Society, and was nominated as ‘Best Director’ for the Irish Premiere of Alistair McGuckian’s “The Ha’penny Bridge”.

Her most recent production was the loosely based on actual events musical, “Footloose” (Music is by Tom Snow, lyrics by Dean Pitchford, and book by Pitchford and Walter Bobbie), for the Oyster Lane Theatre Group, her seventeenth musical to date.

Imelda has enjoyed adjudicating throughout Ireland since 2001, including the finals for Macra and the Irish Country Women’s Association (ICA) and the Confined All-Ireland Drama Finals, in Tubbercurry in 2017.

She is also secretary of The Association of Drama Adjudicators and has recently been awarded “The Civic Merit Award” for her services to the community by Irish President, Michael D. Higgins.

Programme of Plays and Drama Groups (D.G.)

Friday, March 16th, – (Open) – “Unbroken Circle”, – Gorey L.T.G..
Saturday, 17th March,(Confined) – “The Beauty Queen of Leenane”, – Kilworth D.G..
Sunday, 18th March, – (Confined)“Abigail’s Party”, – Skibbereen D.G..
Monday, 19th March – (Confined) – “Caught in the Net”, – Conna D.G..
Tuesday 20th March –  (Open)“Stolen Child”, – Brideview D.G..
Wednesday 21st March(Open)“Blyth Spirit”, – Thurles D.G..
Thursday 22nd March(Confined)“Some Girls”, – Curtain Call, Dungarvan D.G..
Friday 23rd March(Confined)“Bold Girls”, – Holycross/Ballycahill D.G..
Saturday, March 24th(Open)“Duet For Two”, – Nenagh D.G..

Conor O’Connell to adjudicate unique Schools Drama Festival

The County Tipperary Open Drama Festival Schools Festival, the only such event in Ireland will be held on Tuesday, March 13th, starting at 7.30pm.

The entries to date include Ursuline Convent Secondary School, Thurles; Presentation Convent Secondary School, Thurles; and Colaiste na Trionoide, Doon, east Co. Limerick, who will stage two plays.

The adjudicator is once again Mr Conor O’ Connell, nephew of former Thurles hotelier and businessman, Mr Derek O’Connell. A great friend of the organising committee; Conor has himself starred in an acting role on stage in Holycross, with the renowned Silken Thomas Players and who was a big hit with the young players last year.


Neil Diamond Cancels Third Leg Of 50th Anniversary Tour

Tipperary fans (of which there are very many), will be sad to note that American singer-songwriter, musician and actor, Mr Neil Diamond, has announced that he is retiring from touring, following his recent diagnosis of Parkinson’s disease.

Parkinson’s disease (PD) is a long-term degenerative disorder of the central nervous system, the most obvious signs of which are slowness of movement and difficulty with walking.

The truly outstanding world class performer, who turned 77 years old, just yesterday, (January 24th 1941) informed his massive international fan base this week that he had made this decision with great reluctance and personal disappointment; while thanking them for their continued support.

His song “Hell Yeah” [Video hereunder (2005)], possibly best interprets his overall outlook on his life. (Lyrics HERE).

The onset of this disease is said to have made it arduous for Mr Diamond to tour and perform on any large-scale footing. The singer has reassured his numerous devoted enthusiasts that he plans to continue to write and record his music for some time to come.

In a statement this week on his website he stated “It is with great reluctance and disappointment that I announce my retirement from concert touring.  I have been so honoured to bring my shows to the public for the past 50 years.
My sincerest apologies to everyone who purchased tickets and were planning to come to the upcoming shows. I plan to remain active in writing, recording and other projects for a long time to come.

My thanks goes out to my loyal and devoted audiences around the world. You will always have my appreciation for your support and encouragement. This ride has been ‘so good, so good, so good’ thanks to you.”

Mr Diamond was due to embark on the third leg of his 50th anniversary tour in Australia and New Zealand in March of this year. These now cancelled gigs followed concerts in Europe, including Ireland, and the US back in 2017.