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Holycross/Ballycahill – ‘Tipp Top’ in Open Drama Festival

News Flash: Holycross/Ballycahill Drama Group with their production of “Bold Girls” have qualified for the All-Ireland Confined Finals of the Amateur Drama Council of Ireland; to be held in St Bridget’s Hall, Carnew, County Wicklow from Friday, April 13th to Saturday, April 21st.

Holycross/Ballycahill Are Tops in Tipp at Co. Tipperary Open Drama Festival

Tom Ryan Reports:-

It’s official. The 50 year old Holycross/Ballycahill Drama Group are tops in Co. Tipperary!

The winners of last year’s “Tipperary Star” Cup awarded in the Confined Section of the Co. Tipperary Drama Festival, this year have won the Dr Morris Cup for Best Tipperary Play in the Confined Section. Same was announced last Saturday night in St Michael’s Community Centre, Holycross; as a hugely successful 36th Co. Tipperary Open Drama Festival drew to a close.

Ms Imelda McDonagh

Already preparations are under way for next year’s festival to be held in March, 2019.  A justifiably delighted Mr Donal Duggan, (Festival Director), thanked everybody who had contributed in any way to the success of the festival.

The “Tipperary Star Cup” in the Confined Section went to Curtain Call Productions, Dungarvan, with Neil La Bute’s “Some“Girls”.

The “Hannifin Cup” for Most Entertaining Play went to Conna Drama Group’s “Caught in the Net” and the Gallagher Award for Most Promising Actor/Actress, went to Lilly Heindich Doyle (Gorey).  Ms Jenny Bracken of the Holycross/Ballycahill Group, latter who are having a very successful year, winning many awards nationwide, won Best Actress Award for her role as
“Marie” in “Bold Girls”, to further add to other best actress awards won by this very talented Thespian.

Jacqui Lacey was nominated for Best Supporting Actress Award. Miriam Lanigan, Paddy Connolly and Conor O’Connell of Holycross /Ballycahill won an Adjudicator’s award for Imaginative and Atmospheric Lighting.

The Tipp FM Trophy for the Open Section winners was won by Bridge View, Tallow, for their truly delightful “Stolen Child” by Yvonne Quinn and Bairbre Ni Chaoimh.

Nenagh DG were second with “Duet For One”, while Thurles Drama Group were third with Noel Coward’s “Blithe Spirit”.  Mary Bowe, playing Elvira in “Blithe Spirit” won Best Actress Award for Thurles Drama Group.  Martin Fitzgerald was nominated for Best Actor and Liam Ryan was nominated for Best Supporting Actor in “Blithe” Spirit”, while Anne O’ Dwyer won the Josie Slattery Trophy for Best Overall Set. Sandra Dunne was nominated for the Best Supporting Actress Award.

Kevin Walshe of Nenagh DG was nominated for Best Actor Award and Ciara O’Sullivan of Nenagh for Best Actress Award (Open).

The Tipperary successful Holycross/Ballycahill Drama Group and Dr Morris Cup winners, comprised  Elaine O’ Dwyer, Jenny Bracken, Joanne O’Neill and Jacqui Lacey, while Claire Ryan was Director. And they and their hard-working stage crew deserve many accolades. As, indeed, do all groups who participated with a wide ranging selection of top plays over the nine days of delightful theatre, a credit to rural Tipperary.

Hopefully this prestigious festival will ever receive all the support it so richly deserves.
The festival attracted theatre enthusiasts from all over Tipperary and other counties who lavished praise on the organising committee.  It was pointed out that The Tipperary and Doonbeg Drama Festivals are the only ones to feature the playing of our national anthem. And in Holycross, Martin (“Marty”) O’Neill can be proud of his dedication in this regard. He always plays “Amhrán na bhFhiann” nightly before the plays ever get under way.

The Festival committee led by Mr Donal Duggan, Festival Director, who was MC nightly, won praise from popular adjudicator, Ms Imelda McDonagh, who was a richly informative voice nightly and very helpful to groups with vast experience at her disposal.

County Tipperary Drama Festival Committee 2018
President: V Rev Fr. Celsius Tierney, Parish Priest of Holycross/Ballycahill; Chairman: Tommy Lanigan; Festival Director: Donal Duggan; Treasurer: Maudie Bourke; Secretary; Claire Ryan; P.R.O:Geraldine O’Neill; Sponsorship: Ger O’Dwyer; Raffle: Diana Lacey; Technical: Marty O’Neill and Paddy Connolly; Committee: Peg Ryan, Elaine O’Dwyer, Derek Doherty.

A special subcommittee comprises :
Jack Henchion, John Glasheen, Aisling Henchion, Gerry Kennedy.

Attendance at the festival included:
“Tipperary Star” Sports Editor, Brian McDonnell, John Quinlan (Moyne), Martin, Mary and Anna Fitzgerald (Holycross), Marian Burke (Holycross), Tim Curran and his daughter Rachel (Thurles), Fintan O Gorman (Athnid), Denis Carroll (Clonoulty), Tom Quinlan (Ballyhcahill), Gerard J Hough (Cashel), author John G O ‘Dwyer (Thurles), Nora and Mary Maher (Thurles), Mairead Ryan (Holycross), Patrick Crowe, (Thurles), Siobhan Kelly (Thurles), Josephine O’Gorman (Thurles), Tommy Kennedy (Thurles), Mike Hennessy (Tipperary Mid-West Radio), and his wife, Breda, Dolores Purcell (Athnid), Tom and Margaret Purcell (Littleton), James Finn, and Geraldine O’Neill (Tipp FM), Kitty Devane (Clonoulty) and her daughter Edel.

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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”.

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“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.

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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.

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Thurles Talented Actress Amy O’Dwyer Exits “Fair City”

The very attractive and talented actress Ms Amy O’Dwyer; a native of Two-Mile-Borris, Thurles, Co. Tipperary, and she who played the character of ‘Hannah’ in the RTE One soap, ‘Fair City’, alas, met her stage death last night.

Amy’s character (Hannah) died, on set, at the hands of Dr Oakley (Marcus Lamb) after he pushed her down a stairs, as she attempted to rescue baby Saoirse.

Exiting from the soap, Ms O’Dwyer, who in previous years was no stranger to the Thurles stage,  (Phoenix Productions and Ursuline Convent Musicals), stated that she will now greatly miss her fellow cast members, especially her fellow ‘Phoenix Way’ crew, since she worked mostly in storyline with them. Despite their rocky relationship on TV screens; Miriam (Sorcha Fox) and Emmet (Daithi MacSuibhne) in real life she regards them as close friends.

Amy, also a most talented vocalist, regrets that while there were so many people she didn’t get a chance to work with, because of her daily scripts, she admits she will now miss the busy hum of working on the ‘Fair City’ set, together with the supportive comradery that was so abundantly available.

Fair City comes to our screens again tonight on RTE One at 8.00pm, and in tonight’s episode, viewers can observe the inevitable fall-out, which comes about following Hannah’s (Amy O’Dwyer) death.

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