Gay Byrne, affectionately known as Uncle Gay, Gaybo or Uncle Gaybo is without any doubt one of the most loved television and radio personalities ever to take to the airwaves in Irish history. His most notable broadcasting role was as the first host of “The Late Late Show,” over a 37-year period spanning 1962 until 1999. From 1973 until 1998, Gaybo also presented “The Gay Byrne Hour,” later “The Gay Byrne Show,” when it expanded to a two hour show on RTÉ Radio 1, each weekday morning.
He comes to The Source Theatre, Thurles, on April 11th next.
Gay, came from a good stable, (to use one of my grandmother’s famous quotes). Born of son of Edward Byrne, who joined the Irish Volunteers in 1912, his father later joined the 19th Hussars, Infantry Division, at the commencement of World War I. He again later fought during the Irish War of Independence, including O’Connell Street, Dublin, before taking up employment in Author Guinness. Here he worked on the barges that operated on the river Liffey, transporting wooden casks from St. James’s Gate Brewery to ships anchored at the North Wall, Dublin. Edward Byrne had married Gay’s mother, Annie Carroll, latter a native of Bray, Co Wicklow, in Belfast, in 1917, while briefly home on leave from World War I.
Gay Byrne’s “The Late Late Show,” had much to do in shaping our modern Ireland that began emerging from the 1960s. Indeed it was famously stated by one politician, Mr Oliver J. Flanagan, that, “there was no sex in Ireland until Teilifís Éireann went on the air.” The then Bishop of Galway, Michael Browne once called Gay “a purveyor of filth,” following an interview where he had asked a woman what colour night attire she wore on her wedding night and to which the latter had replied stating that she believed she’d worn nothing. This was the same Bishop who in 1957, in response to a growing tension between Catholics and Protestants at Fethard-on-Sea, had stated; “Non-Catholics do not protest against the crime of conspiring to steal the children of a Catholic father, but they try to make political capital when a Catholic people make a peaceful and moderate protest,” and for which remark later he would be forced to publicly apologise.
Though Gay saw himself as a presenter of current debate and never a radical social reformer, he was indeed both, by his ability to open up & publicly discuss certain closed topics, which many of us growing up in the ‘Gaybo era,’ were perhaps reluctant to speak about openly, or if we were honest, too ignorant to understand that every story has two sides, both worthy of discussion.
Today the 78 year old still attracts the headlines, vigorously opposing Property Tax, which he opposed previously in the 1990s. In a statement recently to the Evening Herald, Gay states again publicly what the rest of us now accept in silence;
“I always thought the property tax was a bad idea and it is there solely to appease the Labour Party and the left-wing people in Government. That’s why it’s there, and the Troika in Europe who want it for the same reasons. This should be proof to us that we are no longer masters of our fate. We are being told what to do every single hour of every day by unelected bureaucrats in Brussels. They are doing the same in Cyprus.“
He said his opposition to the property tax, which he began on the Gay Byrne Hour, the weekday radio programme he presented for 27 years on RTE Radio, had infuriated the Labour Party. Gay stated;
“I know the Labour Party at the time detested me for my opposition to it. Because they saw the people being taxed as wealthy people living in big houses. But I had letters from old and retired people all over the country who were living in reasonably good houses which they had bought 40 or 50 years beforehand. These older people were certainly not earning the same money any more, and on a low pension, it seemed to be, and I said it out loud on the radio day after day, they were being taxed for just staying alive.”
Gay Byrne, will perform his show, “Gay Byrne Live,” as part of a short Irish tour at The Source Theatre, Thurles. Following sell-out shows last year, this is an exclusive chance to enjoy Gay at his very best, extolling some of the greatest show-biz stories, never told in an hilarious evening’s entertainment.
His show is one night only, on Thursday, April 11th and tickets, believe me are going to be “as scarce as hen’s teeth.”
For more booking details Click HERE or ring The Source Box Office on Tel: 0504 90204.
The much loved comedy actor Frank Thornton who died, aged 92, on March 16th last at his home in Barnes London, will possibly be best remembered as the impeccably tailored Captain Peacock, who played the store supervisor role, in the 12 year running BBC Television sitcom “Are You Being Served?,” which began in 1973.
Frank was born Frank Thornton Ball at Dulwich, South London, on January 15th 1921 and was educated at Alleyn’s Church of England School. He worked as an insurance clerk for a short time, before discovering his passion for comedy & all things theatre.
I wonder how many people living in Thurles today can remember back to 1940, when on leaving the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art (RADA,) Frank made his professional début, aged 19, in the still standing, old Confraternity Hall (Formally Thurles Jail,) here in Thurles, in Co Tipperary.
In the Thurles Confraternity Hall, back then, he took on the actor’s profile of the hearty, extravagant ‘Brian Curtis,’ in the dramatist, Terence Rattigan’s play “French Without Tears,” and later honed his craft, touring with this and other plays around the small towns and village halls in the then Irish “Fit-Up” tradition. The “Fit-Ups,” were the travelling shows that went from town to town around Ireland, and were so-called because the actors literally transformed or fitted up each town hall they visited, from the arranging of the seating to the organising of lighting and sometimes even building the stage.
Spring has finally sprung and with it the prospect of many exciting performances, films, workshops and exhibits at The Source Arts Centre. Eloise Loughnane has been taking a look & reports here.
Sowing the Seeds of Dance – Community Dance Project
The highly successful Sowing the Seeds of Dance Community Dance Project, with pubic dance classes for all ages and dance in education workshops, anyone can get involved so abandon your notions of dance and try a class. Over 200 participants have taken part so far, why don’t you? No experience necessary & tickets reasonable priced.
Crawford Art Gallery
Crawford Art Gallery, Cork comes to Thurles. Tipperary Bealtaine Festival presents “The Way Home,” featuring works by Daniel O’Neill, Gerard Dillon, Barrie Cooke and Norah McGuinness to name but a few. School outreach and a public lecture by Dr. Peter Jordan make this a very special show. Also in the gallery this season is local artist P.J O’Connell who will show work from the past 30 years and also create new work in situ in his gallery studio during June.
Gay Byrne, David McSavage, Gemma Hayes, Ballet Ireland
A host of stars are coming to Thurles, in the coming weeks with season highlights including:- Gay Byrne Live: A chance to hear Gaybo’s best stories from an outstanding career. David McSavage: Savage Eye star is coming to town – lock up your daughters! Gemma Hayes: Local girl Gemma brings an eclectic blend of folk, pop & electronics. Ballet Ireland’s ‘Cinderella – after the ball’: An alternative take on a classic fairytale. Silent: Award-winning and sensational show written and performed by Pat Kinevane – highly recommended. The Man in a Woman’s Shoes: A charming piece of Irish theatre for Bealtaine. Box of Frogs: Mary McEvoy, John Moynes & Dil Wickremasing, sharing stories of their personal experience with mental health & with a good dose of humour added in.
Upcoming Children’s events include: Tic Teac: Playful interactive show for 3-6 year olds, using simple Irish, English & Song. The Bockety World of Henry Bucket: Barnstorm return with stunning children’s theatre.
Wonderland Drama Workshop at Easter and Summer Workshops in theatre, art & design, singing and other activities for children from 4 years.
Information: For dates, bookings and more information on all events Click HEREor ring The Source Box Office on Tel: 0504 90204.
Opera d’Arte – With Special Guests Phoenix Productions.
Experience all the passions of Opera in one spectacular production.
Opera d’Arte comes to the Source Arts Centre Thurles for one night only, following standing ovations at the National Concert Hall, Dublin, UCH Limerick and Cork Opera House last year.
Opera d’Arte presents a diverse programme of musical masterpieces including selections from La Traviata, Carmen, Cosi Fan Tutte, Die Fledermaus, La bohème, Turandot and The Barber of Seville.
The Production Features A Stellar Line Up Of Some Of Ireland’s Favourite Singers:-
Sandra Oman, Soprano (Opera Ireland, Co-Opera, Opera Holland Park).
Deirdre Masterson, Mezzo-Soprano (Opera Ireland, Wexford Festival Opera, Lyric Opera), Eugene Ginty, Tenor, (Opera Ireland, ENO, Scottish Opera).
Owen Gilhooly, Baritone (Opera Ireland, OTC, Royal Opera House).
Musical Director, David Wray is well known to audiences here in Thurles through his work with Phoenix Productions. For this performance, members of Phoenix Productions will join the principal cast to sing some of the great opera choruses. This is the perfect evening out for both opera buff and opera novice alike!
Date: Saturday 9th March 8.00pm. Tickets: €24 / €22 Concession.
Why not make a night of it and come early to enjoy a meal or bar bites at The Source Café from 7.00pm? Ring Matt Tel: 0504-58858 for more details. The Source Bar will be open from 7.00pm.
Cast of Thurles Musical Societies “Titanic The Musical,” to be staged from Tuesday March 19th to Saturday March 23rd inc.
Reporter Noel Dundon (Thurles Musical Society PRO.)
Thurles Musical Society will stage “Titanic The Musical,” in the Premier Hall, Thurles from Tuesday March 19th to Saturday March 23rd, in what is anticipated to be a spectacular piece of theatre.
A company of more than 70 strong have been preparing for the hit show since just after Christmas and have worked very hard under the watchful eye of Director Peter Kennedy and Musical Director/Chorus Mistress Mary Rose McNally. With music and lyrics by Maury Yeston and a book by Peter Stone, the show opened on Broadway in 1997. It won five Tony Awards including the award for Best Musical.
Titanic is set on the ocean liner RMS Titanic which sank on its maiden voyage on April 15, 1912. The discovery of the wreckage of the RMS Titanic in 1985 attracted Yeston’s interest in writing a musical about the famous disaster.
“What drew me to the project were the positive aspects of what the ship represented,” states Yeston.
Humankind’s striving after great artistic works and similar technological feats, despite the possibility of tragic failure.
The dreams of the passengers on board: 3rd Class, to immigrate to America for a better life; 2nd Class, to live a leisured lifestyle in imitation of the upper classes; 1st Class, to maintain their privileged positions forever. The collision with the iceberg dashed all of these dreams simultaneously, and the subsequent transformation of character of the passengers and crew had, it seemed to me, the potential for great emotional and musical expression on stage.
The high cost of Titanic’s set made it impossible for the show to have traditional out of town try-outs. Titanic’s previews began at Broadway’s Lunt-Fontanne Theatre in 1997 with major technical troubles: ironically, during previews the model ship on-stage would not sink. These difficulties were mostly resolved by opening night, but the show received mostly negative reviews.
During the previews, the cast had feared the show would close. Nevertheless, the show became a surprise hit. Many credit at least part of the show’s success to former talk show host Rosie O’Donnell who championed the show, featuring members of the original cast on her daytime talk show and giving away tickets to members of her studio audience. The show got a further boost when it won the 1997 Tony Award for Best Musical among other awards. The release of James Cameron’s film Titanic in December 1997 helped fuel worldwide interest in the disaster.
There were seven Tipperary people on board the Titanic including a man from Thurles – Denis Corcoran who was a fire man. And, one of the Titanic survivors Katie McCarthy from Ballydrehid, just outside Cahir has a number of descendants on stage with Thurles – an amazing twist to a truly amazing story.
Among the main role players in this production, which is a Premier County premiere, are John Scott (Captain Smith), Cathal O’Donoghue (Andrew), Frank Tuohy (Ismay), Michelle O’Connell (Kate McGowan), Danielle Martin (Kate Murphey), Catherine Britton (Kate Mullins), Barry Derby (Bride), John Hayes (Barrett), Gary Dempsey (Murdoch), Geraint Fyler (Fleet), Damian Sweeney (Hartley), Pat Hayes (Etches), Donal Taylor (Edgar Beane), Maria McElgunn (Alice Beane), Noel Dundon (Charles Clark), Cathy Keane (Caroline Neville), Barry Cagney (Jim Farrell), Gerard O’Hagan (Isodor Strauss), Rosalie Butler (Ida Strauss), Sarah Keane (Mrs Astor), Breda Byrne (Charlotte Cardoza), and Leonie Wettengel (Mademoiselle Aubert).
The show brings a huge challenge to the doors of the Thurles Society with particular emphasis on the Set and Stage Design team led by award winning Manager Tommy Sweeney – the sinking of the ship is worth seeing alone and will leave audiences in amazement at the work undertaken.
The opening night of this production is a Charity Night in association with the Thurles Lions Club with the proceeds going towards the “Trabolgan Holiday Project.” All tickets on this night will cost 15 Euro with a cheese and wine reception beforehand to help set the scene.
Tickets thereafter will be €15 and €8 for children. There is a special OAP rate on Wednesday evening. And, this year we have introduced a special deal for anyone bringing a group of six adults for all performances (except Tuesday) where they will be charged just the price of five. Twelve adults will be charged the price of ten tickets and so.
Tickets can be booked at Hickey’s Pharmacy, Liberty Square, Thurles from Tuesday March 12th or over the phone at Tel – 0504 21423.
Don’t miss this chance to see a really fabulous show right here on your doorstep.