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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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Tipp Drama Festival Director Pays Tribute To late Biddy White Lennon

Journalist and Author Tom Ryan, Rahealty, Thurles, Reports:-

The Festival Director of the Co. Tipperary Open Drama Festival, Mr Donal Duggan, has yesterday paid tribute to the memory of actress/author, Ms Biddy White Lennon, who passed away just last weekend.

The popular actress who played Maggie in the popular RTE soap, “The Riordans”, adjudicated at the Tipperary Drama Festival in Holycross twice, once in 1984 and again in 2013.  Mr Duggan, then (as now) Festival Director and Mr Tom Molony (then Chairman of Holycross/Ballycahill Drama Group) and highly regarded seasoned Thespian, Mr Pat McGrath, were even incorporated into Biddy’s script for the Radio 1 version of the popular soap, “Glenroe”.

Pictured above, in better times, are (L to R) Mr Donal Duggan (Festival Director), the late Biddy White Lennon and Mr Michael Lowry, TD.

Biddy stayed locally in Holycross during her festival sojourns as adjudicator, including with Mr & Mrs Tom and Elizabeth Molony, The Green, Holycross. Indeed in the radio script for “Glenroe” it was mentioned that the Glenroe Players were on the festival circuit and met Tipperary Festival Director, Mr Donal Duggan and Committee Chairman, Mr Tom Molony, and the inimitable Mr Pat McGrath in Holycross at the festival, thus ensuring a modicum of fame for this Abbey-side trio.

Biddy reminded Mr Donal Duggan of this when they next met in 2013. “She was pleased with her stay here in Holycross”, said Mr Duggan, who brought her on a site-seeing tour of the Rock of Cashel and other historic places in the county; a traditional courtesy he affords all festival adjudicators.

Mr Duggan said he was saddened to hear of the passing of the popular actress/author; stating
“Biddy was a very competent adjudicator and very easy to work with. Her popularity from her years as ‘Maggie’ in “The Riordans” helped to attract huge audiences to the festival in 1984.  She went on to write the radio script for “Glenroe” having adjudicated at the Festival in 1984.  Ar dheis De a hanam”

Yet one other Thurles resident was well acquainted with Ms Biddy White Lennon. George Willoughby got to know Biddy through numerous appearances in “The Riordans”, during the years 1975/76, while working as a featured extra. “Being involved with the “The Riordans”, was like being a member of a close-knit family. The word ‘celebrity’ back then did not exist; featured actors and lowly extras like myself taking part, all used the same canteen facilities, on location”, said George.

“Filming “The Riordans” was quite radical for that time, with Outside Broadcast Units being used rather than the more usual TV studio setting”, said George. “Even if scenery and prop space had been available to build a studio farm, it would have been nigh impossible to rid audio tape of the sounds of then Dublin city life, with its constant drone of Ambulance/Fire/Garda sirens; overhead aeroplanes and endless traffic noise pollution”.

“To speed up the process of getting film back to the studio for editing”, continued George, “it was instead decided to film on a rural farm near Dunboyne in County Meath, although the series would have us believe it was set in a fictional townsland called Leestown, in Co. Kilkenny.”

“The Riordans” radically changed the rules of broadcasting” stated George.  “The rural characters portrayed by cast members like Ms Biddy White Lennon, inspired the creation of Yorkshire Television equivalents “Emmerdale”, which we so enjoy today. Even production crew from what was to be “Emmerdale Farm” visited “The Riordans” rural set to observe how RTE were managing this somewhat new phenomenon of Outside Broadcast Units”.

“Alas, for “The Riordans”, the music originally used to introduce each episode, Seoirse Bodley’s orchestral arrangement of the Irish traditional tune, “The Palatine’s Daughter” (Iníon An Phailitínigh), no longer plays on Irish TV, since the series was regrettably chopped back in 1979″, concluded George.

The Independent North Tipperary Dail Deputy, Michael Lowry, took centre stage on Ms Biddy White Lennon’s last visit to Holycross, Thurles in 2013, when he officially opened the 31st annual Co. Tipperary Open Drama Festival in a packed Holycross Community Centre, where Biddy White Lennon, was the professional adjudicator.

Mr Lowry, who received a warm reception from the audience in the packed theatre in his home village, sponsored the local awards-winning Holycross / Ballycahill Drama Group production of the comedy, “The God Of Carnage”, by French playwright, Yasmina Reza, which opened the
festival on that particular night.

Mr Lowry has supported the festival for many years and is a popular figure with audiences. The attendance at the opening night also included his son, Councillor Micheal Lowry; members of drama groups from various parts of Co. Tipperary; the then “Rose of Thurles” Ms Emma Moore; Littleton’s Jim Ryan (MCC) and the now late Fr. Tom Breen, (PP), latter then also the Festival Committee President.

Mr Lowry lauded the organising committee on its work for the festival over 31 years and in particular Festival Director, Donal Duggan, who has been in that role for all that time.

The Holycross/Ballycahill group got the Festival off to “a great start”, according to the popular adjudicator, Ms Biddy White Lennon, “who was no stranger to Holycross”, as Michael Lowry pointed out. He recalled that in 1983 when the late TJ Maher, MEP, opened the first Festival in Holycross, only fourteen people were to be counted in the audience on that night.

The Festival had grown and developed over the years since then. “We have a fantastic organisation here, in Holycross, and I congratulate them. It is a totally voluntary organisation who have given endless hours to the festival.  Groups come from all over Ireland to Holycross and almost every year, groups from Holycross Festival reach the All-Ireland Finals.  Holycross is now established as one of Ireland’s major Drama Festival Locations”, stated Lowry on the night.

“The God Of Carnage” on that night was directed by Pat McGrath and the cast comprised of Jacqui Lacey, Martin “Marty” O’ Neill, Derek Doherty and Salome Hennessy. Lighting was by Paddy Connolly and Set Construction was by Pat McGrath, Andy Slattery, Catherine Lowry. Set

Design/Dressing was by Catherine Lowry and Marian Gilmore. Sound was by Joanne O’Neill and make-up by Peg Ryan, whilst Sally O’Rourke was in charge of Continuity.

The Set Crew comprised: Elaine O’ Dwyer, Gerry O’ Dwyer, Jack Henchion, Diana Lacey, Geraldine Henchion, Claire Ryan, Kevin Darmody.

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Death Of Actor Mr Peader Lamb

It is with sadness we report the death of well known actor Mr Peader Lamb, Glenageary, Co. Dublin and late of An Cheathrú Rua in Conamara, Co. Galway, at the age of 87 years; which took place yesterday, Friday 1st September 2017.

Son of the painter Mr Charles Vincent Lamb, RHA  (1893-1964); Mr Peader Lamb passed away peacefully at his home, surrounded by his loving family.

Left to Right: Actors Mr Peader Lamb (Deceased) & Ms Geraldine Plunkett.

Mr Lamb, a regular visitor to an address at Mill Road, Barnakey, Carrigatoher, Nenagh, Co. Tipperary, was married to well-known actress Ms Geraldine Plunkett, who as a young girl, and following her fathers sudden death from Asthma, became a border with her sister Joan, at the Ursuline Convent here in Thurles, Co Tipperary. Ms Plunkett is fondly remembered for her roles in RTÉ’s ‘Glenroe’ (1983); as Rose O’Brien in ‘Fair City’ (1989), and ‘The Clinic’ (2003).

Mr Lamb joined the Abbey Theatre in 1954, starring in such plays as ‘The Hostage’, ‘The Shadow of a Gunman’, and ‘Philadelphia Here I Come’.  In 1990 he toured North America with John Millington Synge’s, ‘The Playboy of the Western World’, while also taking part in many Irish language productions, both on TV and radio, including ‘Cré na Cille’ (Irish – “The Dirty Dust”), and ‘In Ainm an Athar’ (Irish – “In the Name of the Father”), ‘Fair City’ and ‘Ros na Rún’, (Irish – “Headland of the Secrets”), as well as the comedy Father Ted.

Mr Lamb is survived by his wife Ms Geraldine Plunkett, and five children.

Funeral Arrangements
The earthly remains of Mr Lamb will repose at his home on tomorrow afternoon, Sunday 3rd September, from 4.00pm, with a gathering of family and friends for a 7.00pm Prayer Service (all welcome).

Removal will take place on Monday morning to Our Lady of Victories Church, Sallynoggin, Co. Dublin, for a funeral Mass at 10.00am, followed by interment in St. Brigid’s Plot, Deansgrange Cemetery, Kill of the Grange, Co. Dublin.

Note: Donations if desired to the Blackrock Hospice.

Go ndéana Dia trócaire ar a anam dílis.

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Cats The Musical – Thurles – August 9th to 12th 2017 inc.

Thurles.Info have already announced previously that Phoenix Productions will this year perform Andrew Lloyd Webber’s 1981 West End music sensation ‘Cats’, latter based on T. S. Eliot’s “Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats”, (1939).

The production will take to the stage on August 9th, 2017 to August 12th, 2017, inclusive.

This year’s performance marks the 19th such musical performed by the group since its conception,  in 1998, here in Thurles.
Since then the company has introduced us to such memorable classics as ‘Seussical – The Musical’; ‘Seven Brides for Seven Brothers’; ‘Guys & Dolls’; ‘Little Shop of Horrors’; ‘Oliver’; ‘The Wiz’‘Les Miserables’; ‘The Phantom of the Opera’; ‘West Side Story’; ‘Beauty and the Beast’ and of course ‘Peter Pan’, to name but a few.

This year’s cast will see some 50 young teenagers take to the stage of the Premier Hall; same supported by a professional production team, thus granting you musical entertainment I promise you will not want to miss.

The Ticket Box office opened at the Premier Hall, today and will remain open during the hours 10.00am through to 5.00pm each day, until Friday next, inclusive. Booking Telephone Line: 087-9449244.

Tickets for this show will sell like the proverbial, ‘Hot Cakes’, so make sure that you purchase yours early. Do remember that theatre tickets for ‘CATS’ will make the PURR- FECT gift for some music lovers ‘Birthday’, or where a long overdue ‘Thank You’, is deemed appropriate for a friend or neighbour.

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