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Thurles Tops 40th Tipp Drama Festival in Holycross, Thurles, Co. Tipperary.

Tom Ryan Reports:

The 50 years old Thurles Drama Group were accorded a very enthusiastic standing ovation at the conclusion of Conor McPhearson’s “The Seafarer”, in a packed St. Michael’s Community Centre Holycross, last week.

It was a truly sterling and hugely entertaining production that last Sunday night saw them scoop the awards for Best Production (The Tipp FM Trophy) presented by Geraldine O’Neill to Johnny Fogarty; Best Tipperary Play (Dr. Morris Cup), Most Entertaining Play (Hannifin Trophy) and Best Producer (Frank Gleeson Award) to Margaret McCormack Purcell.

Picture Courtesy Thurles Drama Group

The Tipperary Star cup for Best Play in the Confined Category went to Harvest Moon (“God of Carnage”) and Stephen Gleeson of the Tipperary Star was present.

Thurles, who have appeared in eight All-Irelands at Athlone had qualified for this year’s All-Ireland also in Athlone, with four festival wins achieved before Holycross. And this may not be the end of the Thurles success story. The national finals will be held in late April or early May.

The nine top groups who competed were from as far away as Lifford in Donegal and Rossmore in West Cork and a number of top thespians with professional experience were present in the audience including a member of RTE’s “The Offenders” from Cobh.

So also were many faithful festival fans from all over Tipperary and further afield. Festival Director for the last 40 years, Mr Donal Duggan, paid tribute to these great amateur theatre folk for their dedication; people he said who all have jobs to go to in the mornings after the show and after along journey for many miles through the nights and mornings for months from October onwards.

The Festival committee in Holycross also had dedicated much time and effort into organizing this wonderful festival the only one of its kind in County Tipperary. The Adjudicator, whose insightful remarks were appreciated by discerning and theatre loving audiences, was Mr Peter O’Driscoll. He was an actor, designer, and director with Strand Players and many other companies.

The hard working committee, who deserve to be congratulated on their trojan efforts, comprised of Very Rev. Celsus Tierney (President), Donal Duggan (Festival Director), Tommy Lanigan (Chairman), Claire Ryan (Secretary), Maudie Bourke and Tommy Lanigan (Joint Treasurers), Geraldine O Neill (PRO), Marty O’Neill and Ger O’Dwyer (sponsorship), Diana Lacey (Raffle), Marty O’Neill and Paddy Connolly (Technical), and Marie Spillane, Peg Ryan Elaine O’Dwyer, Andy Slattery (Committee).

The Sub Committee comprised of Jack Henchion, John Glasheen, Aishling Henchion, Gerry Kennedy, Derek Doherty and Jim Fin.

The popular festival continues to attract many loyal fans and also new faces including Presentation Thurles secondary school teacher Deborah Harty.

What Splendid entertainment we had in the picturesque village from Ireland’s top theatre groups performing top plays from tragedy to comedy.

It is also a great social occasion when friendships are formed or renewed. It is one of the most convivial occasions of the year and, of course, the tea breaks and Diana Lacey’s raffles for splendid prizes are all an integral part of the occasion always.

The large attendances included Archbishop (Emeritus) Dermot Clifford, a faithful festival fan, Denis Carroll Clonoulty, Tom Purcell Littleton, Josephine O’ Gorman Thurles, Mary Moore Thurles, Pat Maher Freighduff Cashel, Nora Maher Thurles, Martin Fitzgerald Holycross, Michael and Mary Blake Thurles, John Quinlan and friends Moyne, Comedian Tim Curran Thurles, top actresses Patricia Lowry and Jacqui Lacey Thurles and Cashel.

Other Awards.
GALLAGHER AWARD – for most promising actor/actress – Siobhain Corcoran Helen (The Cripple
of Inishmaan”)
.
BEST SET OVERALL- Josie Slattery Award – (Blithe Spirit”): Kilmeen D.G.
BEST LIGHTING: – Declan McCarthy – (“The Father”): Brideview D.G.
BEST SOUND: – Zara Holmes – (“When Elephants Collide”): Lifford Players.
1st ADJUDICATOR AWARD: – For Live Music – (“Playboy of the Western World”): Hinterland.
2nd ADJUDICATOR AWARD : – Allison Murphy as the Maid – (”Blithe Spirit”): Kilmeen.

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