Following a Reception for sponsors, guests and committee members, the Official Opening was conducted by Guest of Honour Mairead Ashe Fitzgerald. Mairéad was born and raised in Doonbeg before moving to Dublin. Her father, Mícheál Ághas was Principal of Doonbeg Boys’ National School for over 30 years and was one of the founding members of the West Clare Drama Festival. Mairéad has worked with O’Brien Press and recently published “A Terrible Beauty, Poetry of 1916”.
In her address on Officially Opening Drama Festival she spoke of the sense of community and belonging that voluntary organisations can instill. Mairead praised the work of such organisations, like the Drama Festival, and the efforts of people to survive and thrive in rural areas. She thought that is was particularly important that in the centenary year of the 1916 rising that we remember the heroic actions of our forefathers in creating the freedom to enjoy the benefits of Irish citizenship.
Chair of the West Clare Drama Festival, Rita Mc Inerney also introduced Michael O’Hara as the adjudicator for the Festival for the 10 nights. Michael spoke of his joy at finally making it Doonbeg for the first time, despite having spent many years in Limerick and visiting County Clare as part of his work s a schools inspector aas well as holidaying with his family in the county. He said h was looking forward to a wonderful 10 nights of amateur drama given the selection and range of productions which are to be showcased from both Irish and international playwright.
The West Clare Drama Festival then opened with a performance of “The Miracle Worker” by William Gibson by Nenagh Players, Tipperary which told the inspirational story of Helen Keller. Sunday night say the first Clare group of the competition, Shannonside present the powerful play of immigration and regret, “The Kings of the Kilburn High Road” by Jimmy Murphy.
On Monday night Ennis Players presented the Brian Friel classic melodrama “The Loves of Cass Maguire”. The third Clare group of the festival, Sliabh Aughty then present another powerful Irish classic, “The Year of the Hiker” by stalward playwright John B. Keane on Tuesday the 8th. On Wednesday, a local drama group Mullagh Entire bring Sam Cree’s hilarious comedy “Separate Beds” to the stage. The modern play “Passage” by Deirdre Kinihan will be staged by Kilkee group Amphitheatre Company on Thursday night. Marina Carr’s “Portia Coughlan” will be showcased by Thurles Drama Group on Friday night and this strong drama is unsuitable for children under 16.
The tone is lightened again on Saturday night when Kilmeen Dram Group bring the comedy “Run for Your Wife” by Ray Cooney. Second last night sees Galway group Compantas Lir present the broadway hit “Proof” by American author David Auburn which won a Tony Award and Pulitzer Prize. Final night of the West Clare Drama Festival is presented by the last Clare groups participting Corofin Drama Society with “A Day in the Death of Joe Egg” by Peter Nicols. Monday night’s performance will be followed by the final adjudication and presentation of prizes.
The West Clare Drama Festival is one of 36 Drama Festivals which take place around the country from late February to early April as part of the Competition Circuit of the Amateur Drama Council of Ireland. The 1st, 2nd and 3rd placing of groups in two categories by the Adjudicator at each festival count towards qualification for both All-Ireland Finals. The West Clare Drama Festival is well regarded as a premier festival with groups travelling from near and far year after year to compete in Doonbeg.
The full line up of the programme and information on the festival is available at www.westclaredramafestivaldoonbeg.com The West Clare Drama Festival also has a very popular Facebook page at www.facebook.com/WestClareDramaFestivalDoonbeg which posts daily pictures and news during the festival. Doors will open at the Festival each night at the 7.00pm with Curtain Up at 8.00pm. Admission is €10 for Adults and €5 for Children. Adult Season Tickets at €60 and Child Season Tickets at €30 can also be purchased with reserved seating. Tickets are available at the door each night.