BALLYSHANNON CELEBRATES IT'S 58TH. DRAMA FESTIVAL
Ballyshannon Drama Society hosted another very successful Drama Festival in March 2010 with Butt Drama Circle from Ballybofey wining the overall award in the Open Section with The New Electric Ballroom.
The first Festival was in 1952 making Ballyshannon Festival one of the oldest in Ireland. On January 18th. 1952 a very successful meeting was held in the town's "98 Hall" to organise the Festival. The officers were:
President: Rev. Mc Elroy
Vice President: Fr. Sharkey
Chairman: Fr. Haughey
Secretaries: Hugh Daly/Peggy Meehan- Cleary
Treasurer: Fred Daly
Committee: P.J.Croal, Peg Carney, Mary Monaghan, Mrs. Stewart, Mrs. Mulvey, Miss C. Gallagher, Seamas Martin, Tommy Crowe, Paddy Mc Loone, Tommy Cleary, Eoin Carney, Gervase King, Seamas Mc Gonigle, Phil McLoone, Jeremiah Patton, Larry Fagan, Paid Mc Closkey,Marie Brady, H.J.Travers, Charlie Smith, Mrs. Mc Gonigle, Seamas O Donnell, Peggy Comerford.
The Adjudicator in 1952 was Hilton Edwards and the venue was the Abbey Centre. The official opening was performed by the Bishop of Raphoe, Rev. Dr. Mc Neely. Included in the festival were competitions for full length plays, one act plays, Irish language plays and character sketches. The Adjudicator of the Irish section was Rev. J.Shields, M.A. D.C.L. from Letterkenny.
From the beginning the festival was well supported by the general public and business community with trophies being presented by the Traders of Ballyshannon, the Cementation Company, the Erne Swimming Club, Donegal Democrat, Gallogley's Jewellers, Cafe Saimer, John Stephens Ltd., Assaroe Café, Larry Fagan, Bernard Sweeney, the Drama Committee and more recently Donegal Parian China.
Ballyshannon in the early 1950's enjoyed a period of prosperity as a result of the Erne Scheme which involved the construction of two Hydro Electric Power stations at Cathleen's Falls and Cliff. It seems no coincidence that the local Aodh Ruadh G.A.A. Club won the Donegal Senior football championship in 1951 and the local Musical Society was also founded in 1952.
One of the features of the festival has been the large number of Season Ticket holders who have supported the festival over the years, some for all 57 festivals. Ballyshannon knowledgeable audiences have been entertained by groups from all over Ireland.
'Blue Riband' winning groups were from Carrick on Shannon, Enniskillen, Derry, Tuam, Sligo, Lifford, Athlone, Balintra( Co. Monaghan), Carrigallen, Tubbercurry, Donegal Town, Holywood ( Co. Down), 'Puddle Alley'- Strabane, Butt Drama Circle- Ballybofey, College Players- Limerick, Lough Gill- Sligo, Coolera- Sligo, Drumlin Players- Monaghan. Winners from Dublin were Mercury, Olivian and Loreto.
The 1952 winners were Loreto Players, Dublin with their production of "Bonaventure". Runners-up were Convent of Mercy, Past Pupils Union, Enniskillen with the "Heiress".
Individual award winners over the years include :
Bishop Edward Daly ( Best Producer 1977)
Tommy Mc Ardle ( Best Producer 1972 and 1973)
John Mc Ardle ( Best Actor 1968)
Maria Mc Dermott- Roe ( Best Actress 1974 and 1975)
Conal Gallen (Best Actor 1983)
Charlie Mc Gettigan Best Actor 1993)
Included in the list of distinguished Adjudicators are:
Michael Mac Liammoir
Tomas Mac Anna
Ray Mac Nally
Betty Ann Norton
The officers are :
Chairman- Paddy Campbell
Vice Chairman- Ailis McIntyre
Secretary- John Travers
Treasurer- Jim McIntyre
P.R.O.- Michael Daly
Festival Director-John Travers
Drama Festival 2011 - 12th to 20th March
Adjudicator: Mike Kaiser GODA
Steel Magnolia's - All Ireland Winners!
Ballyshannon Drama Society embarked this year, for the first time in many many years, on the Three Act Drama Festival Circuit. In all they competed in seven festivals, winning five and coming second and third in the others. They then competed and won the All-Ireland Confined Competition in the Opera House in Wexford. The play was Steel Magnolia's, directed by Anne McHugh. The Group were awarded a Civic Reception by the Town Council on the 27th June to mark their achievement. More information on www.ballyshannondrama.ie
Drama Festival 2012 - 60th Anniversary - Saturday 10th to Sunday 18th March, 2012 - for results check out www.ballyshannondrama.ie
All-Ireland Open Drama Circuit 2012 - The Memory of Water