Earley to launch revived Roscommon Drama Festival

Roscommon Drama Festival has been revived in the county town following an absence of 27 years. The festival was launched in Gleeson’s Restaurant last Thursday night, 1 st March.   The speakers on the night were Canon Eugene McLaughlin, President of the Festival committee and Con Connolly, Chairman of the committee.   The festival will run for eight nights at Roscommon Arts Centre from Friday March 9 th to Friday March 16 th . Brid McBride, journalist, theatre critic and broadcaster will adjudicate with participating groups competing for awards and nominations to the All-Ireland Finals. Huge interest has been expressed by drama groups and societies right around the country with groups from Tubbercurry, Skibbereen, Galway, Thurles, Sligo, Dunmore and Athlone performing a wonderful mix of plays. The festival will be officially opened by Major General Dermot Earley on Friday the 9 th of March.    The original Festival ran in the Royal Cinema from 1960 until 1980 and it now makes a welcome return to the cultural and social calendar of Roscommon. Ticket prices have been set at €12/€10 and bookings can now be made at Roscommon Arts Centre on 090 66 25824. Full details on all aspects of the festival are available from www.roscommondramafestival.com   It was the Festival committee’s desire to have awards with a local input that led to the commissioning of Michael Fayne who designed and produced the collection of bog oak pieces which will go to the winners in the various categories of this years eagerly awaited revived Festival.   Born and reared in the Parish of Kiltoom and Cam in South Roscommon where he still resides, it was Michael’s long time admiration of the work of the renowned artist Michael Casey of Newtowncashel that led him to develop his own craft.    The perpetual award takes the form of a sculpture by Genesis Fine Arts in Mullingar entitled ‘Four Seasons’.   Speaking at last week’s launch chairman of the Festival Committee Mr Con Connolly said ‘ From 1960 to 1980, the Festival was a fixture in Roscommon’s annual calendar of events, until it ceased, due to the unavailability of a suitable venue, when the Royal Cinema closed. Now, with the excellent facilities provided by Roscommon Arts Centre, a re-established festival committee and the support of the local community, we believe that it will become an annual fixture again.   ‘ The support and encouragement of every single person involved in reviving the Festival, from volunteers, sponsors, business people, local media and community and general well-wishers is sincerely appreciated and it is wonderful to see so many of them here tonight and a testament to the love of drama, story-telling and socialising that has been evident in Roscommon for many years.    ‘We would like to thank Eamonn and Mary Gleeson for providing the Festival Committee with a base here in their superb Townhouse Guesthouse and Restaurant and also John Keane and Sons for kindly sponsoring our launch.    ‘Heartfelt thanks to all the many local businesses, professionals and enterprises that sponsored groups and awards or took out adverts in the festival programme and, in particular, we would like to thank O’Brien’s Pharmacy and Health Food Store for sponsoring our perpetual award. Amateur drama is akin to the GAA, the players may not get paid but it still involves many expenses and the festival could not have gone ahead without the generosity shown by our sponsors, patrons and friends.    ‘One of the features of this year’s festival that we are proud of is the beautiful Bog Oak sculptures that are to be presented as awards at the festival and we would like to thank their creator, Michael Fayne for his artistry and hard work in designing such unique piece.   ‘We are fortunate to have been able to put together such an inviting and exciting programme and we would urge people to make the most of it by booking their seats now. This is a unique opportunity to see some of the best amateur drama groups in the entire country perform acclaimed plays right here in Roscommon. A live drama performance needs a good audience to really take off, so come along to a night of guaranteed entertainment! All bookings can be made at Roscommon Arts Centre 090 6625824.’