Roscommon Drama Festival kicks off this Friday

Festival attracts cream of Irish amateur drama, launch told

Roscommon Drama Festival Committee 2023: Back row (l-r) Anne Murphy, Frank Nally, Jimmy Hoban, Joe Nally, Tom Costello, Bernie Maher and Riona McGuinness. Front row (l-r) Mary Cox, Brigeen Fitzmaurice, Mairead Nally, Mary Finn, Marie McCrann and Caroline Cunningham. Pic: Michelle Hughes Walsh

The Roscommon Drama Festival, which runs from Friday, March 3rd to Saturday, March 11th, was officially launched in Aras an Chontae, Roscommon, by Cathaoirleach of Roscommon County Council, Cllr. Tom Crosby.

Also on the night, prizes were presented to all the winners in the story writing competition for primary schools, which has now become a regular and popular part of the festival.

Speaking before a large attendance, festival chairperson Mary Finn welcomed all the guests, noting: “This year ladies and gentlemen, we are very confident that our programme will match the high standard patrons have come to expect from our festival, with only the very best in amateur drama on show in the Roscommon Arts Centre.

“I must say that it is a credit to Roscommon County Council that we have an absolutely superb facility at our disposal. A very special word of thanks to Stephen and the team in the Arts Centre”.

Mary proceeded to give a rundown on the plays presenting at the festival, ranging from Marina Carr’s ‘By the Bog of Cats’ on opening night to the John B Keane classic ‘Sive’ on the final night, commenting:  “We are in for a feast of drama, which will touch on all our emotions in the course of the week”.

Mary went on to thank all those who hosted festival clubs around the town, as well as all the sponsors, CEO Shane Tiernan and all the council staff – especially Sean Carty and Siobhan Regan, who worked tirelessly to prepare the venue for the launch.

She also thanked Declan Molloy of Molloy’s in Abbeytown for providing the refreshments, and also Cormican’s in Abbey Street for sponsoring the story writing competition.

Roscommon County Council’s Arts Officer Rhona McGrath paid special tribute to Mary Finn and her hard-working committee, noting the significant contribution made by the committee to the cultural life of the county.

Cathaoirleach of Roscommon County Council Cllr. Tom Crosby, who launched the festival for 2023, welcomed the large attendance, taking care to give special mention to all the “parents, teachers and children who have participated in the children’s story writing competition, which has become such an important and integral part of the festival itself”, noting that “every student who participated is a prize-winner”.

“This festival is a leading fixture on the amateur drama circuit”, continued Cllr. Crosby. “It attracts the cream of Irish amateur drama in both the open and confined sections. This a further testimony to the tireless efforts of a fine group of people who really love performing and staging top class drama”.

Noting the “very good” health of the drama scene in Ireland, Cllr. Crosby asked, “Where else can you get a better ‘slice of life’ than on the stage? This programme encompasses the whole gamut of human emotion and feelings, ranging from greed and betrayal to the joy of young love and hope”.

He also highlighted the significant boost events such as this give to the local economy. “Local businesses such as bars, restaurants, accommodation providers, etc. benefit from the influx of people – coming not just from Roscommon but also from neighbouring counties and further afield to attend the festival”.

Cllr. Crosby concluded, saying: “I have no doubt that the festival will provide us with great entertainment and I wish the committee every success, with full houses, great drama and groups who are willing to ‘break a leg’ on the night!”