71st Ballyshannon Drama Festival – March 9th-17th 2024

2024 marks the 71st year of the Ballyshannon Drama Festival, and we have another fantastic line up for all our drama fans this year with a wide ranging programme, featuring everything from slapstick comedy to modern tragedy, touching on themes such as modern Irish life, the Civil War, politics and power, the dangers of over-indulgence and rugby!
The festival opens on Saturday March 9th with Newtownstewart Theatre Company presenting ‘The New Electric Ballroom’, Enda Walsh’s award-winning depiction of small-town life.
On Sunday night, Castleblaney Players present ‘No Going Back’ by Joe Hanratty, in which two brothers living in a border town in 1924 try to leave the past behind them.
The Enniskillen Theatre Company present ‘The Lonesome West’ by Martin Mc Donagh, part of his darkly comic Connemara trilogy, on Monday the 11th of March.
Corn Mill Theatre return to the Abbey on Tuesday with the hilarious comedy, ‘According to Rumour’ by Robert Scott, set in the aftermath of a ‘memorable’ party.
On Wednesday the 13th, we have ‘Eclipsed’ by Patricia Burke Brogan, telling the story of four women in a Magdalene laundry, presented by the Ray Leonard Players, Claremorris.
The Phoenix Players, Tubercurry, visit on Thursday the 14th with an adapatation of George Orwell’s ‘Animal Farm’.
On Friday the 15th, Ballyshannon Drama Society present ‘Margaret’, written by Ballybofey’s Shawn Byrne, starring our very own Rachel O’Connor as the Iron Lady in her later years, and directed by Monica Doherty.
It’s a night of rugby on Saturday the 16th as the All Blacks face Munster in ‘Alone It Stands’ by John Breen, presented by the Balally Players, Dundrum.
The festival will close on Sunday the 17th with the Arthur Miller classic, ‘A View from the Bridge’, presented by Prosperous Dramatic Society.
This year’s adjudicator is Mary Meaney, a regular visitor to the Ballyshannon Drama Festival in the past.
All shows will begin at 8pm nightly, except for Sunday the 17th which will start at 7.30pm to facilitate the awards ceremony. Season tickets are €75, plus €1 booking fee. Bookings for individual nights will open on March 1st via the Abbey Centre website, www.abbeycentre.ie .

‘The Two Lives of Gabriel Foley’ by Jimmy Keary (Feb. 14th-17th)

Ballyshannon Drama Society return to the Abbey Centre stage with the first production of 2024, the hilarious comedy ‘The Two Lives of Gabriel Foley’ by Jimmy Keany. This is the first production to be directed by Geraldine Diver, after recently stepping down as Principal of the Abbey Vocational School, who will be ably assisted by Trisha Keane.

The cast includes a number of familiar faces from the Ballyshannon theatrical scene: Ronan Drommund, Callum Gallagher, Louise Larkin, Joanne Cassidy, Mary Daly, Ailis Mc Intyre, Mary Hoey and Keith Robinson.

The play is a hilarious story of romance and confusion set in rural Ireland! Gabriel Foley is a middle-aged bachelor farmer, who lives with his elderly mother. He has been unlucky in love many times, much to his mother’s frustration. She thinks she’ll never get rid of him. Then he meets upmarket, Hazel Myers and joins the posh drama group in the nearby town in order to romance her.He is unaware that Chrissie McCabe – a cheerful countrywoman, who comes in to help him and his mother – fancies him. By the time Chrissie makes her feelings known to Gabriel, he has already got Hazel’s attention. He and Chrissie decide to try going out together. He tries to let Hazel down gently, but Hazel is not a woman to give up easily.

The show will run from Wednesday, February 14th to Saturday the 17th, at 8pm nightly.
Tickets can be booked online via the Abbey Centre website or by phone 0719851375.
Online Booking: https://abbeycentre.ticketsolve.com/ticketbooth/shows/1173652373

Rachel wins Best Supporting Actress in Athlone

Congratulations to Rachel O’Connor on winning the Best Actress in a Supporting Role award for her portrayal of Claire in ‘A Delicate Balance’, in the finals of the All Ireland Drama Festival!! The awards for the festival were presented at a Gala Awards Ceremony in the Radisson Athlone, on Saturday night. Before announcing the winner of the award, Adjudicator Paula Dempsey commented, “She owned the stage from the moment she stepped on it”.

Rachel O’Connor receiving the award for Best Actress in a Supporting Role for her portrayal of Claire in ‘A Delicate Balance’, at the All Ireland Drama Finals Gala Awards Ceremony held in the Radisson, Athlone, on Saturday May 6th, 2023.

‘A Delicate Balance’ also received nominations for Stage Management – well done Linda Gallagher, Mary Duggan and Karen Skelly, and Best Stage Setting – congrats Sean O’Connor!

Members of the ‘A Delicate Balance’ cast and crew in their finery at the All Ireland Drama Finals Gala Awards Ceremony held in the Radisson, Athlone, on Saturday May 6th, 2023.

Congratulations to the overall winners, Dalkey Players with their production of ‘By the Bog of Cats’. You can see the full list of awards along with photos from the Gala Awards Ceremony here: https://www.dramafestival.ie/gala-awards-2023/

Awards Ceremony & Hall of Fame at the 70th Ballyshannon Drama Festival

Congratulations to Damien Gallagher on being inducted into the Ballyshannon Drama Society Hall of Fame as part of the 70th Ballyshannon Drama Festival!

‘Darkness Echoing’, presented by Butt Drama Circle had a memorable night at Ballyshannon Drama Festival as they won a host of awards, including the Blue Riband – their first win on this year’s circuit.
Ray Leonard Players, with their production of ‘The Kings of the Kilburn High Road’ won the Confined section.

Results as follows:
Billy Myles Audience Award – Butt Drama Circle;
Best Set – Butt Drama Circle;
Best Stage Manager: Brenda Duffy, Butt Drama Circle;
Lighting – Butt Drama Circle;
Adjudicator’s Awards (x3) – Aoibheann Diver (Lifford Players); Bernie O’Brien (Pomeroy Players; Prosperous Dramatic Society (for the violent ending scene in their play).
Phil McLoone Award for outstanding achievement by a young person – Deirdre Ferguson (Ballyshannon Dramatic Society);
Best Actor Confined – Robert Holden as Jap in Kings of the Kilburn High Road;
Best Actress Confined – Mary Conlan – Netownstewart Drama Group;
Best Producer Confined (Hugh and Mary Daly Cup) – Anne Fahey – Ray Leonard Players;
Third Place Confined – Pomeroy Players;
Second Place Confined (Catherine Breslin Award) – Newtownstewart Drama Group;
First Place Confined – (Commercial Hotel Cup) – Kings of the Kilburn High Road;
Best Actor Open ((HJ Travers Award) J.C. Bonar (Butt Drama Circle);
Best Actress Open (Eoin Carney Award) – Ashley O’Neill, Prosperous;
Best Producer Open (John Stephens Cup) – Sean Byrne, Butt Drama Circle
Third Place Open (Jim Flynn Award) – Ballyshannon Drama Society;
Second Place Open (CJ King Award) Prosperous Dramatic Society;
Winner Open Section – Maureen Gallagher Award) – Butt Drama Circle;
Patsy Croal Blue Riband – Butt Drama Circle.

‘Oleanna’ – Prosperous (March 17th ’23, Open)

On Friday night at the drama festival, Prosperous Dramatic returned to the Abbey stage with their production of ‘Oleanna’ by David Mamet, in the Open section (photos: John Fallon).