The RTÉ All Ireland Drama Festival was honoured last night, Thursday April 15, at a civic reception held in the Civic Centre, Athlone. Mayor Mark Cooney paid tribute to festival director Billy Nott and his hard-working committee for not only keeping the festival in Athlone, but for maintaining such a high standard.
“Your sustained efforts have given the town a festival to be proud of and your endeavours, building upon the labours of previous committees, have contributed immensely to the cultural fabric of the town”, remarked Mayor Cooney. He continued: “The people of Athlone and its surroundings owe a huge debt of gratitude to the Amateur Drama Council of Ireland for choosing Athlone year on year as the venue of choice for this national event and the fact that our national broadcaster RTÉ is associated with it is further proof that the festival is worthy of the accolades it truly deserves.”
In response festival director Billy Nott thanked Athlone Town Council for the reception. “It is indeed a great privilege to be honoured by our civic representatives and on behalf of my committee I wish to thank the council for its unfailing support in the lead up to and during the festival. Apart from the invaluable national support we get from RTÉ, it is the local community as represented by the council, the local businesses, who have been especially supportive this year by participating in our sponsorship programme, and of course the patrons who have rallied behind the festival for almost 60 years and it is this which has made the event the success which it is,” said Billy.
The civic occasion also provided a platform to honour one of Athlone’s greatest actors and contributors to the world of drama locally. Fifty years ago, Mel O’Flynn won the Best Actress award at the All Ireland in 1960 for her part as Romaine in Agatha Christie’s Witness for the Prosecution. The play was entered by Athlone Little Theatre and was directed by Aileen Coughlan.
With just two weeks to go to opening night, the final touches are being put in place. Apart form the rich and varied programme of plays in competition, there will be a highly entertaining fringe running alongside. This comprises art exhibitions, music recitals, theatrical performances, Irish dancing presentation, theatre workshops, and street entertainment.
The All Ireland Drama Festival takes place in the Dean Crowe Theatre, Athlone from Friday April 30 to Saturday May 8.
For more information log on to www.dramafestival.ie or call the theatre box office on (090 ) 6492129.