In the 1970s Renmore was a fast growing suburb with many young families moving in. There were very few facilities in the area at the time. The school assembly hall was the only social centre and it was there, in the tiny kitchen, that Sean O’Malley suggested to his team mates in the local badminton club they might consider having a parish pantomime. They agreed. A group was formed and they drew up a mission statement — “To foster, encourage and assist theatrical, cultural, and artistic activities in the Renmore community, but also throughout Galway and its environs, and in so doing, to assist whatever charitable causes are deemed appropriate by the committee.”
They succeeded beyond their wildest dreams. Joe McCarthy, who had produced Tops of the Town for CIE, agreed to produce Goody Two Shoes. The project was swept along by a wonderful community spirit and on January 6 1979 the show opened in the Jesuit Hall. They were so successful that the three night run was extended to five.
Since then more than 2,000 people have taken part in what has become an annual Galway institution. For many young Renmore people it has been an important part of their growing up, whether they were involved as smurfs, dancers, singers, musicians, sets and costume makers, parents, helpers, sponsors, or just supporters. In 1980 the show was Jack & the Beanstalk. In 1981 they produced Aladdin. In 1982 they moved to Leisureland with Ole King Cole. The huge auditorium presented new challenges and they often had up to 2,000 people in the audience for matinees. Audience participation improved. The 1983 show was Sinbad; 1984, Cinderella; 1985, Grease the Musical and Sleeping Beauty; 1986, Goldilocks; 1987, Humpty Dumpty; 1988, Snow White; 1989, The Wizard of Oz; 1990, Jack & the Beanstalk; 1991, Aladdin; 1992, Mother Goose. In 1993 the Power twins took over the reins, and in 1996 the group changed venue by moving to the Town Hall where the improved technical, stage, and seating facilities further enhanced their reputation.
For 30 years now, they have been bringing fairy tales alive for Galway audiences with their infectious enthusiasm, exuberance, and talents, so it is right that they should celebrate this notable anniversary with a ball in the Radisson Hotel on Saturday February 28. It is an opportunity to come together and to revive great memories, not only for those who took part but also for those who experienced the magic of Fairyland. In keeping with their mission statement, fundraising on the night will benefit the Galway branch of Cystic Fibrosis. Tickets are available from Duggan’s Spar and Molloy’s Centra in Renmore and also from the Radisson Hotel.
Our photograph today was taken during the 1980 production of Jack and the Beanstalk and shows some of the cast backstage. In front, from the left, are Liam Glynn, Eamonn Carr, and Liam Belton. Centre row: Maeve Canavan, Mairéad Glynn, Ita Lynch, John Duggan, Margaret Duggan, and Tom Duggan. At the back are Mike Holian, Richard Ridge, Gerry Ferguson, JP Bohan, Mike Hassett, Edel McFadden, and Denis Quilty. Incidentally, if you would like to look at the history and photographs of the Renmore Panto down through the years, log on to renmore pantomime.com