Big Beautiful & Oldest Woman subjects for local theatre/opera this week

2014 is coming to an end and so is Limerick’s tenure as City of Culture but there is still some great work to come so do keep an eye on the local press and social media for details.

big_beautiful_woman_156x110Two such quality productions are on this week. First up, local theatre company, Magic Roundabout premiere their new play, Big Beautiful Woman, by Darren Maher.

It will run from tomorrow (Wednesday December 10) to Saturday December 13 at 8pm nightly at the Red Cross Hall on Cecil Street. This venue was the off-site setting for the now defunct Belltable Arts Centre when it was undergoing refurbishment and it’s a great space. I’m delighted it is now a new Theatre & Performance Hub for local practitioners to develop/stage work—a purpose it was mooted for way back in 2011 but has now thankfully fulfilled.

The blurb is as follows: “Under the real shadow of a gargantuan puppet, and the figurative shadow of a looming deadline, a ‘resting’ actor and a would-be author pitch a series of increasingly bizarre narratives at each other in an attempt to find the true and historical Limerick-based story that will wow an audience and propel them to the big time.”

“They are hampered in their labours by the attentions of distractingly beautiful French people, a series of embarrassing costume malfunctions, unexpected physical exhaustion and an inability to commit to any one true story that can sum up the city that they love.”

Tickets: Adults €15/Concession €12 and all Wednesday tickets are €10. Booking on 085-2085737 or

This Friday and Saturday (December 12 and 13) The Lime Tree Theatre and Wide Open Opera will present The Oldest Woman in Limerick.

“As you casually pass an elderly woman in the street or on the bus, do you ever pause to consider the treasure trove of life experience that lies within? If her thoughts and memories could sing, what would they say? If her reflections, achievements and regrets could come to life, what would they be like? The Oldest Woman in Limerick is a unique performance celebrating the individual lives and remarkable stories of older people from the city of Limerick told through the medium of opera.”

Devised by award-winning team of Brian Irvine (music) and John McIlduff (text), this opera actually searches for the oldest woman in Limerick and in doing so meets up with scores of individuals with plenty to say.

“Everything is documented and anything might surface in the opera. Bizarre encounters, chance meetings and poignant reflections are all in the mix. Performed by a specially assembled team of singers and instrumentalists with locally based choirs, this specially commissioned opera will engage and entertain you, reflecting a great range of human emotions and celebrating the life-affirming joy of the human voice.”

The cast includes Sylvia O’Brien, Sharon Carty, Emma Nash, Rachel Croash and Limerick’s Sarah Shine.

Tickets are €25/Concessions €20 and are available on 061-774774 and


A host of theatre premiering locally this week and next week

There is a veritable feast of theatre coming up in Limerick in the next while, kicking off this very week. I’m hoping to see as much of it as possible and I hope that a well deserved audience will turn out for as many of these productions as possible. The Abbey filled a lot of seats for Sive last week so there is a hunger for theatre but supporting local work is vitally important.


The Unlucky Cabin Boy

A musical by the name of The Unlucky Cabin Boy will have its world premiere in the Lime Tree Theatre from this Wednesday, November 5 and run nightly until November 8.

Produced by the acclaimed Gúna Nua Theatre Company and directed by Paul Meade, the play was written By Mike Finn (writer of Pigtown) with music & lyrics by David Blake. Music will be performed by The Brad Pitt Light Orchestra (the band which Blake is a member of). The Unlucky Cabin Boy has a real Limerick flavour with Limerickmen Meade at the helm and Finn writing along with local band, BPLO. The blurb promises it will “be a highlight of Limerick City of Culture 2014”.

“In 1835 a ship sailed out of Limerick Docks with a cargo of emigrants bound for the New World. It never came back… It tells the true story of the wreck of the Francis Spaight and the terrible acts of desperation that took place on board.”

The cast includes: Susannah De Wrixon, Damien Devaney, Enda Kilroy and Kevin Shackleton.

Tickets are: adults €18 and students/unwaged €15. Book on  061-774774 and


Pulse IIThe first of four new pieces of work is on this Friday, November 7, as part of PULSE II. This is the “second phase of Limerick City of Culture’s Theatre Legacy Programme through which theatre makers and audiences can enjoy tasters of emerging work from established and new voices from Limerick’s theatre landscape”.

The other dates are: November 21, 29 and December 6. Each piece will last for roughly 30 minutes to be presented in the HUB @ Red Cross Hall, 36 Cecil Street—beside Tom Collins’ Pub (the Belltable was off-site in this venue while it was renovated a few years back). Each performance is followed by a reception for audience and all those involved in each work.

Whitby (November 7 @ 8pm): Directed by Joan Sheehy, Whitby is based on Bram Stoker’s Dracula – a Gothic masterpiece that has fascinated readers for over a century. Dancer, Colin Dunne and actors, Malcolm Adams and Courtney McKeon will embark on their own voyage of discovery, merging text and movement to present a haunting work in development for the inaugural perfomance of PULSE II.

Limbo (November 21 @ 8pm): Directed by Maeve Stone, Limbo sets out to ask questions around the issue of direct provision. Collaborating with dancer Angie Smalis and musician Rory Grubb In a short piece that fuses movement and live music, Limbo explores a story so close, it’s nearly impossible to see.

Everything, Sometimes (November 29 @ 8pm): Everything, Sometimes is an interdisciplinary piece directed by dance artist Nora Rodríguez in collaboration with actor Kevin Kiely Jnr. and Shane Vaughan. It is based on a personal dream where fraternal ties, death and memories are the substances of this new experimental performance.

The Weyward Sisters (December 6 @ 8pm): Directed by Donal Gallagher, in collaboration with actors Cora Fenton, Joanne Ryan and Marie Boylan, this dark comedy features three sisters, harbingers of darkness, who have had previous lives in Hesiod’s Theogony in Irish mythology and in Shakespeare’s Macbeth.
Tickets including post-show reception are €7. Booking: 087-6047262 or More information at

On The Wire

On the Wire (7)On the Wire—“caught between no man’s land and home”—a new promenade theatre production, explores what happens after a soldier returns home from World War I will run from November 11-15.

The devised theatre production from Wildebeest Theatre Company, explores a soldier’s return to Limerick after the Great War. “Inspired by real-life stories of Limerick people who left for the war, and those who were left behind, On the Wire takes the audience on an intimate, poignant journey through the aftermath of war. Written and performed by a cast of Limerick theatre artists including Mike Finn and Amanda Minihan, and directed by Terry O’Donovan”, this site-specific production will run at 6pm and 8pm daily at The Sailor’s Home on O’Curry Street.

“It’s February 1919. Jack arrives home to Limerick. The war is over but, for Jack, the battle carries on.  How can he return to his family and life back home, when he is haunted by all he has seen; all that he doesn’t want to remember, but is unable to forget?  Opening on the anniversary of Armistice Day, November 11, On the Wire is a dramatic exploration of life in Limerick at the time of the Great War.  Combining archival material—including personal stories, photos and diary entries gleaned from research by historian Eamonn T Gardiner—with original design, the impressive Sailor’s Home is brought back to life in this thought-provoking promenade performance, created to mark the centenary of World War I.”

I’ve always been fascinated to see inside this regal building. My grandmother hails from around the corner in O’Curry Place (‘the block’ as it’s referred to locally) and it’s always exciting to enjoy theatre in an unconventional space. And my grá for promenade theatre has been well documented.

The cast also includes Marie Boylan, Conor Madden and Shane Whisker. Local company, Wildebeest’s past productions include TAN, Tanalogues, A Different Animal and The Real World.

Tickets are €15/€12.00 from On the Wire is presented in association with Limerick City of Culture.

The Lighthouse Keeper

logoAnother local company, Amalgamotion, will bring its latest production, The Lighthouse Keeper, to Dance Limerick, St John’s Square, from November 11 (preview) until November 15. It will run at 8.30pm nightly with 2.30pm matinees daily from November 13-15.

“Directed by Ciarda Tobin and written by Ella Daly with dramaturgical support by Helena Enright, The Lighthouse Keeper chronicles that moment in time when life comes full circle and the parent who cared for and nurtured you in infancy needs care and nurturing in old age. The baton is passed and you become the lighthouse keeper.”

The cast includes: Aidan Crowe, Georgina Miller, Joanne Ryan and Monica Spencer.

Amalgamotion is an award winning local theatre company, founded in March 2002 and past productions include Walking Away, The Fisherman’s Son and Less than a Year. Tickets are €15/13 and available from

More information available from: This production is also supported by Limerick City of Culture.

Cuisle Poetry Fest this week, Oct 15-19

Screen Shot 2014-10-14 at 19.12.58Beginning this Wednesday and continuing until Sunday is one of my favourite annual celebrations—the Cuisle Limerick City International Poetry Festival.

I really enjoy hearing good poetry read aloud. Reading poetry by yourself is one thing but listening to a poet reading their own deeply personal work adds another dimension to it and brings it to life. I’ve had the pleasure to be at excellent readings by Theo Dorgan, Paul Durcan and Jackie Wills as well as a particularly memorable event down at the Dance Limerick venue in St John’s Square with Donald Hall, Robert Hass and Penelope Shuttle.

Donald Hall, a one-time Poet Laureate of the United States, reading at Cuisle 2009.

Donald Hall, a one-time Poet Laureate of the United States, reading at Cuisle 2009.

This year Cuisle—which is organised by a dedicated volunteer committee—is celebrating its 20th anniversary with a special five day run, October 15 to 19.

The line-up of poets and speakers features “some of Ireland’s best-loved and most celebrated poets will join guests from sister festivals across Europe”. The list includes: Caleb Brennan, Paddy Bushe, Eiléan Ní Chuilleanáin, Tim Cunningham, Nuala Ní Dhomhnaill, Veronika Dintinjana (Slovenia), Gerry Dukes, Tom French, Barry McGovern, Geraldine Mitchell, Conor O’Callaghan, Edward O’Dwyer, Iztok Osojnik (Slovenia), Sam Riviere, Shedman (John Davies from the UK), Bridget Wallace and Macdara Woods.

The festival includes writing workshops, an open mic night, special tributes to Samuel Beckett, and the launch of the annual Stony Thursday Book (this year edited by Peter Sirr). Tim Cunningham will also launch his new poetry volume. There is a substantial education programme, including readings and workshops for schools.

A composed Penelope Shuttle reading at Cuisle 2009.

A composed Penelope Shuttle reading at Cuisle 2009.

A special series of ‘Poetry in Public Places’ events honours Limerick City of Culture 2014. A Door Into The Dark features a dozen artists from Limerick Printmakers have responded to the work of poets who have read at the Cuisle Festival over the past 20 years. Lightboxes, theatrical sets, and text printed onto porcelain are only some of the methods used in this unique collaboration. Look for these along Patrick Street.

Ghost Sonata is a specially created work by Mark Whelan consisting of one long poem written on the windows of Roches Street. Read it together or read it in pieces. Each fragment resonates with its specific location, creating a special experience for each reader.

Poems on the Air is a collaboration with RTÉ Lyric FM, where recordings of poems by Cuisle Festival favourites will be played in various retail spaces throughout October.

Shedman will bring his famous travelling shed to Limerick. In his own words: “My shed is very accessible. Anyone can come in to tell me their shed stories, to bring anecdotes and poems, pictures and photos, recollections and fantasies.”

An animated Robert Hass reading at Cuisle 2009.

An animated Robert Hass reading at Cuisle 2009.

The poetry of Samuel Beckett is a special feature of Saturday’s programme. At 4pm, there will be a performance of Roundelay—a staged reading by the Fourfront Poets and at 7pm Gerry Dukes will deliver a talk on Beckett, followed by noted actor Barry McGovern performing Beckett’s poetry for stage. Gerry Dukes was a lecturer when I was a student in Mary I and he’s not just knowledgeable but quite entertaining as a speaker.

There are lunchtime readings on Thursday and Friday at 1pm (Sunday at 3pm) in the beautiful Captain’s Room at the Hunt Museum. Evening readings will take place at 69 O’Connell Street (former Belltable) on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday at 7pm.

All events are ticketed, on the door, at €5. For the complete schedule and more information, including bios and photos, see

New children’s theatre, Spun, Oct 14-16

Spun pic1

Emma Fisher, designer, writer, puppeteer and performer, and Ann Blake, composer and performer, with the Umbrella Keeper from Spun.

Theatre is a large part of The Bualadh Bos Children’s Festival, which is going on through October here in Limerick. You can find out more in my past post and on the Lime Tree Theatre website but I just want to talk about a really exciting local production coming up next week—Spun.

Spun, running from Tuesday October 14 to Thursday 16, is presented by Beyond the Bark Puppet and Installation Theatre.

Spun is a magical story of friendship and imagination, told through puppetry, animation and song, suitable for children aged 2-6 years and beyond. Have you ever wondered where the stars go during the day?  I keep them in my umbrella,’ said the Star Keeper.  Sail to sea, fly through the air, cast a star to the skies and play with turtles and giraffes…This is the wonderful world at bath-time for Ciaran, a little Irish boy, and Piedva, his friendly spider. Piedva weaves a magical web in Ciaran’s imagination and takes him on an adventure all over the world.  Where will their journey take them?”

Founded by Emma Fisher, a Limerick puppeteer and theatre designer, Beyond the Bark has garnered very good reviews for its productions like Turning Turtles and The Bright Side of the Moon. Renowned international puppeteer, Liz Walker, directs Spun, “creating a gentle introduction to theatre which will transport young audiences into a magical world of adventure and imagination”.

Aside from working in an assortment of projects all over the country, Emma has played a part in many a local theatre production over the past six years through set design, costume design and puppetry. Her work on The Revengers Tragedy, Don Juan in Hell and The Fisherman’s Son in the Limerick Theatre Hub was phenomenal and she was nominated for a prestigious Irish Times Irish Theatre Award for set design in 2009.

Screen Shot 2014-10-12 at 11.30.27I was really taken with her work on A Christmas Carol in 2012 (and I think the hundreds of kids who attended agreed) and more recently she has worked on Noyes Fludde and What Happened Bridgie Cleary.

Spun is also based on an original book by Emma and Thorey Mjallhvit H. Omarsdottir so it is obviously a very personal project.

I would be so bold as to say that Emma Fisher is one of the most creative individuals working in theatre in Limerick. We’re lucky to have her around because her vision has added a tremendous amount to the productions I’ve seen. Good luck to her and all involved in Spun!

If you and your little ones can weave your way to 69 O’Connell Street (former Belltable) this coming week, tickets are €8 and available on 061-774774 and

Events for young talkers and readers at Bualadh Bos

Screen Shot 2014-09-15 at 19.23.44It’s October and the leaves aren’t just falling but being blown off the trees. Running all this month, the inaugural Bualadh Bos Children’s Festival—organised by the Lime Tree Theatre—is getting into the swing of things.

There are lots of events, particularly theatre (read more here and here about the full programme) but also stimulating events that are designed to further engage little ones.

I’ve taken part and written about it for grown-ups but now Salon Du Chat is holding a children’s event for kids in fourth, fifth and sixth class this Saturday (Oct 11) from noon-1pm.

Salon du chat“In a world where children are told to be quiet and listen, Salon du Chat creates a place where children have their say.”

“The children are welcomed not into a theatre but into a cafe, for this event the gallery space at 69 O’Connell street is set up like a cafe.  They take a seat and are given a drink, a cookie, and a menu. But instead of ordering food they order conversation. Then for the next 30 minutes or so they chat their way through a meal that is all about talk. Salon du Chat creates an informal space for children to talk and listen to each other in a gently directed and unthreatening way. Sitting in small groups of 3–5 the children will have the chance to voice their opinion on topics that matter to them.”

It’s an interesting premise so if you have a chatterbox that age, or even a shy one who has a lot to say but needs an opportunity to express it, it might be a good way to pass an hour. The cost is €3 and includes a cookie and a drink. See for more deets.

I was a big reader (and writer) when I was a kid and Bualadh Bos has lots to offer in that area with author readings and workshops later in the month. All but one event (which happens to be sold-out) take place at 69 O’Connell Street (former Belltable).

On October 29, Sarah Moore Fitzgerald will give a workshop for over 12s called ‘Getting Started with your Writing’. From Dublin but living in Limerick, as a young child and in early adulthood, Sarah wrote fiction “constantly, furtively and under cover of darkness. Eventually, she came out as an author with the completion of her first novel, for yoReading-quotes-2ung adults Back to Blackbrick. Her second novel The Apple Tart of Hope was published in June 2014”. This workshop is open to all aspiring writers particularly useful for those writing for children and young adults.

On October 30, Andy Stanton eight to ten year olds are invited to a workshop withAndy Stanton, who is “the award-winning author of the Mr Gum series for a hilarious mixture of storytelling, mad jokes and true-life tales about being a writer. His mad wit is reminiscent of Roald Dahl and Monty Python and his crazy events are loved by children all over the world. Get ready to laugh your socks off—this is an event not to be missed!”

Also on October 30, ‘The Ideas Shop: Where Do You Get Your Ideas?’ for the over nines will take place with authors, Sarah Webb and Oisin McGann.

“The Ideas Shop is a very special interactive show presented by Oisin McGann and Sarah Webb, ideal for young readers and young writers. If you want to encourage your children or teenagers to think creatively, then this is the show for you!”

The first question writers are always asked is ‘Where do you get your ideas?’ Well, where do writers get their ideas? What inspires them to write in the first place? How do they create characters so real they practically leap off the page? Are any of their characters based on real people? How can young writers follow in their footsteps? And how does a book live on beyond the writer? During the show, the clever folk from The Ideas Shop will share all their writing secrets.”

Oisin McGann lives in Ireland and works full time as an author and illustrator. He has written and illustrated numerous books for young children, including the Mad Grandad series, The Forbidden Files series, and two short retellings of Irish legends, The Goblin of Tara and The Evil Eye. He has also produced seven Young Adult novels; The Gods And Their Machines, The Harvest Tide Project, Under Fragile Stone, Small-Minded Giants, Ancient Appetites and Strangled Silence, as well as his most recent novel, Merciless Reason.

Sarah Webb is the author of the Ask Amy Green series for readers of 10+. Her latest book is Ask Amy Green: Wedding Belles. Her books have been published in many different countries including the US, Poland, Italy and Indonesia. Ask Amy Green: Bridesmaid Blitz was shortlisted for the Irish Book Awards and Sarah is currently working on a new series for children called The Songbird Café Girls.

halloween-300x300As the spookiest time of the year approaches, Celine Kiernan will give a workshop for the over 12s on Halloween, Oct 31, called ‘Fantasy, Horror and the Supernatural: Why do we still love them?’

“For most of us today a flick of a switch can banish the darkness, and a quick internet search can reveal the science behind ‘supernatural’ phenomena. So why do we still tell ghost stories? Why do readers still hunger for monsters and aliens, when many of us no longer believe in god? Celine Kiernan explores her ongoing love affair with the fantasy genre, and tries to explain what she is looking for in her exploration of the supernatural.”

Celine Kiernan is an award-winning author of dark, complex fantasy novels for young adults. Her books, The Moorehawke Trilogy and Into the Grey have between them won: the 2009 RAI Best Book Award; been included in the White Raven Collection; short listed for the 2009 Irish Book Awards; won the 2012 CBI Book of the Year (formerly The Bisto award) and the 2012 CBI Children’s Choice Award; won the 2013 RAI Book of the Year, and been shortlisted for the Sakura Medal (English High) 2014.

Also on Halloween, author Darren Shan, “will be reading out some of the especially grisly passages from his books and answering questions from fans. All ages are welcome, but the content is most appropriate for teenagers upwards. Under 13’s should only come if they are VERY brave!”

Darren Shan was born in London but has spent most of his life in Limerick. His books, some of which include Cirque Du Freak, The Demonata and Zom-B have sold over 25 million copies across the world, in more than 30 languages.

Events involving the incredibly popular author, Judi Curtin, as well as as the puppet and book-making workshop have already sold out so get booking…no pun intended!

See the full programme at

Bualadh Bos has other exciting events and I’ll do my best to post about others soon.