D’y’know the way I’m always blethering and dramatizing things? Well, that comes from all the artistic DNA I have. Granda Kennedy (on whose life my next novel is loosely based) was an intelligent well read man – he worked in the printing game all his life and loved books and songs and stories, poetry and plays. It was Granda Kennedy who took me for my first visit to the mobile library. Granda Kennedy who published my first poem - on the first page of the Marino Parish Newsletter – all done up in a fancy font with an elegant box around it, I was eight years old and hugely proud of myself. So that’s the maternal side – words.
On the paternal side Granda Walsh was an erudite, dapper little man. He loved theatre, Irish dancing (the real kind – none of your wigs and orange tan). He was a staunch Republican and like many young men of his time was in the IRB, was captured dutring the War of Independence and jailed in Wexford jail, he subsequently escaped. I listened wide–eyed when Dad told me tales of this hero of our country - my Grandad Walsh. Grandad was very involved in amateur drama in Wexford. My father still has numerous photos of Grandad in heavy grease paint and costume, I laugh when i look at them because he he looks so fierce in them!Grandad Walsh's treasured collection of George Bernard Shaw’s plays was left for me when the old man died.
When I started to appear in school plays myself Grandad gave me enormous encouragement – although when our group won the Shakespeare Society’s school drama festival and our picture subsequently appeared in the Irish Times, he was horrified at the untidily darned ladder in Hamlet's (aka mine)gym tights. I was disgraced in front of the nation – and in the bloody Times too! So when I spotted that Wexford Drama Group were appearing in Rush Drama Festival with their production of Bryony Lavery’s 'Frozen' I though I’d go along. Wexford Drama Group group was formed in 1966 and although Grandad was seventy at that time family lore has it that he was instrumental in setting it up – I’m not sure of this though.
By God! If he was instrumental in forming the group (we’ll pretend he was – it makes a better story) he must be lepping a jig or a reel in whatever other dimension he has been in for the last thirty odd years. I knew nothing about the play before I went and it blew me away. I’m not going to tell you the plot – because I’d ramble all over the place and you’d get fed up and stop reading! It’s not easy theatre as the play pushes you out of your comfort zones but if you ever get a chance to see a production of it I wholeheartedly recommend it.
There are four characters in the play and every actor played their roles magnificently. But I’d have to single out John Crosbie for his incredible portrayal of the serial killer Ralph.. The tension created every time he came on stage was palpable – this guy was truly the Bogey man (with a little Gollum dropped in.) The set was fabulous and worked brilliantly well on so many levels – sound effects and lighting ditto. I have seen many professional production of different plays my thirty five years of theatre going and this ‘amateur’ performance can proudly hold its own with them. Bravo Wexford Drama Group. The vibrant amateur scene in Ireland is still thriving I’m glad to see. Actually I hope to get my hands dirty myself again, I’m appearing in the female version of the Portrane/Donabate’s Drama Society production of ‘The Odd Couple’ I play Mickey – the female cop! Won’t yiz all come? All over Fingal there are drama groups and little theatres – particularly in the north county. We are truly a nation of story-tellers, whether it be through literature, music, dance, drama or film. Aren’t we deadly!
G‘wan the Irish – and stop drinking. Alcohol blocks creativity, give up the gargle and we can all shine!