Launch of 59th West Clare Drama Festival
Saturday, 7th of March, 2020
What a delight and pleasure it is for me to be with you this evening to launch the 59th West Clare Drama Festival here in Doonbeg.
If it weren’t for the Corona Virus – rumour had it that the President of the United States might do the honours to launch the festival this evening. In the event of him not being available, I’m glad to substitute even though I may not have the same colour and unique dramatic style of the loquacious man so closely associated with this hallowed ground.
Last year I loved being here for two performances in the All-Ireland finals that were hosted here and thoroughly enjoyed the plays, the famous Doonbeg welcome and the superb organisation around the whole event.
After those dizzy heights of last year you return to the more normal, yet what would still be for most communities an extraordinary 10 night festival of plays in both open and confined sections, with the winners qualifying for the finals in Ballyshannon and the Mecca that is Athlone.
Since 1962 the West Clare Drama Festival has been a constant feature of the entertainment and social calendar of now generations of local people here in Doonbeg, people all over Co. Clare and the Western Seaboard and beyond. I love the picture on your website of the original committee of 1962 and also the one of the current committee at last years All Ireland finals. We remember with great fondness and sadness one of the founding members of the festival, Canon Pat Taafe of Tubber who was buried during the week. He was a great community man here for many years in Doonbeg and we pray the light of heaven on him this evening.
Symbols of Theatre
Last year I was very taken by the decoration of the village around, the signs in the town and the refreshments hall at the interval with the great posters symbolic of theatre and drama, the two faces representing the two sides of life: comedy and tragedy. These simple yet profound symbols take us back to the founding days of Athenian theatre, 2000 years before Shakespeare himself.
The Power of Theatre
One of the great things about good theatre is that it can mirror back and deepen our understanding of the reality of our lives. It can reflect back the serious events of our lives, give meaning to them and at times also lift us beyond our concerns through raising the spirits in amusement and fun and enjoyment, through the talent of good acting and stage presentation and management.
We all need escape avenues to revamp and restore the spirit and meaningful outlets to help us objectively reflect on different aspects of life. For some this is achieved by being on the golf course in Doonbeg. For other its running the Kilkee half marathon in July. For other its crossing the Bridges of Ross or taking in the fresh air at the light house of Loop Head. For many however, their oasis is this 10 days of top class theatre and drama here in Doonbeg that is so looked forward to every year.
I am confident that this 10 days of theatre will live up to those high standards long expected and constantly delivered by the West Clare Drama Festival. Best of luck to all the wonderful organising committee, to all the drama groups taking part, to the adjudicator, Anna Walker and most of all every good wish and enjoyment to you the punters, the theatre goers who are here tonight to be entertained and edified in the sublime art that is theatre and drama at its very best.
Sincere thanks for the invitation to be with you tonight. It is with great delight and anticipation that I happily declare the 59th West Clare Drama festival launched and underway.
I hope you all enjoy the night. God bless and safe home.