Portumna Festival keeps arts flag flying despite setbacksSeptember 6, 2012 - 7:00am
Costume designer Joan Bergin, whose film credits include My Left Foot, In the Name of the Father and Dancing at Lughnasa, will officially open this year’s Shorelines Arts Festival in Portumna on Thursday, September 20. The event will also feature local Omna Singers.
Joan Bergin’s presence at the festival is particularly apt, given that she has strong links with Dublin’s Focus Theatre, which is being celebrated in this year’s Shorelines, says Festival Director Noelle Lynskey.
Portumna’s Festival is a voluntary event, and it is taking place despite cutbacks and a lack of promised government funding, according to Ms Lynskey of the Portumna Arts Group, which is organising the festival. She and the group are grateful to business sponsors and local friends, whose support has ensured that the event can continue.
The Tune Makers, featuring accordion player Máirtín O’Connor, guitarist Dave Flynn and American fiddler Liz Carroll, will be in concert on the opening night, September 20 at 8.30pm. The show, in Portumna’s Church of Ireland, will include the performers’ own compositions and those of East Galway musicians, Paddy Fahey, Finbarr Dwyer and the late Vincent Broderick.
Galway poet Rita Ann Higgins will give a reading at Shorelines on Saturday, September 22 at 8pm in The Church of Ireland’s Saturday Show. She will be joined by Portlaoise born poet and broadcaster Pat Boran, who is also facilitating workshops during the Festival. The Saturday Show will also see the debut Portumna appearance of a new group No Strings Attached. They offer a mix of vocals and music, with unique arrangements and vocal harmonies. Darren de Burca, guitarist and singer, will also perform at this event.
Those attending all the concerts are advised to come early as seating in the Church of Ireland is limited.
Visitors to that Church will have an extra treat during the Festival with Tapestry – A Flower Festival designed by Richard Haslam. Richard has over 30 years’ experience in the floristry trade and is a multi-medal winner in Chelsea, Hampton Court and Bloom.
Dramatists are being celebrated at Shorelines with a retrospective on the writings of Declan and Mary Elizabeth Burke-Kennedy, founder members of Dublin’s Focus Theatre Company in Dublin in 1967.
They are still writing and producing plays, novels and poetry. Actors from the Focus, including Tom Hickey, Michael Ford and Bairbre Ní Chaoimh will take part in an evening of readings and performances, curated by writer, poet and director, Neil Donnelly.
Local drama is marked with the launch of Voices in the Loft, a new book documenting history of 60 years of Portumna Players, illustrated with photos of early and recent productions. The book was compiled by local author Aideen O’Reilly whose interest in preserving the history of one of Ireland’s most enduring amateur drama groups began with a search through her late father’s files. Members of Portumna Players will stage The London Vertigo, a one-act drama for adults during the Festival, as well as a series of comic sketches. There will also be children’s drama with The Upside Down Twits, based on the Roald Dahl story.
For more, read this week's Connacht Tribune.