05 Dec 2021

Local actor AIMS for Killarney awards

John Kelly. Photo: Michelle Ghee.
Longford actor John Kelly is preparing for this weekend’s Association of Irish Musical Society (AIMS) Awards, sponsored by HB Ice Cream.

Longford actor John Kelly is preparing for this weekend’s Association of Irish Musical Society (AIMS) Awards, sponsored by HB Ice Cream.

A member of St Mel’s Musical Society for 35 years, John will make his way to Killarney this weekend, having been nominated for the Spirit of AIMS/Adjudicator’s Special Award for his role as Andrew Carnes in Oklahoma!

John, who has been in every show performed by the society since 1978, wasn’t expecting the nomination. The St Mel’s stalwart explains that it was not something he was even thinking of. “Our director Leonard Anderson was directing a show in Banbridge, Co. Down and a group from our society went to see the show. Then I got this phonecall from Banbridge and they told me I’d been nominated.”

John is no stranger to the AIMS awards, having been nominated twice before: once in 2001 and again in 2003. He’s looking forward to this year’s event, saying; “it’s a great weekend, a great gathering of all musical societies”.

“I’ll enjoy Killarney! I’m thrilled to have been nominated, and I’m taking it as a good reflection of the society.”

John’s entrance to the world of musicals was somewhat sudden, he recalls. The director at the time was looking for male actors to appear in the show, and John and some friends plucked up the courage to audition in what was, at the time, Andy Byrne’s on Dublin Street, Longford. “We were all standing outside, I think there were three of us” John recalls, saying that they couldn’t agree on who should go in first, so they decided to make the entrance together. “I burst through the door, and looked behind me, and I was alone” John explains, but he hasn’t looked back since.

Though he is delighted with his nomination, John admits that the best thing for the society was the seven sold-out performances of Oklahoma!, showing just how far the society has come. “I’m enjoying seeing the society developing and improving” he says, adding that it’s great to see more and more young people getting involved in the society. “You feel the future of the thing is going to be secure” he explains, “that they’ll make it into something better, something stronger. Longford really needs a society likes this.”

After 35 years with the society, John intends to continue performing for the forseeable future. “I really enjoy it” he says “it has to be enjoyable or else why would you do it?”

The AIMS Awards Gala Banquet Presentation Ceremony will take place on Saturday night next, June 15, in the INEC, Gleneagle Hotel, Killarney. For more information visit

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