It may be centred around the tragic demise of the Titanic, but this year’s production from the Mullahoran Drama and Variety Group has successfully sailed its way right into the heart of Ireland’s largest arts celebration, Fleadh Cheoil na hEireann (August 10 - 20).
On August 13, the curtains will rise at the Town Hall, Cavan, for a feast of narration, drama, dance and song, all delivered by the local community of Mullahoran, County Cavan.
“We offered to do the Fleadh Cheoil and they were eager to accept us. We brought them out to see our set and they learned about the reputation that the production had built up,” said Eilish Beglan of Mullahoran Drama and Variety Group.
She added: “We are all very excited to be part of the Fleadh. It will showcase Mullahoran and the talent we have. The night is also a tribute to Sean McGuire, a renowned Cavan fiddle player.”
Scripted and narrated by Sheila Reilly ‘Tribute To The Titanic’ marks one of many successful productions by this group since it reformed in 2000. On that occasion they dedicated their opening production, ‘The 00 Show’, to the late Michael Reilly, Mullahoran..
“This year’s show originated as a community radio programme,” said Con Harton, a member of the drama group.
He added: “Cavan Community Radio did a pilot project on how to train local people on putting together a programme to showcase their local area.”
The Mullahoran group chose the tale of the Titanic and local Kilcogy lady, Julia Smyth, a survivor of that fatal night in April 1912.
“Julia’s niece still lives in Mullahoran. Her name is Molly Harton,” said Eilish.
She added: “Furthermore, Henry Harton, Molly’s son, is musical director of ‘Tribute To The Titanic’.”
Following the success of the radio programme, the group decided to create a stage production based upon their Titanic tale.
“It was a huge community achievement and Sheila (Reilly) was a very large part of that and we would like to thank her,” said Eilish.
The tribute show opened in April of this year and with it came three nights of capacity crowds at the Mullahoran Parochial Hall.
“The production is divided into different sections looking at first class, second class, third class and the eventual sinking of the ship,” said Eilish.
The tragic tale is told via a mixture of music, song and dance and incorporates particularly poignant moments such as the singing of the ‘Ballad of John Williams’ and the playing of the ‘Lonesome Boatman’.
“We tried to keep the music authentic, to the early 1900s, but some pieces we included because they were very fitting,” said Con.
Authenticity was also achieved in creating a Titanic-like environment for the audience.
“We dressed up the hall to look like the ship and we hung life-buoys all around the walls,” said Con.
He added: “The set was another great achievement. It was designed by local man, Sean Cullen. They had depth and dimension so you really felt that you were looking at the ship.”
In tandem with the production, Mullahoran National School (NS) exhibited their Titanic project which was developed under the supervision of teacher, Sarah Cullen. Among the items exhibited was a miniature replica of the ship.
It is the group’s hope to bring ‘Tribute To The Titanic’ to one or more Longford venues in the near future. Further details will be published in the Longford Leader.
Tickets for the Fleadh Cheoil showing of the production (August 13) are priced at €10 each and this includes admission to the Sean Maguire tribute night.