Drama Groups in Charlestown - The War Years in Co. Mayo

During the War years, 1939 to 1945, the Charlestown Little Theatre Group produced Irish plays. Rev. Patrick Higgins was the leading influence in all productions during this period. He encouraged them to enter festivals and so they did.

Fine actors such as Val Harrison, Jim and Kay Guinane, Roddy O'Connor, Francie and Sean Walsh, Mona Frain, Tommy Murphy, and Phil Smith, performed in Plays such as: Dust of the Earth, and many others and showed great resourcefulness. About this time Olive Gallagher joined, daughter of Bill, who acted in the Irish Play, 'An Doctur', performed in 1905.

As the years moved on, they performed in the Western Drama festival and the Bundoran Festival in 1953. On one occasion Jim Guinane wrote a complete act in one play, when the third act of an out of print three-act play, was lost.

They then entered the first All-Ireland Drama Festival in Athlone. They won it hands down, and Mrs Jim Butler won the Gold medal, as the best actress of the Festival.

Since then they added cups and gold medals. Olive Gallagher won a gold medal at Bundoran and tied for the same award in the Mayo Drama Festival, a record bettered only by Paddy Henry's performance with two gold medals. More was to come, and I will deal with Charlestown's first Pantomime in the next article.

Cathal Henry 2014

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