Donegal Bay and Blue Stacks Festival opens this weekend

The 11th annual Donegal Bay and Blue Stacks Festival commences this weekend with art exhibition openings in Donegal Town, Glencolmcille and Ballyshannon as well as music and theatre performances in Bundoran, Ballybofey and Ballyshannon. The Festival runs from Saturday, October 1 to Sunday, October 9 and includes a high quality programme of theatre, visual arts, readings, events for children and schools, carnival workshops and performance as well as the best of traditional, classical, country and rock music.

The 11th annual Donegal Bay and Blue Stacks Festival commences this weekend with art exhibition openings in Donegal Town, Glencolmcille and Ballyshannon as well as music and theatre performances in Bundoran, Ballybofey and Ballyshannon. The Festival runs from Saturday, October 1 to Sunday, October 9 and includes a high quality programme of theatre, visual arts, readings, events for children and schools, carnival workshops and performance as well as the best of traditional, classical, country and rock music.

Exhibitions in Donegal Town and Glencolmcille

Donegal Town artist James McManus will open his Exhibition of New Works at his new temporary Gallery on Castle Street, Donegal Town, Friday at 6pm while the Meitheal Ealaíne group of Glencolmcille-based artists open their new group show at their Gallery in Cashel Saturday night at 8pm. Meitheal are tapestry artists Margaret Cunningham and Deborah Stockdale, painters Ana Stromberg, Michael Doherty and Tom McLaughlin, and photographer Rik Walton. They invite everyone to come along and enjoy the work which will be open to the public every day throughout the Festival ( Saturday and Sundays included), 1-6pm.

Minister to Open Abbey Centre Exhibition

The Festival is honoured that the Minister of State at the Department of Arts, Heritage and An Gaeltacht, Mr. Dinny McGinley TD, has agreed to open Kerry artist Michael Flaherty’s major exhibition of new works, Ballyshannnon - Bridging The Past and The Present, at The Abbey Arts Centre on Saturday night at 7.30pm.

The exhibition has come about on the initiative of the Abbey Arts Centre who earlier this year invited Flaherty – a regular visitor to Ballyshannon in the 1980s - to return and chronicle in his own distinctive style, the historic landmarks, the visible, the tranquil and the quiet secret places of ‘Ireland’s Oldest Town’.

Flaherty’s work has been described by critics as bringing to mind aspects of ‘Vincent Van Gogh, Paul Henry and Seán McSweeney’ (Irish Times) and displaying ‘the richness of Jack B. Yeats’ (National Gallery of Ireland). His wonderful portraits of Ballyshannon literally paint the town in a new light. They may be enjoyed at The Abbey Centre, Monday to Friday, 11am-4pm daily.

Glenveagh Suite is Festival Opening Concert

The opening concert event of this year’s Donegal Bay and Blue Stacks Festival is a special performance – produced by the Abbey Arts Centre - of the late Margaret McGinley’s The Glenveagh Suite, the much loved Ballyshannon composer and teacher’s musical tribute to Glenveagh, in remembrance of the infamous Derrveagh Evictions, which took place 150 years ago this year.

The performance will take place in The Abbey Centre, directly after the Opening of Michael Flaherty’s Exhibition, on Saturday night at 8.30pm. Admission is FREE but it is advisable to Book in Advance at the venue, Tel. 071 985 1375, to ensure your seat.

The original Glenveagh Suite was first performed at Glenveagh Castle in September 1989 and this new production has been brought together and arranged by pianist Marie Askin working with an ensemble of hugely talented musicians, singers, dancers and actors from Ballyshannon and further afield, many of whom are former students of the composer, including: singer Shauna Mullin, fiddlers John McNamee and Damien McGeehan, guitarist Seanan Brennan, cellist Catherine McHale, dancer Ciara Campbell and the Rossnowlagh Choral Singers under the direction of Angela Currid, together with actors Tracy Ferguson and Conor Carney.

The performance also features additional script by Rossnowlagh playwright Soinbhe Lally who has written a new narrative for the character of Cornelia Adair, landlord John George Adair’s American-born wife, the part of whom will be played by Tracy Ferguson. Actor Conor Carney will offer a contemporary account of the social and political context of the time, reading selections from William Allingham’s impassioned and highly charged narrative, Laurence Bloomfield in Ireland: A Modern Poem, published in 1864.

Award Winning Boxing Drama in Ballybofey

Festival Opening night at the Balor Arts Centre in Ballybofey sees Aonghus óg McAnally’s star-turn performance as a hurried young boxer on the comeback trail in Fight Night, this Saturday night, from 8.30pm. To mark the occasion, excellent Group Booking Discount Rates are available to Boxing Clubs and Sporting Clubs in general and to members of the Boxing fraternity, through the Balor Arts Centre directly on 074 913 1840.

McAnally, the grandson of the late, great Donegal–born actor Ray McAnally (The Mission, My Left Foot, A Very British Coup), plays the part of Danny Coyle Jnr, who storms away from the ring minutes before a crucial fight and now years later, older and wiser, is offered one shot at making up for lost time and mending some sundered relationships in the process.

Set in a training gym, this fast-paced and engaging solo performance combines intense physicality with sharp Dublin wit. McAnally spends the bulk of the show performing the rituals of a boxer in training, honing his body in preparation for the fight that he hopes is going to define his career. He skips, jogs, does press-ups, and shadow boxes with weights - all for real - in a storytelling experience that will leave audiences both exhausted and exhilarated.

Fight night was first performed at the 2010 Dublin Fringe Festival where the show was a sell-out success, won a Bewley’s Little Gem Award and McAnally took the Fringe Award for Best Actor.

Tickets, priced €15 /€12 are Now Booking from the Balor Arts Centre, Tel. 074 913 1840. This show contains Strong Language and is Suitable for 14 yrs +.

Rare Groove in Bundoran

This weekend sees the culmination of the Euro Surf 2011 Championships in Bundoran and the Festival is delighted to continue its support of Mark Gegan’s brillliant Rare Groove Funk Orchestra by highlighting their show at The Chasin’ Bull in Bundoran on Festival Opening Night (Saturday) from 10.30pm.

The members of this Donegal and North-West based ensemble have performed with an impressive array of artists and bands such as Kila, Asian Dub Foundation, Chuck Berry, Primal Scream and The Republic of Loose. With a line-up that features horns, vocals, guitars, bass, hammond organ, drums and percussion, the Rare Groove repertoire is intoxicating blend of jazz, funk, soul, blues, reggae and hip-hop. In addition to their own original material, the band also perform their own unique re-stylings of classic Nirvana, Radiohead and The Police tunes as well as a selection of Miles Davis and John Coltrane standards.

Brien Friel Play in Glenties.

The Donegal Bay and Blue Stacks Festival continues until Sunday night next, October 9th. when the final Festival event will be a performance by An Grianán Theatre in association with Workhouse Theatre of Brian Friel’s ‘Aristocrats’ , at Glenties Community Centre at 8.30pm.

For additional details of the Festival Programme, please see the Festival Advertisement elsewhere in this week’s issue of the Donegal Democrat or log onto the Donegal County Council website www.donegal.ie.