Ballyshannon Drama festival attracted the biggest attendances to the event in many years and was “thriving despite the recession” the final night audience were told by Festival Director John Travers.
Celebrating its 60th year, the festival attracted huge numbers on all nine nights and adjudicator Colin Dolley said the standard of work presented every night was “extremely high”.
Although selected by the season ticket holders for their audience award, there was a slight sense of disappointment in the theatre when Mr Dolley announced that Letterkenny Music and Drama Group had been pipped for the overall Blue Riband by the narrowest of margins by Cornmill Theatre from Carrigallen who presented The Seafarer in the Open Section.
However, 39 Steps swept the boards in the Confined Section, winning four categories, Audience Award; Best Stage Manager, Best Actress and Best Producer.
John Travers pulled off a nice surprise on the final night when he revealed that special guest Charlie McGettigan who thought he was there to present the prizes - was announced as the 2012 Hall of Fame inductee.
McGettigan, a former best actor winner in 1993 with Drumshanbo, has had a life-long association with Ballyshannon Drama Festival and the Abbey Centre.
John Travers revealed that McGettigan made his acting debut on the Abbey Stage in a 1968 production of Little Red Riding Hood and had never looked back!
The former Eurovision Song Contest winner was clearly chuffed at the presentation and recalled how he had brought his sweetheart, now his wife, on their first date to a drama festival presentation by Chekov of the Cherry Orchard!
Paddy Campbell, chair of the local drama society, thanked all those who had attended and he paid tribute to the Donegal Democrat for their superb 16 page supplement marking the 60th anniversary of the festival.
Patsy Croal Blue Riband, sponsored by Celtic Weave China: Cornmill Theatre;
Winner (Open), Seafarer, Cornmill;
Best Producer (Open), Sean McIntyre, Seafarer;
Best Actress (Open), Jenny Ni Lucas, Bradan Theatre;
Best Actor (Open), Ray Hackett, Cornmill;
First Place (Confined), 39 Steps, Letterkenny Drama and Music Group;
Best Producer (Confined), Pluncéad O Fearraigh, Letterkenny Drama and Music Group;
Best Actress (Confined), Elaine Gillespie, Letterkenny Drama and Music Group;
Best Actor (Confined), Kian Mannion, Phoenix Players, Tubbercurry;
Outstanding Achievement by a young person: Niall Hannigan, Lifford Players;
Lighting, Yellow Moon, Wexford;
Best Stage Manager, Fioan McDaid, Letterkenny Drama and Music Group;
Best Set, Cornmill Theatre;
Audience Award, Letterkenny Drama and Music Group.