From early next week, the Donegal Bay and Blue Stacks Festival programme will be widely available in towns and villages throughout south and south west of the county. This year’s event runs from Friday, September 28 to Sunday, October 7 and includes a packed programme of theatre, music, exhibitions, readings, carnival and childrens’ events as well as a special one-day seminar at The Dolmen Centre, Portnoo, celebrating life and achievements of renowned Irish American art curator and gallery director, James Johnson Sweeney (1900 –1986), the son of Patrick M. Sweeney of Beagh, Ardara (on Sat., October 6 ).
A strong and enticing programme has always been at the heart of the festival and this year is probably its most appealing yet. The programme opens at the Balor Arts Centre, Ballybofey on Friday night, September 28 with Dublin group Company D’s riveting production of David Mamet’s Oleanna and continues on Saturday night at The Abbey Arts Centre, Ballyshannon with a special Festival Opening Night presentation of Dark Daughter’s Anna Katherine Kelly – The Story of a Titanic Survivor, on Saturday, September 29.
Meanwhile, the Balor Rep Theatre Company will bring their brilliant new production of the hit Australian play, Long Gone Lonesome Cowgirls, to The Abbey Arts Centre, Ballyshannon on Wednesday, October 3, The Foresters Hall, Killybegs on Saturday, October 6 and Glenties Community Centre on Sunday, October 7. Set in the Australian outback, this hilarious show is about two very different women whose unlikely friendship is based on a love of country music. It drew standing ovations from hugely appreciative audiences during its premier performances at the Balor Arts Centre at the end of August.
Donegal Drama Circle have been a part of the Festival since the outset and this year they will stage Neil Simon’s classic comedy, The Odd Couple, for three nights at The John Bosco Centre, Donegal Town from Monday to Wednesday, October 1 – 3.
The festival music programme will include a very exciting double-bill on Saturday, September 29 at the Balor Arts Centre with Scullion and The Henry Girls, a night with Boston bluegrass band Session Americana hosted by Cumann Chultúrtha Dhún Cheann Fhaola at McIntyre’s Bar, Dunkineely on Thursday, October 4 and a special festival show by hugely popular late 1980s Ballyshannon band The Wild Herrings (plus the very popular Ragamuffins) at The kicking Donkey, Bundoran, also on Thursday, October 4.
As part of Donegal County Council’s on-going Donegal Diaspora and Donegal Gathering projects, the performance by The Wild Herrings will be broadcast live via the internet and may be enjoyed by communities of Donegal people throughout the world.
For more on the festival, see next week’s Democrat.