Sliabh Aughty Drama Group win top honour at Clare Drama Festival

Sliabh Aughty Drama Group are certainly no strangers to success and this year’s Clare Drama Festival was no different. Speaking to David Byrne following events in Scariff, the group’s PRO Ruth O’Hagan said all those involved are relishing the moment ahead of a busy schedule.

A selection of the Sliabh Aughty Drama Group cast and crew with adjudicator, Paul Brennan at the Clare Drama Festival in Scariff. Photo credit: Eoin O'Hagan

THERE was plenty of drama in Scariff recently as renowned Sliabh Aughty Drama Group’s take on the classic Sive received top honour at the highly-regarded Clare Drama Festival.

Amateur by name only, the East Clare drama group wowed the large audiences in fitting tribute to the 60th anniversary of the first staging of Sive by Listowel Drama Group at the Clare Drama Festival in 1959.

The recognition, says Sliabh Aughty Drama Group PRO, Ruth O’Hagan, completes a very successful couple of weeks for those on stage and behind the scene.

“From a local perspective it was a very exciting night,” she said. 

“On the circuit we did five competitions and Scariff was our last one.

“We got two firsts, a second, one third and our lead actor, Noel Hogan, won four best actor awards.

“Alan Sparling as director and Eavan Brennan as supporting director won two festivals for best director.

“We got most entertaining play in a festival, Geraldine Condren won best supporting actress in Claremorris and Edel O’Grady won best supporting actress in Clare Drama Festival in Scariff.

“We got a good few trophies and we were delighted with ourselves,” added Ms O’Hagan.

Alan Sparling, Sliabh Aughty Drama Group director and Eavan Brennan supporting director with Eimear McNamara of Clare Drama Festival Photo: Eoin O’Hagan

Following the hectic few weeks, the Sliabh Aughty crew returned closer to home in what Ruth believes was a “very fitting” and a “very appropriate” tribute to John B Keane’s showing of the play at Clare Drama Festival, 60 years ago. 

“It was very fitting and a really, really good feeling,” she explained. “It was tough work – it is a tough play but we gave it our best.”

There was certainly no rest for the wicked as, fresh from their recent success, members of Sliabh Aughty Drama Group took to the stage on Sunday, April 7, to showcase Sive during the All-Ireland Drama Finals as part of this year’s West Clare Drama Festival in Doonbeg.

Awaiting the conclusion of the nine-day competition, the East Clare crew are hoping to at least repeat last year’s top five placing when they were rewarded for their staging of ‘Moonglow’ by Kim Carney in Wicklow.

“It is all go but that’s classic.

Cast and crew of Sliabh Augthy Drama Group at Clare Drama Festival in Scariff. Photo: Eoin O’Hagan

“We were in the All-Ireland last year as well with ‘Moonglow’ and we placed fifth in the All-Ireland last year so you never know what way the cookie will crumble this year – it is all to play for.

“We have a really good show, we’ve had packed houses every night and we’ve had excellent response from the audiences and the adjudicators.

“We’ve come out of every single festival doing well awards wise so essentially we’re very happy,” said the confident PRO.

This year’s staging, Sive, is produced and directed, with the help of supporting director Eavan Brennan, by award winning actor Alan Sparling, who picked up ‘Best actor award’ in the All-Ireland Drama finals last year.

The successful group, an amalgamation of Sliabh Aughty and Scariff Drama Group, had previously planned to take a break during this year’s festival tours but felt the desire to mark Sive’s anniversary.

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