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Magic of theatre returns to Gougane Barra venue

July 12th, 2016 11:16 PM

By Kieran O'Mahony

Neil Lucey of Gougane Barra Hotel (left) with his family – Jane, Katie, Ali and Conor. Neil is one of the driving forces behind ‘Theatre by The Lake' which makes a welcome return to the hotel this year.

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SOMETIMES it’s good to take a break and take stock of where things are going. And that’s exactly what the team behind the popular ‘Theatre by the Lake’ in Gougane Barra did. But now, after a break of two years and with a little bit of tweaking here and there the successful event is back, brighter than ever with an exciting programme of events.

Running from July 14th to 31st, Neil Lucey and his team have come up trumps for this summer’s programme, which will be held in a custom-built marquee on the grounds of Gougane Barra Hotel. From one-man shows like God has no Country to musical delights with the Máirtín O’Connor’s Band the return of Theatre by the Lake will indeed be a joy for those who missed it sorely.

‘We started this back in 2005 and as we grew the projects grew and from 2010 to 2013 we were getting very large projects in a very large marquee. What we wanted to do is re-invent it, make is a bit smaller and tidier and bring back the magic and I think we are after succeeding in this,’ said Neil Lucey, who is manager of Gougane Barra Hotel.

‘We took the time out to see if we could re-invent it again and start from scratch. The costs involved are always large and we have got support from Cork County Council and the Heritage Council on this one. It’s obviously been a help and this summer’s event is also a shorter run, running at just two and a half weeks.’

When it came to actually programming the event Neil and his team looked at the very essence of the traditions in Gougane Barra like storytelling and stories.

‘You have all these traditions here in this area so we were looking for more earthy projects. Frank O’Connor was one of the ones we looked at because he used to stay here in Gougane Barra in the 1930s, where he was a regular visitor to the Tailor and Ansty. Because of the era we’re going into, it happened by chance that the second play that came on stream, The Big Fellow is also a Frank O’Connor story and it’s after working out as a great project,’ added Neil.

One of the other highlights of this summer’s programme is the Máirtín O’Connor Band concert on July 31st with special guests Nell Ní Chróinín, Conal Ó Ghráda and Colm Murphy.

‘Again this area is known for great traditional music and this is going to work well. We have the likes of Nell – who’s having huge success at the moment – and Conal joining Máirtín for the concert. Colm Murphy too has connections with Gougane as his father is the stonemason Seamus Murphy, and it’s he who carved the stone of Tailor and Ansty.’

‘It’s actually more theatre than music and there are two early shows on July 14th and 16th of The Aran Islands based on the journals of JM Synge. It’s a one-man show starring actor Brendan Conroy and is a wonderful mix of tragedy, comedy and mystery.’

Another highlight is God has No Country starring Donal Courtney, which plays for one night only on July 17th. It tells the story of Kerryman Monsignor Hugh O’Flaherty and his life-saving efforts during World War II.

‘In 2013 we had Tom Barry’s Guerilla Days in Ireland and that was a big project. Neil Pearson from GDI productions was involved in this and he’s been the consultant on board,’ said Neil.

In a purpose-built marquee that seats 120 people, Theatre by the Lake is a small intimate venue, which works well for these forthcoming productions. 

The hotel is also offering overnight packages, which include dinner and admission to the shows.

‘The feedback from people who attended shows down through the years was always positive so we’re delighted to bring it back this summer.’ concluded Neil.

‘Theatre by the Lake’ runs at Gougane Barra Hotel from July 14th to 31st. See www.gouganebarrahotel.com for more information on tickets and bookings or call the hotel on 026-47069.

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