Local drama and musical societies

If you are interesting in acting and performing and want to get involved with the local performing arts scene here are some of the companies who perform regularly at An Grianán. Keep an eye out on their social media channels and local media for news on auditions, classes and workshops.

DMEP (Donegal Music Education Partnership)

The DMEP offer instrumental/vocal tuition in all genres of music (classical, jazz, traditional, rock/pop) at reasonable rates to children and young adults. They have a number of different performing ensembles including the Donegal Chamber Orchestra, the Donegal Youth Orchestra, the Errigal Groove Orchestra and the Errigal Singers. Their annual family Christmas concert in.a well loved fixture in our festive schedule.

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Letterkenny Music and Drama Group

Cast and crew of the Letterkenny Music and Drama Group's production of The 39 Steps in 2015.

Cast and crew of the Letterkenny Music and Drama Group’s production of The 39 Steps in 2015.

One of Donegal’s most successful and prolific producers of theatre, they produce both musicals and dramas. Recent successes have include the multi award winning comedy The 39 Steps, Calendar Girls and Sister Act. They are also involved with the Letterkenny One Act Festival.

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Letterkenny Musical Society

Letterkenny Musical Society's The Mikado, spring 2008. Photo by Paul McGuckin.

Letterkenny Musical Society’s The Mikado, spring 2008. Photo by Paul McGuckin.

Produce one musical a year, always to an exceptionally high standard – usually end of February or beginning of March.

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Letterkenny Pantomime Society

The Letterkenny Pantomime Society present a panto every January at An Grianan. They take well loved fairytale classics and give them a local spin.


Lifford Players

The Lifford Players in their 2016 production of Tom Murphy's A Crucial Week in the Life of a Grocer's Assistant

The Lifford Players in their 2016 production of Tom Murphy’s A Crucial Week in the Life of a Grocer’s Assistant

One of the country’s oldest and most respected amateur theatre companies. Founded in the 1950s. Recent shows are Tom Murphy’s A Crucial Week in the Life of a Grocer’s Assistant and comedy ‘Allo, ‘Allo.

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On Cue Academy

Founded by Nora Kavanagh, On Cue offer classes in musical theatre and drama for children. They normally hold a showcase performance in June.


ZoNa Dance Co

Founded by Jessica Peoples, ZoNa Dance offer high quality training in classical ballet and dance. They normally present a showcase once a year, usually in May.

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A Terrible Beauty: Remembering 1916

A Terrible Beauty: Remembering 1916 is our short season of events marking the centenary of the Easter Rising.

We have three shows which will look at 1916 from three different perspectives. We have a dramatic reading of Kieran Kelly’s new play Beneath An Irish Sky which looks at the impact that the Rising had on Donegal. Then we have two Letterkenny performers, John D Ruddy and Brian Gillespie, starring in The Rising, a fast paced and entertaining show which looks at the events that led to 1916 including the first World War. Finally we have Left Behind,  a music concert from Michelle O’Rourke and composer Simon O’Connor which is inspired by some of the women involved in the Rising.

The British troops departing Letterkenny in 1922 following the War of Independence

British troops departing Letterkenny in 1922 following the War of Independence

Beneath An Irish Sky, Tues 22 March 2016 at 8pm Tickets: €5

How did the events of Easter week 1916 affect the people of Letterkenny and Donegal? Based on archive reports and eye witness testimonies, Beneath an Irish Sky is a fictionalised account of one man’s journey through those those turbulent times, questioning what made him pick up a gun to fight for his country and how one moment in his youth affected the rest of his life.

Written by local author and historian Kieran Kelly, Beneath An Irish Sky will be presented as a rehearsed reading featuring a cast of eight actors directed  by David Grant (Frank Pig Says Hello, A Midsummer Night’s Dream). Find out more.

Ireland 1916 2016 The Rising  with John Ruddy and Brian Gillespie March 2016 Easter

The Rising: John D Ruddy reprises his role alongside new cast member Brian Gillespie (not pictured).

The Rising, Wed 23 March 2016 at 8pm. Tickets: €15/€12

Touring nationally to great acclaim, this production features two local performers –  John D Ruddy is a Letterkenny based actor whose recent roles include Fiesta, The 39 Steps and I Would Walk These Fields Again. A native of Letterkenny, Brian Gillespie now lives in London where he is the artistic director of B-Hybrid Dance.

Described by the Irish Times, as “90 minutes of exhilarating and terrifying factual theatre”, The Rising relives the tumultuous days of the 1916 Rising through the eyes of two friendly adversaries, O’Brien, a Catholic, and Mc Keague, a Protestant. Over an action packed performance O’Brien and McKeague will tell the story of this pivotal event in Irish history in vaudeville style, with humour, song and dance, as they re-enact the Rising and the events that led to it, including World War 1. Find out more.

Simon O'Connor and Michelle O'Rourke - Left Behind: songs of the widows of 1916. An Grianan Letterkenny April 2016

Composer Simon O’Connor and vocalist Michelle O’Rourke present Left Behind: Songs of the 1916 Widows. 1 April 2016.

Left Behind: Songs of the 1916 Widows, Friday 1 April 2016 at 8pm Tickets: €15/€12

Written by composer and curator Simon O’Connor, and commissioned and presented by vocalist Michelle O’Rourke, Left Behind is a new collection of songs to mark the centenary of the 1916 Easter Rising.Drawing on the experiences of women closely connected to the conflict, including the wives of prominent rebel leaders, O’Rourke and O’Connor have created a unique suite of compositions that offer an emotional, human perspective on a narrative that is too often told in baldly male heroic terms.

Beginning life as simple vocal/piano pieces, these songs have been transformed with the addition of O’Connor’s former bandmates from celebrated Dublin rock band The Jimmy Cake.

This small ensemble brings a volatile, dramatic energy to the retelling of the stories of Lillie Connolly, Grace and Muriel Gifford, Agnes Mallin and others. Find out more.

This performance supported by Donegal County Council and the Ireland 1916 Cetenary programme.

These events supported by Donegal County Council and the Ireland 1916 Cetenary programme.

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Letterkenny One Act Festival 2014 Results

Here are the results of this year’s Letterkenny One Act Festival:


Blue Riband: Belvoir Players  The Spelling Mistake


Best Play – Open:  Belvoir Players  The Spelling Mistake

2nd-  Open: Bradán Players  Unveiling

3rd –Open: Theatre 3 The Virtuous Burglar


Best Director – Open: Chris Darcy – The Spelling Mistake, Belvoir Players

Best Actor – Open:  Simon Sweeney – Machut in The Spelling Mistake,  Belvoir Players

Best Actress – Open:  Michelle Reade – Vera in Unveiling, Bradán Players


Best Play – Confined: Phoenix Players – The Hitman

2nd  – Confined: Newtowncashel Drama Club – Cliff’s Edge

3rd – Confined : Model Box Productions – Stay Carl Stay


Best Director – Confined: Ursula Morahan – The Hitman, Phoenix Players

Best Actor– Confined: Vincent Morley – as Carl in Stay Carl Stay, Model Box Productions

Best Actress – Confined: Mary Walsh – Alice in The Hitman, Phoenix Players

Best Technical: Set Design in The Spelling Mistake, Belvoir Players

Adjudicator’s Award: Moment of theatre  at the beginning of Cliff’s Edge , Newtowncashel Drama Club


Adjudicator: Mr Larry McCluskey GIDA

Festival Secretary: Pluincéad Ó Fearraigh

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Book Launch: Kieran Kelly – Letterkenny: Where the Winding Swilly Flows

Letterkenny: Where the Winding Swilly Flows is a new and exciting history book by local writer, actor and schoolteacher Kieran Kelly.

We are very pleased to be hosting its official launch tonight at 7.30pm. In addition to the book launch we’ll also be hosting a reprise of Kieran’s short play Echoes of Time, originally produced by An Grianán to mark Letterkenny’s 400th anniversary.  Entry is free and light refreshments will be served.

Copies of the book will be available on the night in both paperback and hardback. Only 100 copies of the hardback version have been printed so we expect those to be in demand.

Throughout the book’s 22 chapters, the entire history of the town and local region have been meticulously researched and explored, starting with the formation of the valley in the last Ice Age with theories to how the town got its name, right up to the present day.

Along the way, you will find out interesting facts about the town of Letterkenny that perhaps you never knew before. For example, did you know that Charles Stewart Parnell, Michael Palin (of Monty Python fame) and Patti Boyd (ex-wife of Beatle George Harrison) all have ancestral descent from Letterkenny? Or that at one stage, over ten thousand people were packed into the Market Square to attend a monster Land League meeting at which Michael Davitt spoke? Or that Donegal won their first Ulster Junior Championship title in Glencar?

As well as meeting many colourful characters who helped shape and define what Letterkenny would eventually become, the book explores ancient Gaelic battles along the banks of the River Swilly, the formation of the modern town in the Ulster Plantation, the various families of the Ascendancy Big Houses, the rise of local government, the building of the Cathedral and various educational establishments, the local impact of World War 1, the arrival of the Port and Railway systems, twentieth century industrial and commercial development as well as in-depth history of various sports and drama clubs important in the social integration of the town’s inhabitants.

Complemented by an assortment of maps, graphs and photos, this bright and colourful publication also hosts new illustrations by local artist John Ruddy that cover these key events important in the town’s history.


Echoes of Time is Kieran’s play that looks back at Letterkenny’s plantation past. It toured local primary schools with great success in 2011.  Original cast members Nora Kavanagh and Eoghan Mac Giolla Bhride are joined by youth theatre member Patrick Quinn soon to be seen in Bugsy Malone. Like the book it contains many snippets about Letterkenny that you probably haven’t heard before.

Tues 28 October at 7.30pm. Admission is free. Light refreshments will be served.

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Writing Fiesta – Guy Le Jeune

“There are a hundred thousand stories about the Fiesta, some of them may have happened, some of them may have been altered by time and experience. Our memories are strange things. I like to think of them as a favourite book. Every time we open the pages, we scribble notes in the margins or cross out some of the printed words. We might remember strange things such as the scent of perfume or the colour of a wall, but we put other memories away and they are only triggered when we hear a piece of music or see an old photograph.

The tea ladies of Letterkenny's Fiesta Ballroom. Relive the memories at An Grianán Theatre this July!

The tea ladies of Letterkenny’s Fiesta Ballroom. Relive the memories at An Grianán Theatre this July!

“The stories I’ve heard about the Fiesta would fill an entire book, though some of them might not be printable. Some of the people I spoke to remembered the sense of magic, the faces and the music. Others remember not getting turned because of the crowds and the cigarette smoke that filled the room, stinging eyes.

“I’ve heard stories of dress hems going up and down, depending on the fashions; orders from Leo that there were to be ‘No hotpants’; the bouncers and their own code of honour; the sandwich makers and the mineral bar ladies; the terror of a lost cloakroom ticket; wives meeting husbands with two left feet; husbands meeting wives, dancing to a certain tune; the lines of couples courting out the back while the bus drivers, parked up, smoked cigarettes and watched the side-show; sailors from Scotland, Holland and Cape Verde, dancing the nights away; the musicians’ stories of playing there, either in the relief bands or as the main act, the girls all lined up at the front, staring at them; the Austins towing cut-off Morris Minors, converted into trailers; the glowing false teeth under ultra-violet lights; the bingo nights and the concerts.

The opening night of the Fiesta Ballroom, Oct 1962. Photo from the Derry People Donegal News.

The opening night of the Fiesta Ballroom, Oct 1962. Photo from the Derry People Donegal News.

“I’ve also heard stories beyond the Fiesta, of Letterkenny and how it developed; the factories and industry of Knitcraft, Gaeltex, Oatfields, Cortaulds, the Model bakery, the old port at Ballyraine. I’ve heard stories of emigration and return, the Glasgow connections, the boats that took people away and brought them home again for the summer.

“The Fiesta wasn’t just a dancehall, it was the story of this corner of Donegal, its rise and fall part of the social and economic history of the town. For the people I talked to, the Fiesta was a special place, full of sound and life; the dances and the music; the people who owned it, worked in it, played in it. It was simply the Fiesta and for those who slid and shimmied across the dance floor, it was magical.”

Guy Le Jeune is the author of Fiesta, a new drama commission co-produced by Earagail Arts Festival, An Grianán Theatre and Donegal County Council Arts Office and supported by the Arts Council of Ireland, Failte Ireland and Donegal County Council.

His previous work for An Grianán includes the reminiscence theatre project A Sense of Memory and the play On the Camel’s Hump. His short story ‘Jamesy’ was commended in the 2011 Sean O’Faolain Prize, he was shortlisted for the Fish Short Story Prize 2012 and his story ‘Small Town Removal’ was placed third in the inaugural Costa Book Awards, short story prize in January 2013. His novel extract ‘Essex Road’ was Highly Commended in the 2014 Irish Writers’ Centre, Novel Fair Competition.

Fiesta, Sat 12 to Mon 14 July 2014 at 8pm. More info here.

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