Westport Town Hall Theatre will have its official opening ceremony with the Minister of State for Tourism and Sport, Michael Ring TD on Friday 12th June at 2pm. It has been a long road, but the plans and laborious redevelopment are finally over the final hurdle and the board of directors are delighted that Minister Ring, a Trojan supporter of the project, will be on hand to cut the ribbon and join in the celebrations of this special opening.
Speaking ahead of the Event Minister Ring said: ‘I am delighted to see Westport Town Hall coming back into public use as a modern theatre, which will be an immense asset to the Octagon, and will add to Westport’s tourism infrastructure. There has been a great community effort that has gone into the development over the last ten years, which is worth almost €4 million to Westport.’
Chairman of Westport Town Hall Ltd., Mr Noel Kavanagh, outlined what patrons can expect from what he highlighted as being a testament to the strength and support of the wider community, local businesses and the Parish of Westport:
“It has been a lengthy process, long hours have been spent by so many dedicated people over many years to restore this fantastic facility to our town. The Hall has undergone a most significant redevelopment that will deliver a fully functional, modern equipped theatre. Additional rooms and spaces within the venue are intended to be used for exhibitions, community meeting rooms, workshop facilities and a general social development space for all ages. The possibilities for Westport Town Hall are endless and the board look forward to integrating the venue back into the Westport Community – without that community support, and indeed the support of our Minister, Mayo County Council, Fáilte Ireland & The South West Mayo Development Company – we simply would not have been able to deliver on this redevelopment.”
Westport Town Hall has been at the cultural heart of Westport since first opening its doors to the public in the early 1900s. Located centrally on the Octagon, it has been home to many of the town’s active arts, community and voluntary organisations. The hall was last refurbished in 1973 and was, until its closure on Health and Safety grounds in 2008, a significant part of the Westport Community and performing arts base.
The entire building will be celebrated and filled with various impromptu performances, exhibitions and demonstrations that promise to highlight the reinvention of a community and performing arts space to the heart of Westport. The venue will see world-famous Traditional Musician and adopted son of Westport, Matt Molloy, platform as the very first performance on the new stage. Matt will be joined by Westport native & harp virtuoso Laoise Kelly, who has fond memories of going to community events in Westport Town Hall as a youngster!
Additional performances will continue into the afternoon and early evening with the Comhaltas Junior Branch, The Westport Children’s Choir, Freda Ni Giolla Chatháin, Maria Kelly, The Youth Hip Hop Dance Group, Last Nights Session with Ulcan Masterson and Brian Duffy and St Patrick’s Drama group playwright Séamus McNally providing a welcome prelude to the group staging their world premier of his play “Soft Ground Soul” from Sunday June 14th.
Throughout the building, local artists such as Breda Burns, Michael McLaughlin, Michelle Ní Duinn, Tina & Paula Heraty, Ginnie Gibbons, Roger Harley & The Octagon Quilters will showcase some fine pieces that promise to inspire and compliment the venue.
Well known Nature of Ireland and Swift conservationist Lynda Huxley will be offering detailed insight to the Swift Box Conservation project which was in fact built into Westport Town Hall during its restoration, making the Hall the first building in Ireland to incorporate the Swift Boxes into its structure.
Local historian Brónach Joyce will be on hand to take patrons back in time to the history of Westport and Westport Town Hall – a heritage building. Fiona Keane will be on hand to demonstrate her plans to facilitate youth performing arts and creative writing workshops, as part of a community initiative being developed by Westport Town Hall and Mayo County Council.
The programme of events that will lead Westport into an exciting summer will kick off with Workshops, exhibitions and a concert organised by The Westport Folk and Bluegrass Festival on Saturday June 13th. Subsequently and for 4 nights from Sunday 14th through Tuesday 16th & Saturday 20th June, St Patrick’s Drama Group will reclaim their stage with the world premiere of local man Seamus McNally’s play, “Soft Ground Soul”, directed by Liz Browne.
The emphasis on local talent will continue its momentum on Wednesday 17th June as The Legend of Gráinne Mhaol conquers the venue and takes residency every Wednesday and Sunday night for the summer with a rip-roaring, high-energy theatrical show of traditional music, dance and vocals that promises to raise the roof of Westport Town Hall Theatre. Additional unique performances confirmed for the venue are The Mayo Concert Orchestra on Friday June 19th, while popular local 7-piece acapella and traditional music maestros “Coda” will take to the stage on July 3rd, as well as special performances on subsequent dates by The Mayo School of Ballet & Westport Children’s Choir…..and these are just the tip of the ice-berg!
Full details on all performances & events, including those by professional artists set to play the stage, such as the Nashville-based Willis Clan, Michelle Lewis, Lisa Canny, Don Baker, The 4 Of Us & Mick Flannery are available on the newly developed website. Tickets for all booked events are available online at www.westporttownhall.ie and from the venue box office 098 28459.