Castleblayney Collaboration for A Special Festival
A collaboration of Castleblayney Regeneration, Íontas Castleblayney and Big Tom’s country memorial committee in conjunction with Oram GFC have been busy working together to create a special festival to mark some of Castleblayney and Oram’s well known residents.
The festival will be launched on Thursday 19th September in Íontas with the opening of an exhibition of photographs by Dr JJ Clarke (1879-1961) taken in the early 1900s. This will be followed by the premiere performance of ‘Dr Jack’ written by Theatre Artist in Residence, Monaghan man Declan Gorman and inspired by the life and photography of Dr Clarke.
JJ or Jack as he was known, lived a good deal of his life in York Street Castleblayney and was a much loved Doctor. However, it was only years after his death that his photography came to light eventually being donated to the National Library, where they are recognised as being amongst the finest examples of Edwardian street photography. So much so that the Clarke collection is often used to provide visual context to James Joyce’s writing about Dublin (Ulysses & Dubliners).
This exhibition will have a particular focus on photographs taken in Castleblayney and will hopefully provide much debate over the characters and places depicted. It is a unique opportunity for people to see such an acclaimed collection of photographs and to have it celebrated in JJ’s home town is a real honour.
Friday 20th September is Culture Night and will see the second project developed by Declan Gorman based on JJ Clarkes photography ‘The Streets Of JJ Clarke’ take place, this time in locations around the town including York Street, Barney’s Green & Gate Lodge. These sites will be reimagined by artists, actors and everyone of all ages who cares to join in. Old photographs of Castleblayney will come to life as people go to catch a train or trade wares in the local Market House goat auction. No pressure, but feel free to dress up in Edwardian era clothes (optional). Above all feel free to have a good time.
A proper treat this immersive theatre experience will take place between 5pm – 8.30pm and is free. Afterwards all are welcome to pop into the Scouts Hall for Culture Night Miscellany featuring local artists performing a mix of song, poetry and drama!
Friday night 20th September in Íontas will also see Country Music Legend Susan McCann perform in the Theatre and tickets are selling well already for this. For music lovers the Glencarn Hotel have dancing to Johnny Brady, tickets available at the door.
Saturday morning 21st September at 10.30am and again at 12.30pm sees local heritage enthusiast Martin Brady give a walking tour of Castleblayney highlighting the heritage and musical points of interest around the town. It leaves from the Gate House and all are welcome.
Another of the town’s famous residents renowned jazz musician Paddy Cole will be celebrated on Saturday 21st September at 3 pm with a commemorative wall mural. Commissioned by the town team, Castleblayney Regeneration committee and Monaghan Co Council, the location of the wall is almost directly opposite the Cole residence in Lake View and is at the entrance of Mindenzty Park off Muckno Street. The family friendly event will commence at 3 pm where families are encourage to bring a picnic and enjoy some Jazz music. Paddy will then unveil the wall mural art piece. The art piece was tendered by a number of artists including one from Japan! One of Ireland’s most respected musicians, Paddy Cole started his career with the Castleblayney based Maurice Lynch Band before moving on to the legendary Capital Showband. He later set up The Paddy Cole Band, who made their debut in Letterkenny on October 4th, 1974. They were managed by the Tony Loughman organisation, another famous Blayney resident. The Paddy Cole Band, which after a few changes became the Paddy Cole Superstars. The Superstars were on the scene longer than many of the other bands from the era and kept reinventing themselves to stay with the times. Today Paddy lives in Dublin with his wife Helen and is one of the best known proponents of jazz music in Ireland and tours continuously with his band playing major festivals and theatres. He also hosts his own radio show on Dublin’s FM 106.6. Paddy’s sisters still live in the town.
Oram Community Centre is where to head for a night of entertainment on Saturday night 21st September where a concert will take place featuring Tom McBride Jr. & Band, Oram’s Paddy King, Castleblayney’s Eamon Toal and a host of other singers and special guests. Tickets available from Rooney’s shop in Oram. Pubs in Castleblayney will also offer music all weekend.
Oram will host a breakfast morning on Sunday 22nd September in the centre and have also organised a Big Tom Memorial fishing competition and a football blitz. On Sunday 22nd September plans are also being put in place for a Vintage Run from Oram and for music around the Big Tom Statue at 3pm in Castleblayney to commemorate the one year anniversary of the unveiling of the statue ,commissioned by Monaghan County Council and unveiled by President Michael D. Higgins. More events will be announced in the coming weeks. A weekend where over 4,000 Big Tom fans flocked to the town to see the King of Country immortalised in bronze by sculptor Mark Richards. One of Big Tom’s most famous songs was ‘Back to Castleblayney’ so it is appropriate that the weekend is called the Back to Castleblayney Festival and that Big Tom who is synonymous with the town, is truly remembered by the people of the town and his fans who loved the singer so much, as well as Paddy Cole is closely associated with Castleblayney and Dr JJ Clarke, whom people may not be as familiar with, and whose photographic achievements will be displayed and enjoyed by young and old.