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Mungo in Cong

South of the border

Mungo in Cong

Willie McHugh

THERE’S a rich tradition of amateur drama on Moytura’s fertile plain. Hardly a day passes that you won’t swap a nod or a wink with some thespian or other who has performed roles like Thomasheen Seán Rua, Maggie Polpin, The Hiker Lacey, Cathtalawn, Bridie Lavan, Joe Fell or Mena Glavin.
One name more than most is synonymous with the discipline. When Father PV O’Brien was appointed PP in The Neale in 1976 he revived the defunct Neale Drama Society. Producing quality plays was his forte.
The raw material was readily available. Waiting on the wings he had a bounteous scion of amateur actors imbued with natural flair.
A plethora of anecdotes garnered during rehearsals conducted under his discerning eye endure through perpetual retellings. Time has not devalued their worth.
A droll yarn harvested while the troupe practiced for Walter Macken’s ‘Home is the Hero’ is one such paradigm. PV was pacing up and down The Neale Hall as was his wont whilst putting the cast through their paces. On stage, the amiable Martin O’Malley was honing his portrayal of ‘Manchester’ Monaghan.
Endeavouring to get Martin to project his delivery a tad, PV alluded to a plausible possibility. “Martin, think of the man sitting down near the back of the hall who might be a bit hard of hearing.”
“Aaragh! Let him come up to the front if he cannot hear,” replied Martin.
Martin, PV and many other good souls who trod The Neale boards have taken their earthly bow now.
But the theatrical culture they cultivated still thrives under the umbrella of ‘The Other Abbey Players.’ Over the winter they’ve burned the midnight oil in Cong NS perfecting their upcoming production of another Walter Macken play, ‘Mungo’s Mansion’.
Martin Dunleavy and Therese Gibbons direct this latest offering. Martin also plays the lead role of Mungo King. In Robert Clarke, Sighle Hughes, Patricia Keane, Jonathan Hopkins, Breege Morrin, John Fahy, Pat Coyne and Ray McHugh, as sound a man as ever upended a corner-forward in the small parallelogram who plays the part of ‘Mowleogs’ Canavan, he has a strong supporting cast. Maura Judge-Morrin, Martina Coyle and Cathy McGrath apply the make-up. Sarah Fahy is the sound woman and Pearse Doherty and Edward Joyce are in charge of lighting. The cast lent a hand acquiring props and set construction.  
The Other Abbey Players stage the fruit of their labours for all to see in Lisloughrey Lodge tonight (Tuesday), tomorrow (Wednesday) and Thursday night commencing at 8.30pm. Proceeds go to the funding of the Cong Community Centre and €10 will get you in the door.

Dawn Mass at The Chalet
THE chalet on the shores of Lough Corrib is one of the numerous idyllic settings around Cong. Many a love story began there. On the law of averages a few probably ended there also ach sin scéal eile.
The scenic venue has also carved out a niche for itself as a location for one of the great Easter rituals. The Easter Sunday Dawn Mass at the chalet now attracts a huge congregation from both sides of the Mayo/Galway border.
Clonbur native Father Colm Burke is Chief Celebrant this year. It’s a 6.30am bell. There’s a warm fire, tea and refreshments afterwards. The hard-working committee operate a one-way traffic system of up the centre and down the aisles.

The Navigator of Lough Corrib
CONG came to a standstill last week as huge crowds converged to pay their final respects to John Luskin. A well-known and affable man, John loved Lough Corrib’s waters.
He set up Corrib Cruises in 1976. Because of his foresight a legion of people now enjoy the beauty of the Corrib and the tranquillity of Inchagoill.  Sharing friendly banter and his innate knowledge of the lake with his passengers was the model he floated his business venture on. It still surfs the waves. His sons, Patrick and David, chart the course now. The navigator of Lough Corrib has sailed to Inishfree.