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‘Major John MacBride’ debuts this week in Westport


THE thriving amateur drama scene in Mayo is all set for a big occasion this week when a new, three-act play, written by St Patrick’s Drama Group member, Ciarán MacSuibhne, takes to the stage at Westport Town Hall Theatre.
The play debuted last night (Monday) and the opening and closing scenes were described as ‘very moving’.
MacSuibhne also plays the lead role and the play aims to reflects on MacBride’s life as a Major in the Boer War in South Africa; his marriage to Maud Gonne (muse of WB Yeats) and subsequent concerns over the future of their only child, Seán, following their difficult separation; after his execution and a splendid closing scene involving WB Yeats.     
The play also has three songs by the author (sung beautifully by Danny McNamara) and incidental music to accompany a Yeats poem.
Paul O’Brien play Yeats, in a cast of twenty-one, including the effervescent Rosaleen Heraty (Maud Gonne), Lennie Grimes (Fr Augustine), Tony Varley (Arthur Griffith), Declan Askin (John O’Leary) and Tom Navin (Thomas McDonagh). Brónach Joyce plays Maud Gonne’s housekeeper, with 10-year-old Clodagh Cunningham (Rosaleen Heraty’s niece) shining as Iseult, (Maud’s daughter), and Patrick O’Reilly a most convincing Lucien Millevoye (Iseult’s father).

There is a unique feature to the play with newcomer, Bernardine Walsh MacBride playing her own Great-Grandmother, Eileen Wilson, who was Maud Gonne’s half-sister, and who married the Major’s older brother Joseph MacBride (Gearóid Ó Riain).
Stephen Duffy and Seán Clarke are both soldiers while Liam MacNamara, Séamus McNally, Micheál McGreal and Brendan Carroll also play soldiers, both in the Boer War and Jacobs factory. Liamy Mac Nally plays Maud’s lawyer, Mr Witham, with Brian Murphy as MacBride’s lawyer, Mr O’Brien.
The play is augmented by a display of Major MacBride memorabilia in the Seán Staunton Room, to which everyone is invited. MacBride and Westport are synonymous. This play is seen as a fitting tribute by a local drama group to a local hero who gave his life, along with fifteen other men, during the 1916 Easter Rising.
Liz Browne is the experienced director having steered classic plays such as ‘The Field’, ‘Widows Paradise’, ‘Drinking Habits’ and many more down through the years. Producer Marion Moran of ‘The Mariettas’ fame, also recently featured in ‘The Debt’.
A member of St Patrick’s Drama Group for fifteen years, Ciarán MacSuibhne has performed in some of the group’s most successful plays. He also wrote and directed the group’s  2010 sell-out comedy Makem and Clancy Are Coming. The play continues tonight (Tuesday) at 8pm in the Town Hall, with further shows on this Wednesday and Thursday night.
To book see or call 098 28459, tickets €15/12.