Limerick City of Culture takes top theatre award

Alan Owens

Reporter:

Alan Owens

Mike Fitzpatrick and Sheila Deegan at the Irish Times Theatre Awards. Picture: Aidan Crawley
PAST and present members of City of Culture came together on stage to accept a top theatre award for the year of culture.

PAST and present members of City of Culture came together on stage to accept a top theatre award for the year of culture.

Director Mike Fitzpatrick and arts officer Sheila Deegan were joined on stage at the Irish Times Theatre Awards by Maeve McGrath and Jo Mangan, two of the programmers for the year who departed with artistic director Karl Wallace before it began.

The year of culture was presented with the Judges Special Award, which praised it for “using the city in the most imaginative way to rebrand Limerick as a beacon of artistic endeavour”.

McGrath and Mangan - together with Wallace and Claudia Woolgar - were responsible for putting together the ambitious programme for the year that was subsequently implemented.

Sheila Deegan, arts and culture manager during 2014, said the “award is recognition not only for all the cultural practitioners involved but also for Limerick and its citizens, including the many volunteers, who engaged so enthusiastically with the entire year.

“Limerick City of Culture has proved to be a major success, and now the city is working on a bid for designation as European City of Culture 2020 as a means of insuring continued investment in culture as a way of developing Limerick’s future,” she added.

Maeve McGrath, currently running the innovative Hatch LK theatre initiative in the city, would later tweet: “This award is heading north to Karl Wallace. #Limerick2014 was his vision.”

Ms Mangan added her support for the former artistic director, who resigned his post citing a breakdown in communication with then CEO Patricia Ryan on December 30, 2013.

Ms Mangan, who spoke on stage at the event along with Mr Fitzpatrick, dedicated the award to Wallace.

Limerick was well represented at the awards in Dublin this Sunday night, with the team behind On the Wire - Wildebeest Theatre Company - and Mario Beck, based at the UCH, all nominated for prizes, but narrowly missing out on taking top honours.