Ancient history of Kilmallock is brought to life in ‘riveting’ play

Aine Fitzgerald


Aine Fitzgerald

AFTER a sell-out run last year, Set in Stone – a condensed, “action packed history” of Kilmallock - has returned to Friars’ Gate Theatre.

AFTER a sell-out run last year, Set in Stone – a condensed, “action packed history” of Kilmallock - has returned to Friars’ Gate Theatre.

The promenade style piece of theatre invites the audience to literally follow the action from scene to scene.

The audience congregate at the Dominican Abbey where the box office is set up before being led to Friars’ Gate Theatre on the town’s main street.

Here they are taken on a journey through time experiencing the theatre and inhabiting the story.

“You don’t really appreciate the amount of history that is on your own doorstep until you go looking at it,” said the play’s writer and director John Sheehy from Ardpatrick.

John, who studied Performing Arts at Colaiste Stiofain Naofa, Cork, wrote the two-hour play last year following a local meeting in the area. “We had a meeting here between Caoimhe in Friars’ Gate, Amanda Slattery of Ballyhoura Development, and myself and Cora (Fenton) of Callback theatre. It was at a Ballyhoura Development meeting for start-up businesses and myself and Cora went along and ended up chatting about what we were doing. We said it would be nice to do something on local history so it grew from that,” he added.

Set in Stone recreates many scenes from local history and tells the human stories behind some of these most important events. With detailed sets and costumes, the action begins in the 16th century with the town under siege from English forces. Throughout the evening attendees will be invited for a drink in 1867 with the locals trapped inside the Freemasons Arms Hotel as the Fenian attack on the town’s police barracks rages outside, encounter one of the most notorious female figures of the 19th century in the form of Castle Oliver’s Lola Montez, behold the art of faction fighting, be a spectator at Ireland’s “Klondike” in the 1924 Bulgaden Gold Rush and witness the last moments of a young Kilmallock man, sentenced to hang for the murder of a local landlord.

“I was tipping away at the research for maybe three or four months before I started writing in earnest – it took three months then to write it,” said John.

“Whenever a thought comes to mind you make a note of it but I just found it easy to try and start at 10 in the morning and work away. I did give myself some set hours because when you have a deadline you have to keep focused.”

A total of 15 people are involved in the production and the cast features Cora Fenton from Flemingston, Kilmallock, Myles Horgan from Cork, Bren Barnett from Tipperary and Bob Kelly from Sligo.

“They play about seven or eight characters a piece. We are getting the most out of them,” joked John who is currently writing CallBack’s next production Fred and Alice which is scheduled to tour from March 2012.

Set in Stone presented by Friars’ Gate Theatre & CallBack theatre runs until Sunday, August 14, daily at 8pm. Matinees take place on Saturday, August 6, Sunday, August 7, Saturday, August 13 and Sunday, August 14 at 2:30pm. Tickets €20/€18. Booking Office 063 98727