A group from the Annfield School of Speech and Drama, Roxboro at the Féile Luimnigh in Mungret College Pictures: Dave Gaynor
AS ONE of Limerick’s long- est running festivals begins preparations for its 75th anniversary, the vibrant arts event is looking for past performers and medal winners to share their stories.
Féile Luimnigh, the much loved annual festival founded in Limerick in 1946, will celebrate a milestone anniversary in 2021.
Promoting creativity in speech and drama, vocals and instrumental music, the festival also places a strong emphasis on the promotion of our national culture.
“As Limerick becomes a more culturally diverse city and county, we in Féile Luimnigh hope we can celebrate that diversity through our shared love of the arts,” Féile Luimnigh secretary Mary Scanlan told the Leader.
Running from January to March every year, Féile Luimnigh features a full programme of events, catering for all age groups across the disciplines of speech and drama, singing, music and labhairt na Gaeilge, Mrs Scanlan explained.
“We are proud to continue the tradition, begun 73 years ago, of providing a platform for the many teachers and students from Limerick and further afield who wish to showcase their talent.
“Our Festival culminates in a celebration concert at the end of March each year which showcases the best talent from all our disciplines,” she added.
More than 1,500 people have taken part in the 73rd Féile Luimnigh so far this year, with the national schools competitions yet to take place.
Based for many years at the Belltable Arts Theatre, formerly Amharclann na Féile, Féile Luimnigh was warmly welcomed to Mungret College by William Sheehan and in his family in 2018.
“We have found a fitting home in their newly refurbished chapel, which we hope will be our permanent base for many years to come,” Mrs Scanlan said.
“With plenty of parking and a wonderful onsite restaurant, the Milk Thistle Kitchen, it is a very comfortable venue from which to run Féile.
The festival is a “real labour of love” for all who are involved.
“It’s all voluntary,” Mrs Scanlan said. “We have a fantastic executive commit- tee and reps, and a fantastic president John Doyle.
“We cover a range of ages, like solo verse for five and six year olds. We also have over 18s entering some of the Féile competitions as well.
“The Limerick Leader has also played its part in our history,” Mrs Scanlan said. “For many years The Leader has supported Féile Luimnigh, taking photographs of prize winners and publishing them with pages of results, much to the delight of all concerned.
“These photos still make an appearance from time to time in the Yesteryears pages of the paper.”
For its 75th anniversary in 2021, Féile Luimnigh is looking to hear from past participants, who would like to share their memories and stories from the event.
“Since 1947, many of the students and young people who have performed at Féile Luimnigh have gone on to pursue successful careers in the performing arts,” Mrs Scanlan said. “I was told before that Riverdance composer Bill Whelan should have medals from Féile.”
Past gold medal winners also include Tommy Drennan and Paddy Ring, she added.
“We’d love to hear from everybody.
“We would love any past performers and medal winners to get in contact with us as we attempt to write a history of Féile in Limerick.
“We’re also looking at looking at developing a gala concert, with some of the people who might have taken part in Féile over the years but we have no contact list.
“Maebh Earlie, who would have run Féile for years, may have some archive material that will help,” Mrs Scanlan added. “Those who are interested can contact with us through www.feileluimnigh.ie.”
March 31 will see the annual Féile Luimnigh Gala Concert take place at the LIT Millennium Theatre. Tickets are available at the box office that evening. All dates for upcoming Féile events are listed on feileluimnigh.ie.