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One of the oldest festivals in Ireland may have reached 'pension age' but there is certainly no sign of the festival or indeed the hard working organisers of Newry Drama Festival slowing down!

This year the festival reaches it's 65th season and the curtains will go up at Newry Town Hall on Friday 24 March with nine varied plays running until Saturday 1 April.

The event is hosted by the long-established Newry drama Festival Committee led at present by Chairman, Gerry McNulty and generously supported by The Quays, Newry - the Festival’s Principal Sponsor. Hon. Secretary is Eileen Mooney, who succeeded the long serving Maureen Daly.

Newry Drama Festival committee members pictured with Cllr Gillian Fitzpatrick, Chairperson, Newry, Mourne and Down Council at the launch of the festival. Photograph: Columba O'Hare
Newry Drama Festival committee members pictured with Cllr Gillian Fitzpatrick, Chairperson, Newry, Mourne and Down Council at the launch of the festival. Photograph: Columba O'Hare

The Festival has always attracted the top Drama Companies from North and South of the Border. In fact, the winners of Newry have often won either the Ulster Drama Festival Finals or the RTE All-Ireland Drama Festival Finals, or sometimes both.

Maureen Grant who has been involved with the Festival for many years looking after Sponsorship and Public Relations commented "The Festival has always enjoyed the support of the Business and Professional people in the area and this support has been growing and is most welcome, as the Festival’s expenses are also growing.

"The Committee extends a sincere Thank You to all our loyal Sponsors - past and new. 

"In 2004 the Quays Shopping and Leisure Centre came on board as the Principal  Sponsor and this gave the Festival an enormous boost. I'd like to pay a special tribute to Cathal Austin and his staff for financial support and encouragement."

In the same year, R.T.E. announced a Funding and Publicity package for the All-Ireland Festival Finals in Athlone. Today, both of these Sponsorships viz. the Quays Newry and RTE continue to promote Amateur Drama on the island of Ireland. 

36 Drama Festivals are held annually and the Athlone Finals take place under the auspices of the Drama Council of Ireland. The Amateur Drama Council of Ireland (ADCI) is the federation of Amateur Drama Festivals North and South and 2 of the current members of the Newry Committee viz Eileen Mooney and Pat Grant, have had the honour of chairing the All-Ireland Council in the past.

A.D.C.I. was founded in 1952 and has co-ordinated the running of preliminary drama Festivals and the All-Ireland Final Festival ever since. The principal objectives of the Council are to foster, develop, promote and encourage amateur drama in Ireland and to organise annually both the Open and Confined All-Ireland Drama Festivals. 

The first All-Ireland Drama Festival was held in Athlone in 1953 and this Festival has been held there ever since.

Bookings

Season Tickets: Saturday 18 March 9.30am - 12.30pm at Sean Hollywood Arts Centre

Nightly/ Season Tickets: Wednesday 22nd March 12pm - 2pm The Quays Shopping Centre

Tickets also available on the door on the night

Prices

Season Ticket £45/ Student £15

Nightly Ticket £9/ £8 concession

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