Athlone Announced as Pfizer / Irish Times ‘Healthy Town’ for 2015

published on: Apr 24, 2015

 Athlone as the Pfizer / Irish Times ‘Healthy Town’ 2015

Athlone Town has been announced as the Pfizer / Irish Times Healthy Town 2015.  Healthy Town is a collaboration between Pfizer, Irish Times and the civic and business community of Athlone.   The eight-week programme, now in its fourth year, will commence in September and will combine health promotion events, information meetings, health checks and physical activity sessions, to encourage the people of Athlone to improve their health, with all events free of charge.

Healthy Town is a ‘Healthy Ireland’ (Department of Health) supported initiative and is also supported by the Irish Heart Foundation. Key features of ‘Healthy Town’ include:

  • Talks and demonstrations from expert speakers on areas including healthy eating, parenting, mental health, relationships, stress management and health promotion.
  • Weekly sports and fitness activities throughout the eight-week period for people of all ages and abilities.  
  • The Irish Heart Foundation will provide free one-to-one health checks by checking blood pressure, cholesterol, glucose, body mass index, waist measurement and carbon monoxide (for smokers). 

Speaking at the announcement of Athlone as the Pfizer / Irish Times ‘Healthy Town’ 2015, Pat Keating, District Manager, Athlone Municipal District, Westmeath County Council said ‘We are delighted that Athlone has been selected as the Pfizer /Irish Times Healthy Town for 2015. We are all well aware of the ever increasing health issues facing the people of Ireland and everyone has a responsibility and role to play to create positive health and wellbeing.  We encourage the community in Athlone to get together and get involved in supporting the initiative so if anyone has suggestions for activities that could take place as part of Healthy Town they should submit their details to’.

Ms. Kate O’Flaherty, Director, Health and Wellbeing Programme at the Department of Health commented: "Healthy Ireland is pleased to support the 'Healthy Town' initiative, as this kind of partnership approach, across the public and private sectors, and within communities, is critical to achieving our goals.  We encourage the Athlone Community to get involved in the initiative, ensuring its continued success."

Mr. Barry O’Keeffe, Night  Editor, The Irish Times said:  “As partner on ‘Healthy Town’ it gives me great pleasure to see this programme continue into its fourth year. We are encouraged by the hugely positive response from Westmeath County Council and look forward to working with the people of Athlone.”

Announcement of  Athlone as the Pfizer / Irish Times ‘Healthy Town’ 2015

“Athlone has been selected as the Pfizer / Irish Times Healthy Town due to the fact that it is a vibrant town with an enthusiastic community”

Athlone has been selected as the Pfizer / Irish Times Healthy Town due to the fact that it is a vibrant town with an enthusiastic community” added Ms. Karen O’Keeffe, Director of Corporate Affairs, Pfizer.  “Everyone has a responsibility and role to play to create positive health and wellbeing; community, Government, society and business. We look forward to developing the full programme for Pfizer / Irish Times Healthy Town 2015 including talks, activities and health checks and getting to know the people of Athlone in the process.”

Busy schedule of events at Athlone Arts and Tourism for the RTÉ All Ireland Drama Fringe Festival

published on: Apr 14, 2015

Throughout the RTÉ All Ireland Drama Festival, Athlone Arts and Tourism will run a number of fringe events including three workshops, two exhibitions, a marionette performance and a poetry recital.

Anyone interested in writing for theatre should join Michelle Read a Dublin-based playwright and dramaturge for one of two playwriting workshops in Luan Gallery on the 2nd May.

Michelle has received many production awards including the Hugh Leonard Bursary, the Eamon Keane Full Length Play Award, the Stewart Parker/BBC Northern Ireland Drama Award and the Fringe First Award from the Edinburgh Festival. Read regularly teaches creative and dramatic writing at the Irish Writer's Centre and the Big Smoke Writing Factory.
Michelle says:

'This is a great opportunity to take part in a highly practical workshop and explore how to create a map of a script for actors and designers through the construction of dynamic characters, engaging story, active dialogue and clear stage imagery'.

Stage Combat Workshop

For those interested in stage combat, James Cosgrave returns this year to St Mary's Hall to give a one day combat workshop during which pparticipants will be shown basic techniques used to give the illusion of violence while maintaining the highest level of safety and control. James is a senior instructor with the Irish Dramatic Combat Academy and has appeared in many television shows including 'Vikings' and 'Penny Dreadful' as well as regularly coordinating fight sequences for the Gate and Abbey Theatres.
In this class participants will learn, strikes to the head and body, hair pulling and choking techniques and stage positioning. Participants will also get to flex their acting muscles with a short choreographed fight scene at the end of the class. This workshop will take place on the 7th May in St.Mary's Hall.

Essential pre - booking for this and the writing workshops is through Luan Gallery on 09064 42154.

Marionette Perfomance of Little Red Riding Hood

Athlone Castle will host a marionette performance by Ireland's only travelling marionette theatre, Moon and Six Pence Puppet Theatre Company. This cheeky version of Red Riding Hood features the classic fairy-tale characters and a talking dustbin that encourages children to pick up litter. This string puppet production includes a moral in the tale, showing the importance of patience and friendship. The show, lasting fifty minutes, is performed live with music and sound effects drawing plenty of audience participation, from adults and kids alike.

There will be two performances on the 8th and 9th of May at 1pm.
Essential pre booking is through Athlone Castle on 0906442130.

Additionally during the RTÉ All Ireland Drama Festival Athlone Castle Visitor Centre will welcome a new exhibition by Athlone Institute of Technology's Fine Art and Photography Society displayed in the café area. Abbey Road Artists' Studios will host the annual exhibition of work by AIT Design Students titled 'Stellar'. Both exhibitions are free of charge.

Finally, there will be a poetry recital hosted by Poetry in the Park in the grounds of Athlone Castle with more details to be found soon on our website

Download RTÉ All Ireland Drama Festival Fringe Flyer (PDF)

Festival Fringe to Include Ireland's Best Schools Playwright Competition

published on: Apr 13, 2015

The RTÉ All Ireland Drama Festival will soon announce the winner of Ireland’s Best Schools Playwright 2015 which is now in its second year with almost 40 transition year students taking part from schools across the country.    

Athlone is well represented by students from Our Lady's Bower, St. Aloysius College and The Marist College.  Margaret Egan from the festival committee explained that the 40 scripts have been reviewed, each an original one-act play on the theme of conversation with a maximum of 2000 words.  Margaret who is an adjudicator of the competition described this year’s standard, “We are very excited about this year’s competition. The standard is very high and this competition is designed to identify our most talented young writers from across the country.”  The overall winner will be announced by the organiser of this years fringe Mr Billy Nott in the Dean Crowe Theatre at 2pm on Tuesday 28th April as part of the 2015 RTÉ All Ireland Drama Festival Fringe.  The play itself will also be performed following its announcement.

Billy Nott - Fringe Organiser RTÉ All Ireland Drama Festival Ciara Rigney - Winner Schools Playwright Competition 2014, Our Lady's Bower, Athlone Aideen Egan - Festival Committee
Billy Nott - Fringe Organiser RTÉ All Ireland Drama Festival Ciara Rigney - Winner Schools Playwright Competition 2014, Our Lady's Bower, Athlone Aideen Egan - Festival Committee

The 2014 winner was Ciara Rigney, a transition year student from Our Lady's Bower, Athlone. Ciara’s play was described as “exceptional” by the 2014 adjudicator and brainchild of the competition Aideen Egan.  According to Aideen, “It dealt with the conversation we might have in our own head.  It had an enigmatic depth as well as wonderfully clear stage directions and structure.  An outstanding and deserving winner of the first schools playwright competition”, she said. Following the announcement last May, a reading of Ciara's play "Voices in my head" was held in the Dean Crowe Theatre.  Her play explored the tragic issue of inner turmoil as experienced by a young male protagonist who grappled with thoughts of suicide. 

Present at the announcement was the Festival Director Joe MacCarrick, Ciara's english teacher from Our Lady's Bower, Ms Annette Craven, Ciara's family, and many of the RTÉ All Ireland Drama Festival Committee members. 


published on: Apr 02, 2015

The 2015 RTÉ All Ireland Drama Festival is building up to top all previous festivals with a fringe festival to match.  The drama will once again take place in the auditorium of the Dean Crowe Theatre and will be matched with lots of varied and unusual fringe performances and events.  The full list of plays to be performed by groups from across the country is now known the list of finalists is as follows:

Ballyduff Drama Group Takin’ Over The Asylum by Donna Franceschild;  Ballyshannon Drama Society God of Carnage by Yasmina Reza,  Bunclody/Kilmyshall Drama Group Stolen Child by Yvonne Quinn &BairbreNíChaoimh;  Corofin Dramatic Society The 39 Steps by Patrick Barlow; Estuary Players The Drawer Boy by Michael Healy;  Kilmuckridge Drama Group The Kings of the Kilburn High Road by Jimmy Murphy; Letterkenny Music and Drama Group The 39 Steps by Patrick Barlow;  Palace Players Conversations on a Homecoming by Tom Murphy; Shoestring Theatre Company Trad by Mark Doherty.
RTE All Ireland Drama Festival director Joe MacCarrick RTE All Ireland Drama Festival director Joe MacCarrick
The Fringe Festival will see many new changes in 2015 and these will be broadcast loud and clear across the town by a new Town Crier, especially commissioned for the RTÉ All Ireland Drama Festival.  In medieval times the Town Crier was the greatest (and perhaps the only) means of communicating news to the people of the town.  As far as we can ascertain the vast majority of people were illiterate until the invention of moveable type therefore those who governed towns and cities employed Town Criers to proclaim royal decrees, local bylaws, court sessions, market days etc.  Now in 2015 the Town Crier is making a comeback, dressed in appropriate garb and welcoming visitors to the festival.  According to festival PRO Alan Shaw, the new Town Crier is likely to become the most photographed individual of this year’s festival! 

Another new addition to festival 2015 is the Craft Fair with approximately 40 stalls setting up at John Count McCormack Square at 12 noon on Saturday 2nd May.  According to fringe organiser Billy Nott, the stalls will be a variety of artisan food and crafts set up by traders and artists from all over the midlands. Entertainment including the Ravens Marching Band, street theatre with Tonnta, face painting and balloon making for children will run right through the event. This will mark one of the first events at the newly laid out John Count McCormack Square since it opened 6 months ago and is regarded as an excellent venue for this type of event.  The Craft Fair is for the whole family, this is an event for everybody, not just drama enthusiasts.The Craft Fair with entertainment will add greatly to the festive atmosphere and make the RTÉ All Ireland Drama Festival a "Festival" rather than just an event.

Commenting ahead of the launch of the 2015 festival, the festival director Joe MacCarrick thanked RTÉ, all the local festival sponsors, Westmeath Co Co, Athlone Tidy Towns and the many volunteers who are embarking to undertake this major national event in our town.  The official launch of festival 2015 takes place in the Shamrock Lodge Hotel on Monday 20th April.