Anne McGrory is flying from one cultural surfeit to another.
After a ‘hectic weekend’ of poetry, performances, concerts, crafts and workshops, she is off to Barcelona to visit her daughter.
The exhausted co-organiser of Culdaff’s ‘best ever’ Charles Macklin Autumn School jokes that she now needs, at least, two week’s rest and recuperation:
“The first Charles Macklin Autumn School took place in 1990, the tercentenary of the actor’s birth.
“Since then, the event has gone from strength to strength.
“This weekend the town welcomed record numbers of visitors.
“In spite of the atrocious weather, everything was very well attended.
“All of the businesses here benefited from the late season influx.
“The organising team: Sean Beattie, Anne McDaid, Annie McCartney and Jim Sheridan deserve great credit. We have had nothing but positive feedback.”
According to Macklin’s biographer, Inishowen woman, Brigid O’Donnell, the acclaimed thespian was born Cathal MacLochlainn and hailed from Culdaff Parish. By all accounts he was an extremely colourful character, who emigrated to England to pursue an acting career.
Once there, he joined the Lincoln’s Inn Company.
In 1725 Macklin was put on trial for killing a fellow performer during an argument. He was subsequently found guilty of manslaughter.
Such was Macklin’s genius, however, his contemporary, poet Alexander Pope, characterised his definitive performance as Shylock in ‘The Merchant of Venice’, as “the Jew that Shakespeare drew”.
For musician and song writer, Tom Byrne, whose Big Band wowed the audience in McGrory’s on Friday night, the highlight was the world premier of ‘Macklin: Method and Madness’.
This play within in a play was written and performed by talented duo Gary Jermyn and Michael James Ford.
It is set 1941 London, on Valentine’s Day.
In the middle of the Blitz, despite air raid warnings, a BBC radio play, celebrating the bicentenary of Macklin’s first appearance as Shylock, is about to be aired.
Tom put together an eclectic mix of ‘fantastic’ local musicians and singers to launch his new CD,”
“I was particularly happy to include a song written by my late father, Paddy Byrne, in this collection; it is called ‘Light in the Valley’. The other three songs are my own compositions. It was very satisfying to be performing in Culdaff this weekend. We got a good reaction from the crowd.”