Derry writer Eileen Walsh hopes to bring a whole new audience to breakfast radio next week with a drama series for children.
The play called ‘The Adventures of Casey McGonagle, which will be aired over the next eight weeks, begins on Highland Radio’s Breakfast Show on Monday.
The play was adapted by Eileen from her as yet unpublished children’s novel and tells the story of a young boy from Donegal with a secret life.
“Casey McGonagle has a magic granny and a wee pet mouse that he smuggles into school with him. There is an evil businessman in his town, who has a secret factory where he messes around with the cheese supply,” Eileen tells the ‘Journal.’
“This businessman wants to take over the world and Casey and his magic granny are going after him big time!”
Eileen says that she is using her play to broach a very serious subject with her young audience.
“There are messages in there about messing with food, like genetically modified food.”
“The Adventures of Casey McGonagle” is Eileen’s second radio play specifically written for children, with her first airing on Inishowen Community Radio last year.
The play represents almost two years work for Eileen but she plays down the amount of dedication and hard work it has taken because she loves it.
“I love writing for radio because the words are so important. If you are writing for the stage you have the help of the actors, their physical appearance, costumes, lights and sets. In radio you have the voice and the words.”
Eileen, who hosts her own talk show on Derry’s Drive 105 radio station believes that radio is her “medium” and is “delighted” that her new play will be on at breakfast time.
“It will hopefully open up a whole new audience to radio and it will be great to have them entertained by Casey McGonagle’s story as they are getting ready for school.”
Eileen auditioned many children from schools in Donegal for the lead role and it was won by 10-year-old Seamus O’Donnell from Letterkenny.
“After he got the part I spoke with his mother and she told me that Seamus had a speech impediment in the past and she had gone on Highland Radio to get help with his treatment. She was just delighted about him getting the part because it has given him such a confidence boost.”
“I never knew anything about the speech impediment, but for me he had the best voice to play Casey McGonagle because he was so natural.”
The play also features the vocal talents of Andrew Rodd, from Magheroarty, Paul Moore (actor/director of An Nua theatre in Derry) and Scottish performance poet Frank Rafferty. The theme music for the series has been commissioned from local musicians Chris and Gareth McGrath.
l “The Adventures of Casey McGonagle” begins on Monday October 3, just after the 8am news on Highland Radio’s Breakfast Show.