It’s competition time at Feis Dhun Dealgain

THE much anticipated Feis Dhun Dealgain will take place in The Fairway’s Hotel, Conference Centre on the weekend of Saturday 13th April and Sunday 14th April, once again attracting children and teenagers from all over Louth.

THE much anticipated Feis Dhun Dealgain will take place in The Fairway’s Hotel, Conference Centre on the weekend of Saturday 13th April and Sunday 14th April, once again attracting children and teenagers from all over Louth.

The Festival began in 1997, with approximately 350 competitors from Dundalk, Co. Louth. It is now in its 16th year with 435 competitors in solo competitions, and up to 300 students competing in the group competitions.

The event takes place on Saturday 13th April from 12 noon to 7pm, and on Sunday 14th April, from 9am to approximately 7pm and is open to the public who are invited to come along and enjoy the performances. Tickets cost w3.00 on Saturday and w4.00 on Sunday, there are 36 competitions and 9 finals to see, you most definitely will find something to whet your appetite throughout the weekend.

The only of its kind in the area the Feis was thought up by Patricia Reynolds of the Reynolds Academy of Performing Arts,

“The idea for the Feis came from the overall learning in class situations. I realised that the students took part in examinations and also in performances for their parents and schools, however, they lacked competition. There are lots of prizes from medals, to trophies to the overall Perpetual Shields and then of course the Overall Best Student and Student with out-standing Potential Trophy’s.”

For Trish competitions like the Feis are essential to a student’s progress, “There is nothing like competition for improving your skills, both as a performer and as a useful tool for future life. The first and foremost thing is to take part regardless of whether you win or not. This teaches students how to cope with winning and also losing. An added bonus to the Feis is that the children actually developed and grew to regard others in performance and to encourage and care for others in their class groups. The Feis became a sounding board for their talent and also most importantly for their pleasure.”

“Most of the competitors in the Feis are from Blackrock and Haggardstown, though many are from different schools in Dundalk. There are other Speech & Drama schools participating from Co. Louth area and also a Drama group come all the way from Enniskillen, which is lovely and good for the town as they book accommodation overnight to stay for both days”.

With independent, expert judges on board competitors are guaranteed to get valuable feedback, “The judges this year are Emer Casey, a native of Derry, Northern Ireland; Emer has spent the greater part of her life in Dublin. She holds a BA Honours in English and Philosophy and an Associate and Licentiate from the Royal Irish Academy of Music. Emer performs on stage herself frequently and has her own Drama School in Dublin.

We also have Pamela Hughes from Dublin; Pamela runs ‘Take 2 Performing Arts School and Casting Agency’ and celebrates 25 years in business this year. Pamela studied with the Gaiety school of Acting, London College of Music and has a Licentiate and Fellowship with the Irish Board of Speech & Drama”.

The categories in competition include; Poetry, Solo-Drama, Solo-Mime, Sight Reading, Television Newsreader, Original Poetry, Duologues, Choral Verse, Group Improvisation and Movement to Music. The age range in all competitions is from age 4 years to 18 years.

According to Patricia the most popular competition in terms of numbers participating is Poetry, however, in terms of good fun and frolics the solo-drama’s and duologues are not to be missed.

“The most fun group competitions are the grand Finale Movement to Music which will take place on Sunday evening from 5pm to approximately 7pm. A huge mix of animals, comedy, and real life issues, with lots of dance, performance and music. On a personal note, I love the senior poetry and solo-drama, to be quite honest, the students would take your breath away, magical!”

Now in its 17th year Patricia puts the continued success of the event down to the generous support she receives,

“I think the continued success of Feis Dhun Dealgain is down to the parents and our sponsors. The parents see the joy, fun and learning the children gain from participating in competition. Parents realise too how important confidence and presentation skills are in this ever changing world of ours. These students are the leaders of tomorrow, we need to nurture them and encourage them to be excellent in their life choices, to be the very best they can be and are born to be”.

Patricia would like to thank her sponsors without whose support the Feis could not continue, “I do realise that we are deeply in recession, and the drop in numbers in competition attest to that. Most of our sponsors have been with us from the very beginning and continue to support us through thick and thin. I acknowledge their economic difficulties and am eternally grateful for their outstanding goodwill to Feis Dhun Dealgain”.

Thanks to Brian McQuillan, The Pharmacy, Blackrock, Tres Belle Hair Salon, Dublin Road, Flanagan’s Mace and Petrol Station, Dublin Road, Felda Health & Leisure Centre, Dublin Road, P & A Quinn Meats Ltd, Avenue Road, Dundalk, Hollywood Industries, Blackrock Parents Council, Haggardstown Parents Committee, Tom Rodgers, Dentist, Blackrock DFS Financial Services, Dundalk, Barry’s Cottage Butchers, Rock Cabs, Blackrock, Tom Duffy Trophy’s, Mary White, Anna Reynolds, RAPA Drama and The Fairway’s Hotel.