Standing ovations greeted the premiere performances of on On a Wing and A Prayer- The musical in The Royal Theatre Castlebar, Co Mayo (Nov 25 to 27). Despite blinding snow and icy conditions, the impressive theatre, which accommodates 2,000 people, was packed, and the Mayo Roscommon Hospice received all monies from the performances.
There were 125 actors/singers/dancers of all ages on the stage, 99 per cent of whom were amateurs, but ever so professional. The singing was out of the top drawer, the music unlifting and unspiring as the story of Monsignor James Horan unwound in colourful detail over almost 2 and a half hours.
Despite the adverse weather conditions, people travelled from all over the country, from surrounding counties, from Dublin, from the north of Ireland and from England for the premiere.
The attendance on various nights included former Government minister Padraig Flynn and airport builder Frank Harrington and family members of the Horan family, and also family members of the team who formed the initial Board of Connaugh Regional Airport, later Horan International Airport, now called Ireland West Airport Knock, and perhaps more commonly known as Knock Airport.
People have been ringing n to the local radio station, Mid West Radio, asking when will be show be perfomed again, if it is going to Dublin, to England or America? No decisions have been taken on future dates/locations…first everyone will enjoy a well earned rest! Terry Reilly, the creator and co-writer with Tommy Marren, said the response of the public was most heartening, and he had been inundated with telephone calls from well -wishers.
On final night on stage Terry Reilly said he was humbled at the magnificence of the cast and production, and humbled by the support from the general public, and said that though Ireland was going through a tough economic phase, the resilience of the people would see us through, as they had when Monsignor James Horan was building his airport in the dark and dreary 1980s.
Tommy Marren, who also produced the show and was the narrator, said it had been an amazing journey over many months of auditions and rehearsals, and he too paid tribute to the cast and backstage crew, designers, and the many who had worked behind the scenes. Special tribute was accorded to Lavinia Slater-Gilmartin, the musical director, who worked wonders to ensure a musically brilliant and entertaining show.
To mark their input presentations were made by Ollie Rouse (who played the older Monsignor Horan so brilliantly) on behalf of the cast to Terry Reilly, Tommy Marren, Lavinia Slater-Gilmartin and Cynthia Clampett, Co-Ordinator, CEO of Mayo Roscommon Hospice and who also played Dame Judy Coyne in the show. A number of other presentations were also made to members of the cast and backstage crew, including Eileen Slevin who did a brilliant job as set designer. See cast list under Production & Cast .
Mayo Man of the Year Joe Kennedy, who was Chief Patron of the show, was unstinting in his praise of the production. The attendance included a visiting party under the Peace 111 initiative from Banbridge, Co Down, and from Belfast, who were brought to the show by Sean and Peggy Owens of the Banada (Co Sligo) Development Agency.
Also in the attendance was former Mayo All-Ireland winner of 1950/51 Fr Peter Quinn, Liam Scollan, Joe Gilmore and staff from Ireland West Airport; Peter Hynes, Mayo County Manager; Chairperson of the Western Development Commission, Michael Farrell; Sean Hannick, Chair Council for the West, Archbishop Michael Neary of Tuam, V Rev Joseph Quinn, PP Knock, and members of the regional media, members of the Mayo Associaiton in Dublin.
Master of Ceremonies each night was the popular Gerry Glennon, of Mid West Radio.
Stay tuned for future updates and scroll on for previous news!