Sunday 26 May 2019

Patrick Bergin to bring back a taste of Hollywood to Macroom

Lee Valley players set to bring long-long musical by brother of 1916 hero Thomas McDonagh to the stage

Hollywood actor Patrick Bergin in his role as the evil Dr Philip Cross in the Lee Valley Players 2016 production of ‘Murder at Shandy Hall - The Musical’
Hollywood actor Patrick Bergin in his role as the evil Dr Philip Cross in the Lee Valley Players 2016 production of ‘Murder at Shandy Hall - The Musical’

Bill Browne

Hollywood star Patrick Bergin is set to renew his successful relationship with the Lee Valley Players, playing the lead role in a brand new musical set to make its world première this month in Macroom. 

'The Blarney Stone', an enchanting marriage of real life drama and the magical world of Irish mythology, will run for five eagerly anticipated performances at the Riverside Park Hotel. 

Bergin, who starred in the Lee Valley Players 2016 world première of  'Murder at Shandy Hall - The Musical', will play the lead role of Patrick Joseph McSweeney in the new production alongside a team of amateur actors under the direction of Cathal McCabe and musical director Ann Dunne. 

The Lee Valley Players are no strangers to taking on the challenge of ground-breaking productions, last year following up 'Murder at Shandy Hall' with 'Sir Henry' - which also enjoyed a run on the stage of the Cork Opera House. These followed on from the success of other earlier productions including 'South Pacific', 'Oklahoma', 'Oliver' and 'The Sound of Music'. 

This year they have chosen to draw their inspiration from a work written in 1928 by John McDonagh, the brother of poet, patriot and 1916 hero Thomas McDonagh, that had lain hidden for the best part of a century. 

Primarily aimed at the American market, plans were well advanced to première it on Broadway with a musical score provided by the controversial by German composer Fritz Brase who was brought to Ireland in 1923 to be the director of the new Irish Army's School of Music. 

However, a sudden illness caused the cancellation of the production and both the script and score disappeared only to be found by chance by Bergin in the McDonagh's home village of Cloughjordan, Co Tipperary. 

He took them to Ann Dunne to read through and they agreed that the musical had to finally be brought to the stage and approached Pat O'Connell of the Lee Valley Enterprise board with their proposition. He greeted the project with unbridled enthusiasm and it was decided to secure the services of Pat McCabe to bring the idea to life. 

He, in turn, revised the script and score, and prepared the work for final casting. 

The result is an ingenious combination of contemporary drama and Irish mythology, with a local band of leprechauns taking centre stage as they show just who holds the upper hand in Blarney. 

Fritz Brase's natural musical style of Central European operetta has been ingeniously blended with traditional Irish songs and dances to create a toe-tapping score quite unlike anything seen before on the Irish stage. 

Fill of laughter, tears, clouds and sunshine, 'The Blarney Stone' promises to be a feelgood gem of a musical suitable for all the family and one of the greatest theatrical events ever to be staged in Macroom. 

Performances of the musical will take place at the Riverside Park on April 25, 26 & 27 and May 3 and 4 at 8pm. Tickets, prised at €20 (adults) and €16 (children and students) are now available from or by calling 087 166 3395. 

A special one-off performance of the musical will also take place at the Cork Opera House on May 29. 

Tickets for the show are available at