Wednesday 24 January 2018

The Glens Centre is the cultural heart of the town

Last year the Glens Centre in Manorhamilton produced a play with inmates from Loughan House Prison in nearby Blacklion, County Cavan with celebrated playwright and actor Seamus O'Rourke.

A project funded by the Irish Prison Services, the production called 'The Boat' was co-written by the prisoners. The play was a resounding success, attended by the most senior people in the Irish Prison Services.

Afterwards the prisoners held a question and answers session in which they got to talk about their needs. This was just one of the many interesting projects taken on by the Glens Centre.

The theatre is the cultural heart of Manorhamilton and beyond with a catchment area stretching from Sligo to Donegal, Cavan to Fermanagh.

Officially opened in 1995 by the then president Mary Robinson, the rendered and restored Methodist Church took on a new life as a thriving arts centre. Many high profile names have thread the boards here. Damien Dempsey is a regular each season while The Abbey Theatre choose to perform here too. Other musicians include Duke Special, The 4 of Us, Lisa Hannigan and Dervish.

Some like Cathy Jordan have recorded albums in the studio here and there are big plans to expand the facilities as part of the renovations as Ray Duffy explains: "We have recorded 27 records so far. The plan is to include a new studio in the auditorium which will be a state of the art recording studio of international standards that any body could use.

"We are also looking at the concept of being able to live stream events online to a very high quality. Lots of Leitrim people live away and this would allow Irish centres in Manchester or London for example to live stream our shows."

As well as staging gigs and plays, the Glens Centre is increasingly moving towards a space where arts are developed.

Susan McKay says: "We like to develop new work in the Glens. Plays have started here and toured nationwide. We run writers workshops and drama groups and we want to collaborate with more local artists on shared ventures."

As an arts venue, the centre is not afraid to think outside the box. For culture night this Friday, 22nd September, there will be a performance of the Stolen Child by the Rabbit's Riot Theatre company at the Glencar Waterfall. That performance will run alongside workshops for children and promises to be something special.

Sligo Champion

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