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The Aemilian Theatre opens in Mallow

A new state of the art theatre was officially opened in Mallow on Friday, 21st October by Mr Pat Nolan, aka Barry O’Hanlon, of Fair City fame.

In 2007 the Board of Management of St. Mary’s Secondary School, Mallow, Co. Cork took the decision to refurbish an old school hall and create a state of the art theatre for school and community use.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Pictured above (LtoR) are Jim Woulfe, Chairman of St. Mary's School Board of Management, Sr. Brid Biggane, School Principal, Actor Pat Nolan and Mary Harrington, Deputy Principal at the official opening of the Aemilian Theatre.

The old hall was originally built in 1966 and served as an all-purpose hall in the old school, being used for PE, Drama, and Concerts and as an examination centre. In the planning for the new school, which was opened in 2004, the Department of Education listed the various blocks in the old school, including the old hall, for demolition.

Thanks to the vision of the teaching staff, the Board of Management applied to the Department for permission to retain the old hall for the purpose of Music and Drama. The Department reluctantly agreed but only on condition that the building be ‘decoupled’ from the school. That meant that the school would never receive grant aid for either refurbishment or maintenance of the old hall. However, thanks to the generosity of the local community, parents, staff, teachers it has been possible to convert the old hall into a brand new theatre.

A group of volunteers, called ‘The Friends of St Mary’s Secondary School’, was assembled at the outset of the refurbishment project, and with the help of students, staff, and local community groups, a significant amount of money was raised over the past 4 years. The overall cost of the refurbishment project amounted to €700,000, of which less than 50% was provided in the form of a bank loan which is in the process of being repaid by on-going annual fundraising activities.

In 2009, plans were drawn up and building began in March 2010. The keys were handed over on November 1st, 2010. Now that the refurbishment project has been completed, the doors of the new theatre are now open for school and community performances and activities.

Sr Helen Roberts (Sr Aemilian):

It gives everyone involved great pleasure to announce that the name of this wonderful new theatre is ‘The Aemilian Theatre’ in honour of the late Sr. Helen Roberts (who was formerly known as Sr. Aemilian).
Sr. Helen (Sr. Aemilian) was born and raised in Mallow, where she attended St. Mary’s Secondary School prior to entering the Mercy Order in Cobh. Following her graduation as a teacher from UCC she returned to Mallow to teach in St. Mary’s Secondary School from the 1970’s until she became Principal of the school from 1980 to 1988. During her time in St. Mary’s, Sr. Helen was actively involved in many aspects of school life. Among her many achievements, she was foremost in the development and training of the St. Mary’s Basketball team which represented Ireland in Italy at the European Schools Championship in 1977.

Official Opening:

The Aemilian theatre was officially opened on 21st October at 5:00pm by Mr. Pat Nolan, otherwise known as Barry O’Hanlon of ‘Fair City’ fame, who is, according to the storyline, currently in prison for murder. The theatre was blessed at the official opening by Sr. Helen’s brother, Fr Donal Roberts.

Open for Business:

The new theatre is very well equipped with spacious foyer, stage, and auditorium, dressing rooms, kitchen and lighting/sound control room. It can seat up to 200 people and it is available for hire to all theatre and drama groups in Cork County and indeed further afield.

The first performance to take place in the Aemilian Theatre will be ‘Santa Ponza or Bust’, on 18th and 19th November. This is the stage show that took the Dragons fiery breath away. For the first time ever in the Irish version of The Dragons Den all five dragons invested in what is already being talked about as the smash hit comedy of the year. ‘Santa Ponsa or Bust’ is the first part of the Santa Ponsa trilogy and it has captivated audiences wherever it has played.

‘Santa Ponsa or Bust’ is written and performed by Pakie O’Callaghan and Frank Twomey, stars of RTE’s Bull Island and Joe Duffy’s Funny Friday in which they play the parts of Michael Noonan, Mary O’Rourke, Charlie McCreevey, David Norris, Brian Cowen, Joe Higgins etc.

This is show not to be missed in the new Aemilian theatre.

For more information or bookings contact Ger at 086 0576738 or visit the website: www.stmarysmallow.com.

Photos from the Ceremony

(Photos courtesy of John Allen Photography)

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