New local dramas bring history to life

The realities of East Tyrone’s harsh industrial past will be brought back to life during the forthcoming European Heritage Open Days (EHOD) in an online festival called ‘Working with the Past’ launched by the Coalisland Museum & Heritage Centre.

Thursday, 9th September 2021, 1:00 pm

The festival will include four new dramas from Craic Theatre which will be released as videos over September 7-10. In addition, Coalisland and Clonoe Comhaltas have recorded a series of amazing performances of traditional songs in the historic old Coalisland weaving factory.

EHOD 2021 runs September 6-12 with a host of free physical and online events.

With Covid-19 restrictions still in place, opening the Coalisland Museum & Heritage Centre for EHOD 2021 was proving difficult and it was decided to create ‘Working with the Past’ as a digital festival for everyone to enjoy online and learn more about their local history.

Aoibh Johnson, Declan McGrath, Tracy Timlin and Frank Fee starring in four new dramas for the 'Working with the Past' online festival

Funding for the ‘Working with the Past’ festival was provided by Lough Neagh Partnership as part of the Coalisland & East Tyrone - Great Place Scheme, a project by The National Lottery Heritage Fund, with additional support from Mid Ulster District Council.

The four short plays were written by local playwright Mark Shields and have been directed and performed by the hugely talented team at the Craic Theatre. Each play lasts approximately 20 minutes and will be premiered on the internet as a free-to-view video.

The plays are based on real historical characters and feature tales about a lockkeeper’s wife, a stableboy, a miner and a weaver, played by Tracy Timlin, Declan McGrath, Frank Fee and Aoibh Johnson. The stories they tell are often based on actual events over a century ago, when life was very different to today.

The plots include mining disasters, drownings and the mysterious poisoning of five racehorses.

To add even more atmosphere and poignancy to the festival, Coalisland and Clonoe Comhaltas have recorded a stunning series of performances in the Coalisland Museum & Heritage Centre. The talented musicians were given the unique opportunity to play traditional songs in the atmospheric surroundings of the old weaving factory and the results are both breath-taking and beautiful.

The videos for the plays will be released on the Facebook page of Friends of the Coalisland Museum & Heritage Centre: The Lockkeeper’s Wife on Tuesday, September 7; The Stable Boy’s Tale on Wednesday, September 8; The Miner’s Tale on Thursday, September 9; The Weaver’s Tale on Friday, September 10. Each play will be premiered at 7pm on the day specified and accompanied by a video of one of the special performances by Coalisland & Clonoe Comhaltas.

For more information on Coalisland & East Tyrone - Great Place Scheme, please contact Keith Beattie, Industrial Heritage Officer, Lough Neagh Partnership, Email: [email protected] or Tel: 028 7941 7941.

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