Kevin Barry, Paddy O'Leary, Larry Hannon. Front: Paddy O'Neill, and Larry Bradley of St Conleth's Panto
When Caroline McMullen O’Donnell lost an entire book she was working on when her computer broke, she was devastated and quit writing.
“I just lost the grá for it for a while,” she said.
Time has passed now and she is back, spurred on by her love of panto to pen a humorous and uplifting look at almost sixty years of St Conleth’s Pantomime in Newbridge.
The result, Butterfly in the Wings, will be launched this Friday November 17 in O’Rourke’s Bar at 8pm.
“I have told stories from former cast members from as far back as the 1940s when it all began,” she said.
“I have tried to convey the history of where, when who and how the pantomime was created in a simple and humorous way.”
But the process wasn’t easy and she changed direction after she get bogged down in a more conventional format.
Having been involved in panto for 20 years, this book is her own interpretation of the troop,
She hopes it manages to help people remember the days gone by and jog a happy memory or two.
It is particularly relevant, given St Conleth’s will stage its 58th panto next January titled Rapunzel, making it the longest running panto on the island of Ireland. Over 120 children will be involved in 10 shows staged over eight days.
Jimmy and Lottie Dunny
Caroline got together with some of the more senior members of the troop to hear their stories, such as Paddy O’Leary and his sisters, and Alan Reigh.
She felt it would be a shame if these stories were forgotten.
“There are four words that sum it up,” said Caroline.
“Generation, tradition, talent and generosity. We now have the fourth generation of families involved. It is such a tradition in Newbridge and the town is bursting at the seems with all kinds of talent whether it be directing, producing, writing, musical, so much talent. The generosity shown by the people of Newbridge and the businesses to the panto is huge,” she said.
Of course Jimmy Dunney gets a huge mention. The book will be available at the launch, in Farrell and Nephew and at the Cottage Market on December 2 and 3.
Caroline McMullen O'Donnell