Drama on glory of dancehall days goes on Galway tour

Peter Daffy as JP, Kevin Glynn as Mattie, Bernie O’Shea as Gerry, Maria Lockett as Dr Rosario, Helen Leech as Maisie, Imelda Counihan as Vera. Niall Finnegan as Tommy, and Shane Counihan as Jack Jnr in If Only.
Peter Daffy as JP, Kevin Glynn as Mattie, Bernie O’Shea as Gerry, Maria Lockett as Dr Rosario, Helen Leech as Maisie, Imelda Counihan as Vera. Niall Finnegan as Tommy, and Shane Counihan as Jack Jnr in If Only.

A drama that will transport audiences back to the halcyon days of the dancehall days is currently on a tour of Galway, being presented by Gort’s Wild Swan Theatre Group.

If Only is a comedy that “will bring you up, bring you down, bring you over and bring you back”, according to its co-author Shane Counihan.

Shane and his fellow Gort man Kevin Glynn wrote If Only last year, and it became a massive hit for the amateur company, selling nine nights in Gort and two nights in Glór Theatre, Ennis, as well as playing an Taibhdhearc in Galway City, where it also sold out. Not bad for a drama written out of necessity,

“The Wild Swan group had new members from Corofin in Co Clare who were great musicians and we also had a local man, Niall Finnegan, who is a great musician,” explains 26-year-old Shane.

“We were looking for a play to suit the crew we had, and we couldn’t find one. So, Shane suggested to Kevin that they write one.

Kevin, who is in his 50s, agreed to give it a go.

“Then we asked ourselves, ‘what’s the biggest thing that Gort was known for?’ and it was the Classic Ballroom,” Shane says.

Now gone, the Classic Ballroom on the Ennis Road was owned by the Mullins family in its heyday and the playwrights were fortunate in being able to call on ex-proprietor Noel Mullins who happily shared his memories.

Shane’s late grandmother, Mai, was also a fount of information about the legendary ballroom where showbands such as The Dixies, the Royal and the Mainliners had performed. She died before If Only was produced but had read the script and loved it. Her grandson describes as “a hilarious comedy that will bring a tear to your eye at the end”.

For more, read this week’s Galway City Tribune.