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Mount Henry Art Exhibition opening

A few shots from the opening of Mount Henry Art Studio (Mary Slevin, Laura Amy Dunne, Aisling Brennan) exhibition last Thursday night. The exhibitions runs until 24 July..



Birr Stage Guild take second at AIMS

BSG placed second at the Association of Irish Musical Societies Awards in the Best Visual Catagory for theire production of Fiddler On The Roof. Congrats to all involved from Birr Theatre & Arts Centre



Carolyn Holt wins The Trench Award 2015

On last Sunday night an appreciative audience attended the awards concert at Birr Theatre & Arts Centre where they were treated to a wonderfully diverse and interesting programme of classical music and song.   Six finalists for The Trench Award 2015 were selected from many submissions by students with a midland connection, now attending third level conservatories and colleges of music in Ireland. 

Carolyn Holt (Co Kildare) won the overall bursary valued at €2,500.  Carolyn is currently a fourth year student on the BA Music Performance at the RIAM. She has won a scholarship to study for an MA in Vocal Performance at the RAM in London, in September 2015.  She has performed a number of solo operatic roles with the RIAM. As a chorus member she has performed with Opera Theatre Company in Bizet's Carmen, and with Wide Open Opera in John Adams Nixon in China. Carolyn toured Germany with the ‘Schleswig–Holstein Chorakademie’ in 2013 and the ‘Lubeck Chorakademie’ in 2014.  She will perform as a soloist with the Dun Laoghaire Choral Society as part of their Complete Mozart Masses Project this May. 



Gavin Brennan (Co Offaly) achieved the second award of €1,000.  Gavin is currently studying for a Masters of Music Performance at the RIAM.  He was nominated for the Irish Young Musician of the Year in 2012 and 2013.   In 2013 Gavin toured internationally with the European Youth Wind Orchestra.  He received the Rising Stars Award, from the Galway Music Residency and RTE ConTempo String Quartet, 2013-2015.  Gavin regularly performs with the RTE ConTempo String Quartet.


The evening also featured performances from soprano Erin Dollard (Co Laois), violinist  Richard Thomas (Co Kildare), soprano Rachel Goode (East Galway), tenor Philip Keegan (Co Offaly) all displaying a high level of accomplishment in their chosen repertoire.  


The selection panel of Fergus Sheil (Wide Open Opera and Opera Theatre Company), John Molloy (International Bass Baritone) and Enda O’Connor (MA, G.D.P.E.) had a very difficult decision to make when selecting the overall winner.  They were greatly impressed by the musicality and technique shown by each performer all of whom are names to watch for the future.    Under a new Musical Futures initiative, the young baritone, Dylan Rooney from Nenagh performed two arias demonstrating him as a worthy recipient of scholarship support.   


A highlight of the evening was the recital on the Irish Harp from special guest Tríona Marshall, in advance of launching her new album this summer. 


A special thank you is extended to The Trench Trust and Salters Sterling for supporting and expanding this annual project;  thank you also to Birr Lions Club; Marcella Corcoran Kennedy TD; Maureen de Forge; Sheila & Arnold Fanning; for funding support. 


Bursary Award... The Future

Coordinator of the event, Maureen de Forge said “We are looking to the future at supporting this event to become nationally recognised in the years ahead. To expand to a weekend Festival of classical music including recitals, master classes, short opera works, choral workshops etc. would be the eventual aspiration”.


Philanthropic donations are encouraged from the community of Birr and beyond, to support talented musicians and singers from the Midlands as they pursue their musical training and embark on professional careers.  Please contact Maureen de Forge or Emma Nee Haslam if you would like to be part of this exciting programme. 


The Trench Award 2015

Sunday 19 April, 7.30pm


Don’t miss this unique opportunity to hear some of the finest young musicians of the future perform a repertoire of solo instrument and song as they compete for the Trench Award 2015.


Following on the success of last years inaugural event, Birr Theatre & Arts Centre sought submissions from musicians and singers with a midlands connection, who are pursuing a professional performance career in classical instrument or voice. 


The Trench Award (€2,500) aims to assist a young singer or musician develop their professional career through further study at home or abroad.  A second bursary funded by Birr Lions Club and others (€1,000) will also be awarded. 

Musical Futures 

Under a new musical futures initiative, sponsorship will be offered to a designated young singer beginning full time 3rd level Vocal Performance Studies in Autumn 2015.


2014 Award recipient, Heather Fogarty (mezzo-soprano) had a busy year using last year’s bursary to spend six weeks in Berlin studying German with a view to entering the Hochschule für Musik Hanns Eisler this autumn. During the year she performed Miranda in L’Ormindo (RAIM) and nursing sister in Suor Angelica in the Abbey Theatre.



The selection panel for Sunday night are:

Fergus Sheil: Conductor, Artistic Director Opera Theatre Company and Wide Open Opera; John Molloy: Bass-Baritone; Enda O'Connor: Music Director/Conductor;

Accompanist: Richard McGrath; Co-ordinator: Maureen de Forge.



The performance starts at 7.30pm



Stop Motion Workshop Huge Success 


On Saturday 3 January Birr Theatre & Arts Centre in in association with Brick Flicks ran two workshops for 8-13 yr olds. Kids brought their favourite lego characters along with them to make them come alive in a stop motion film.

The 3 hour workshops were both filled with 20 budding young film makers. 


A second workshop will be held on March 28 and early booking is advised 


Morning Workshop

Afternoon Workshop


Birr Theatre & Arts Centre are calling for submissions for the 7th Annual Common Ground – an exhibition of work by artists living in the Midlands to be held from December 2014 – January 2015.


This year the theme for Common Ground (referring to a group of artists coming together to exhibit)

will be “Organic” (all mediums considered) 


The exhibition will be curated by a guest selector and it is intended that the resulting exhibition will showcase the exceptional talent and diversity of Visual Artists in the Midlands today.


We would like to encourage you to make a submission. This process is not intended to place any artist over another, but to offer a professionally selected exhibition opportunity for all artists in the area.


For Full Details Click HERE




Theatre App

Birr Theatre & Arts Centre are happy to anounce we have teamed up with Downlaod the app onto your Android or iPhone to keep up to date with whats coming up in your favourite midlands theatre. Click the button below to download the app.


Birr Stage Guild Wins at AIMS 


Birr Stage Guild are delighted with their huge success, winning the award for Best House Management at the AIMS (Association of Irish Musical Societies) Awards Ceremony at the INEC, Killarney last Saturday night for their recent production of South Pacific.   Fred Boulton (Guild Secretary) also received a nominated for Unsung Hero and the Guild are delighted he was one of the eight finalists.     


Following the success of 8 nominations, resulting in 3 wins for Oliver! in 2013, Birr Stage Guild moved into the higher category of the Gilbert Section for this year’s South Pacific and they are all delighted with this year’sachievement.   The House Management Team for South Pacific were:  Esther Boulton, Lorraine Brophy, Sinead Bergin, Noelle Brummell (also member of the 1982 team – the last time this award was won by Birr Stage Guild), Anne Coughlan, Noreen Davis, Kathleen Garahy, Patt Grogan, Barbara Hanamy, Nuala Hogan, Tony Hogan, Tommy Hynes, Maeve Larkin, Frank McNamara, Emma Nee Haslam, Michelle O’Brien, Mary O’Dwyer, Anne O’Meara, Aileen Quaid and Joe Standish.   


In congratulating the team, chairman of Birr Stage Guild, Adrian Sheils said, “the audience will always judge a performance by what they see on stage but there’s so much more going on back stage and out front….they have always provided a professional level of service to our audience and we’re delighted to win this award in acknowledgment of their continuous voluntary efforts.”   House Manager, Emma Nee Haslam said “we are all so delighted about this achievement… so many of the Guild members volunteer not only for Birr Stage Guild events but for events throughout the year at Birr Theatre & Arts Centre and it’s great that their voluntary commitment is acknowledged in these All-Ireland Awards”. 


During the AIMS celebrations, each year, one society has the honour of making the centre pieces for each dinner table for the Friday night’s entertainment and this year Birr Stage Guild were invited to take on that task.  The theme was ‘The Fear of 13’ (as the event fell on Friday 13th) and with the creative genius of George Dempsey and his team the centre pieces created were much admired by all attending the event.


Birr Stage Guild are already busy planning their musical for 2015 but there will be plenty of stage activity before then.  The Guild will be calling for auditions soon for their autumn theatre production and a sub-committee are tasked with organising the One Act Drama Festival over the October Bank Holiday weekend.  See for more details

Its been too long...

Its been too long...

Our nomination

Our nomination

And the winner is.....

And the winner is.....

Adrian Sheils & Emma Nee Haslam

Adrian Sheils & Emma Nee Haslam

Best House Managment

Best House Managment

The Trophy

The Trophy

Best Front of House in the Country

Best Front of House in the Country


Call For Submissions 

Plans are underway for this year's Birr Vintage Week & Arts Festival which will run from Friday August 1st - Friday August 8th. The Arts programme for this Festival continues to go from strength to strength and Expressions of Interest are now being sought from visual artists interested in participating. For further please click HERE



Award Nomination

We are delighted to be shortlisted for the 'Best Business Website Catagory' in this year's Midlands Gateway Chamber Best in Business Awards.

Speaking at the announcement of this year’s finalists, Jennifer Meehan, Operations Manager for Midlands Gateway Chamber said: “There was a huge interest in some of the new categories that we introduced this year, particularly the Best Business Website Award and Best Customer Focus Award. We added these new categories as we wanted to reflect and honour the changes in business today. Businesses have obviously recognized the importance of their website, social media and in particular listening to their customers needs, as these 2 new categories received the most entries making it an even harder decision for the judges”


To read the full article please click HERE


Festival call for Artists

Plans are underway for this year's Birr Vintage Week & Arts Festival which will run from Friday August 1st - Friday August 8th. The Arts programme for this Festival continues to go from strength to strength and Expressions of Interest are now being sought from visual artists interested in participating. For further information please click HERE

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