Charlotte Bronte’s 200th – Guest Readers and Soloists

To celebrate ‘The Miscellany for Charlotte’ we were honoured to have a selection of guest readers and performers:


A welcome by The Reverend Patrick Towers and the Reverend Kenneth Kearon, Bishop of Limerick, Killaloe & Clonfert

Reader : Olivia Murray The Rocky Road to the Altar
Soloist : Josephine Martin Ode to Joy ( Beethoven )

Reader : Frances Browner Reader I Married Him
Soloist : Michaela Keenaghan Wuthering Heights

Reader : Cora Stronge Smith When thou sleepest, lulled in night (Charlotte Brontë)
Reader : James Scully Arthur’s Return to Banagher
Soloist : Josephine Martin Oft in the Stilly Night (Thomas Moore)

Reader : Eileen Casey Flow
Soloist : Áine Cox The Town I Left Behind

Soloist : Michaela Keenaghan The Cherished Children of 1916.

Festival Launch: George Smith
Unveiling of churchyard plaque – Reverend Kenneth Kearon, Bishop of Limerick, Killaloe & Clonfert
Laying of wreath on Arthurs Bells Memorial – Nicola DalyUnveiling of Charlotte’s Way plaque and Charlotte’s Way Celebration


Charlotte Bronte’s 200th Birthday

This wonderful evening commenced with  ‘A Miscellany for Charlotte‘ in St. Paul’s Church. There was a selection of readings, music and song related to the great novelist and her husband Arthur Bell Nicholls of Banagher.  Immediately afterwards ‘Charlotte’s Birthday Celebrations’, was held on the grounds of Charlotte’s Way, (formerly Hill House).

Here are some images of this very special event.

That Beats Banagher 2016

To say the festival programme for “That Beats Banagher 2016” has something for everybody is no idle boast.

From hurling to food, from kayaking to crafting, from boating to Bronte readings it is all happening in one festival where the list of things to choose from certainly beats Banagher.

For those with a mind for writing fiction or creating there are writing workshops, comic-book classes, readings and recitals. If it’s a song or a tune that takes your fancy there is live music every day.

Those coming to Banagher to explore the majestic Shannon can do it in a kayak, on a wakeboard or on the local long boat, The Shionn Mara

Some might want to take to the field of play away from the water’s edge and St Rynagh’s GAA club is open for business with blitzes galore and games to suit the fit, the supple, the stiff and the sore.

The finer things in life are there too like Victorian High Tea or the chance to review a 19th century military parade. And what festival is complete without a blast of fireworks. On Saturday night the skies over the town will be ablaze with light and colour.

Yes there’s all of that and more from Friday, May 13 to Sunday, May 15 at “That Beats Banagher 2016.”6 Info Signs - fragment 3 2


Call out for casting for a Pageant, to be held as part of   ‘That Beats Banagher’ Festival.

We are looking for young boys, ages 6 – 9 and aspiring actors aged 18 -25 years.

We are bringing a classical painting, ‘Military Manoeuvres’, to life by re-enacting  the scene as closely as possible. We will video the event with the aim of reproducing a contemporary ‘take’ on a scene which shows life as it was for many of our citizens before the events of 1916.

The painting was done in 1891, by the Irish artist Richard Moynan. It hangs in the National Gallery in Merrion Sq. Dublin. It is one of the most widely loved paintings by children when visiting the gallery.

It depicts a small group of local children who march in formation playing an assortment of homemade instruments, with a mischievous scamp, who  wears a real Battalion helmet defiantly,  leads  the group. The Royal Irish Soldier watches in dismay while his girlfriend tries to calm him down…

Contact Artist Patricia

Military Maneouvers

About the painting:

This painting illustrates a crowded street-scene depicting a group of children amusing themselves by pretending to be a regimental band. The title of the work is humorous and although Moynan shows the children’s ragged dress, he focuses mainly on the boys’ ability to have fun. Their toys include saucepan lids as cymbals, an upturned bucket serving as a drum, a biscuit tin, a coffee pot, a paper trumpet, a penny whistle and a wooden sword. Their leader carries a broom and wears a splendid brass helmet, which contrasts with his general apparel. This helmet was obviously ‘borrowed’  from some source. This attracts the attention of a passing soldier who happens to recognize the elaborate headgear as being a black-plumed band helmet from his own regiment, the 4th (Royal Irish) Dragoon Guards and  steps threateningly towards him while passers-by stop and stare.


There are 15 children in the band, all individual in facial type and dress and although this picture contains over 30 figures, the scene appears to be naturalistic and spacious. The viewer’s eye-movement is guided by the interaction between the young ‘drum-major’ and the soldier, and is, in turn, reinforced by the anxious glances of the flower seller in the foreground. The painting depicts a very recognisable town scene. It is thought it may represent Leixlip, the town in which the artist was born. However there is no evidence of a church spire which features in the painting. It is more likely that the town was made up of a mixture of various towns as it was painted in his studio from various drawings Moynan did while preparing his studies. I choose Banagher as I  worked here with the  Faroige group in 2013 and I became very interested in the history of this brave little town.  It’s barrack walls still loom large across the street scape and  street looks ideally placed,  flanked by its twin spires.

The intention will be to stage a Pageant which will re-enact  the drama in its entirety with local actors and characters. I have already had a number of real enthusiasts from Faroige who are rearing to get started.

We will get the youngsters to make their instruments to be played as they march through the town watched by the adults. We will have the main protagonists stop strategically, in Tableau, at which time a video will be made of this moment in time.

It is hoped that afterwards the film will be edited  in the exact same scale as the original painting and have it hung in juxtaposition in the National Gallery. It will be a slow motion piece with the movements of each person barely perceptible. Hopefully there will be a breeze, or perhaps a dog will bark to bring the painting to life. Eventually this video will come back home and will be available for all to see.

If you would like to be part of this event, either as one of the players, or to give a hand in the preparations, particularly in helping with the costume production, sewing, fitting and instrument making elements, please contact Patricia Hurl.  

Charlotte Brontë 200 Celebrations

As part of the second That Beats Banagher Festival  an evening to celebrate Charlotte Bronte’s 200th birthday will be held on Thursday 21st April.

The evening commences at 7p.m. with ‘A Miscellany for Charlotte‘ in St. Paul’s Church. This will be a selection of readings, music and song related to the great novelist and her husband Arthur Bell Nicholls of Banagher.  Immediately afterwards ‘Charlotte’s Birthday Celebrations’, will be held on the grounds of Charlotte’s Way, (formerly Hill House).

Admission to this event is strictly limited and by ticket only. Tickets are free.
Bookings can be made online at HERE or by calling to the Offaly Local Development  Company offices upstairs in Crank House on Main Street.
For further information contact  Aileen at 087 943 0489  or Roisin at 087 812 4986.
An opportunity to make a donation supporting That Beats Banagher Festival will arise during the evening. The main festival will take place from Friday to Sunday,  13th – 15th May.
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Charlotte Bronte Birthday Celebration

7pm to 10.30pm

 – Miscellany (Readings & Music) St Pauls Church – Unveiling of wall plaque  – Charlottes Birthday Celebration at Charlotte’s Way –

This event is to celebrate Charlotte Bronte’s bi-centenary. Tickets for this event are limited.

Click HERE to book

*Tickets are free of charge, however donations will be accepted on the night

Carmel Rourke, Josephine Devery and Cora Stronge Smith strolling along to the Official opening of the Trollope Bridge at Banagher Pitch and Putt Club during the That Beats Banagher Festival. Picture: Ger Rogers/HR Photo.

Carmel Rourke, Josephine Devery and Cora Stronge Smith strolling along to the Official opening of the Trollope Bridge at Banagher Pitch and Putt Club during the That Beats Banagher Festival 2015. Picture: Ger Rogers/HR Photo.

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The Festival 2015 – Sunday

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