History of Nenagh Choral Society
Nenagh Choral Society celebrated a special Ruby year in 2010 in recognition of its re-establishment in 1970. It wasn't until 1971 that the revived society put on its first production with Cinderella being staged in the then Nenagh Town Hall. Over 40 shows later and 40 years after first stepping onto the boards of that very stage the society returned to the town halls new Arts Centre in 2011 for its production "Hot Mikado". 2011/2012 season sees the society take on a fresh challenge with its staging of two shows. Les Miserables in September followed by Beauty and the Beast in March 2012. That same principal followed for the 2012/13 season with the society staging West Side Story in October 2012.
The Choral society has however enjoyed two lives. Music has always been part and parcel of Nenagh’s social life and even though the Choral society as such didn’t come into being first time round until 1949, Gilbert and Sullivan productions were staged in earlier years. Indeed Balfe’s The Bohemian Girl was staged in Nenagh by a local group in 1926. There was a lack of continuity; however in 1949 a determined effort was made to bring a more consistent approach.
Then, in the Nenagh Guardian of March 12th an advert drew attention to a meeting to be held in Loreto Hall on Friday 18th with a view to forming ‘an Operatic Society’. This was duly done. Fr John Hayes was elected chairman, Tom Brophy secretary and Noreen Hayes treasurer. Bobby O’Connell was appointed Musical Director and the first show staged in the Scouts Hall was Lionel Monkton’s The Quaker Girl. It ran for five nights between May 22nd and 26th returning on May 29th ‘by public demand’. There was no show in ’50 but in ’51 the choral society returned with The Belle of New York after which followed Show Boat, Desert Song, Land of Smiles, The Student Prince and Countess Maritza. Financial difficulties saw the curtain fall in 1958 after Martiza and despite several attempts to revive the Society it didn’t happen. As the lights went up for the highly successful 2009 production of ‘Oliver’ Nenagh Choral Society celebrated its Diamond jubilee year in recognition of its original founding in 1949.
And so to 1970 in what would be the start of over forty years of annual productions since, the torch was relight by Tom Brophy, Sean Meagher, George Maher, Billy Fitzpatrick, Jimmy Touhy and our former esteemed honorary president and society patron Teddy Morgan whom on reviving the society quickly ensured that Nenagh Choral Society’s were back in the lights. A series of pantomimes and revues were staged up to ’74 in order to build up a sound financial base. Then in 1975 My Fair Lady was staged with Donald Swan and Anne Meagher. South Pacific followed in ’76 with Anne Meagher and Gerry Slevin. Both these shows were staged in the Town Hall and in ’77 a return was made to the Scouts Hall for the staging of The Merry Widow featuring Barbara Graham (Dublin) and Joe Hegarty. The Scouts Hall continued to be the Choral Society ‘home’ from there on, a show staged annually. It continued to fill our needs until its ever declining condition forced a move to St Mary’s convent Secondary School Hall in 1997 for Brigadoon followed by kiss me Kate in ’98.
To celebrate the golden jubilee of the society in 1999, it was decided to return to our roots, the scouts hall and with the assistance of FAS and our ever willing members a ‘patch-up’ job was undertaken so that our jubilee choice Show Boat might be made as comfortable as possible for our valued patrons. After that (some ten years ago) we returned to the convent theatre for a few years, then to the town hall before ‘discovering’ the vocational school theatre in 2007 for Oklahoma! followed by Carousel and then 2009’s highly successful production of Oliver. With Anything Goes being Nenagh Choral Society’s choice production for 2010's Ruby Celebration it drew a close to our time at Nenagh Vocational School while the school embarks on a redevelopment programme. As one door closes another opens and in 2011 Nenagh had a new Arts Centre with seating for just under 200 people so the society decided to return to where it all started for its 2011 staging of Hot Mikado.
2011/12 saw the society engage directly with the CBS school where it has staged musicals since opening with Les Miserables in September 2011 every six months. This show was followed by Beauty and the Beast (March 2012), West Side Story (Oct 2012) and the society returned there in March 2013 with the Sound of Music. 2013 saw the society continue its successful run with the staging of Grease in October 2013 followed by Jesus Christ Superstar in March 2014. See you in the Autumn for our first 2014/15 production of 'The Phantom of the Opera'
What show could we possibly do next. Why not let us know...
Sean Meagher (R.I.P.)
Gerry Slevin (R.I.P)