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Donegal Bay and Blue Stacks Festival 2017

28th Sept – 8th October 2017, South & SW Donegal

Keep up to date with all event details on Facebook: @BlueStacksFestival

 17th Donegal Bay and Blue Stacks Festival Commences on Thursday, 28th September!

This is the 17th year of the Donegal Bay and Blue Stacks Festival. An initiative of Donegal County Council Cultural Services, the Festival is delighted to support artists and engage communities throughout South and South West Donegal with another packed programme of theatre, music of all kinds, spectacle, literary and visual events and events for children.

FREE Festival Programme

The FREE Festival Programme will be widely available throughout the South and South West of the county, from this weekend. Look out for it in local shops, libraries, hotels, restaurants, tourist information points and at all participating venues.

The full Festival Programne is also available on the Donegal County Council websites ,, and

Download Full Programme of 2017 Events Here

Donegal Bay and Blue Stacks Festival 2017 – Programme Overview

New Theatre – in Killybegs and Bundoran

We are especially excited with our fishing community themed co-production with An Grianán Theatre, Shoot The Gear, which will open the Festival in Killybegs on Thursday night next, September 28th. and will run nightly at 8.00pm at the Fish Auction Hall (permit to be confirmed) until Saturday, September 30. The play has been created from stories, memories and reminiscences gathered from among the fishing community in Killybegs, by An Grianán Theatre’s  theatre-artist-in-residence, Guy Le Jeune.

The Shoot the Gear project has been facilitated by the Killybegs Fishermens Organization, whose support has proved crucial in gaining access to, and the trust of, a broad range of people connected to the industry, from fishermen and their wives and families, to buyers and sellers, net makers and menders, boatyard men, harbour staff, factory workers and more.

Shoot The Gear will be performed by a multi-talented cast of local Donegal actors, singers, musicians – Fionn Robinson, Louise Connaghan, Orlaith Gilchreest and Ronan Carr. Come along and enjoy a night of original songs, laughter and stories drawn from the real life experiences of the fishing community of Killybegs.

 We also have another brand new theatre show, in Bundoran on Friday the 29th., when Maura Logue’s End Of The Line – O’Connell’s Dance Hall 1957 recalls the last days of the Great Northern Railway and dancehall days by the seaside in Donegal. The play –  to be staged at the Atlantic Aparthotel from 9.00pm – recreates a typical night in the life of O’Carrolls Dancehall where its time to get the swing skirts on and the hair slicked back as the audience mingles with and evesdrops on the goings-on among a cast of characters typical of the era – merry widows, shy batchelors, young bucks and jiving maidens.   The production is presented by Dark Daughter Productions, in association with Magh Éne Historical Society, and is part of the on-going Bundoran Express Railway Heritage Festival.

Touring Theatre – Balor Rep and Donegal Drama Circle

Theatre companies on the road is always a welcome facet of the Festival and this year promises a pair of very special treats. First off are the Balor Rep who open their hugely entertaining Ray Cooney comedy, Why Not Stay For Breakfast ?, at the Balor Arts Centre, Ballybofey on Wednesday and Thursday night, September 27 -28.  Thereafter, they play the Abbey Arts Centre, Ballyshannon on Wednesday, October4, Ionad Teampall Chróine, Dungloe on Friday, October 6 and Halla Mhuire, Gleann Choilm Cille on Sunday, October 8.

Meanwhile, Donegal Drama Circle make the short trip to Inver to stage their production of David Mamet’s classic play, American Buffalo, at Inver Community Centre.  The company enjoyed great success at this venue last year with Martin McDonagh’s Cripple of Inishmaan and they are looking forward very much to their return visit. The cast includes company stalwarts Christian Carbin (who also directs) and Conor Friery,  who are joined by young local actor Oisín Joyce.

Music and Literary

A particularly strong music programme boasts performances by Donegal’s 2017 TG4 Gradam Ceoil Award winners, Rita Gallagher and Mairéad Ní Mhaonaigh, the Donegal Voices Choir (performing Handel’s Coronation Anthems), In Their Thousands, Honor Heffernan, Siobhán Peoples, Aidan O’Donnell, the Common Grounds Collective, West Coast Jazz, Breandan Quinn, Ted Ponsonby and a tribute to the great Carrigart balladeer and fiddle player John McGettigan, who was a huge star on the Irish American music scene in the 1920s and 30s.

Visiting and local writers participating will include Annemarie Ní Churreáin, performing the Donegal launch of her debut poetry collection, Bloodroot, RTÉ Sunday Miscellany regular Denise Blake and short story writers Gerard O’Beirne and Alan McMonagle.  They will be reading at the Abbey Arts Centre, Ballyshannon on Sunday afternoon, October 8.

Honor and Dorothy

Top Irish jazz singer and actress Honor Heffernan will open the Music Programme with a special performance of her acclaimed Dorothy Parker themed show, The Whistling Girl ( ‘A Celebration of the Works of Dorothy Parker’), at the Balor Arts Centre, Ballybofey on Friday night, September 29. She will be accompanied by a world class ensemble, featuring the cream Irish jazz musicians including Trevor Knight (keyboards), Garvan Gallagher (double bass), Ed Deane (guitar), Ciaran Wilde and Bill Blackmore ( brass and horns) and Tom Jamieson (drums).

Rita and Mairéad

One of the highlights of the Music Programme promises to be the special night of traditional song and music – at the Balor Arts Centre, Ballybofey on Thursday, October 5 – celebrating Donegal’s fabulous double win at this year’s Gradam Ceoil TG4 Traditional Music Awards, with longtime Crossroads resident and Frosses native Rita Gallagher who received the Amhránaí na Bliana/Traditional Singer of the Year award and Gaoth Dobhair singer, musician and Altan founder-member, Mairéad Ní Mhaonaigh, who won the overall Gradam Ceoil/Traditional Musician of the Year award.

Visual and Carnival

Thanks to the inaugural Che Abú Festival in Ardara, the Cuban Ambassador to Ireland, H.E. Dr. Hermes Herrera Hernández will be the Guest of Honour at the Official Opening of Emer O’Shea’s fabulous From Celebrating Cuba – From The Bluestacks to The Carribean  photographic exhibition at the Abbey Arts Centre on Saturday evening, October 7.

That’s also Carnival Parade Night in Ballyshannon. This year’s theme is a tribute to the Erneside town’s most famous literary son, William Allingham, with Carnival making a contemporary response to one of his best-loved poems, The Fairies.

Carnival Workshops and rehearsals are well under way in Ballyshannon and Bundoran, led by a team of dedicated facilitators under the direction of carnival producers, Dark Daughter Productions. Up to 200 prospective performers – including students from Magh Éne College Bundoran, Coláiste Cholm Cille Ballyshannon and visiting students to Ireland from the Donegal Language School Study Abroad Programme, ID Languages and the Turf ‘n’ Surf USA Gap Year Students, as well as performers from many local adult community groups, including Ernedale Heights Womens Group and the Adult Artists Group – are participating with great enthusiasm in workshops led by artists and makers Tom Meskell, Fidelma Flannely, Marie Loughlin, Stephanie Pawula, Niamh Currid, Corey McDermot and Michelle Bell.

Carnival Finalé

The Carnival Finalé, Where Fairies Play, has been devised and produced by Maria Loughlin and directed by Michelle Bell. It will offer a narrative and dance drama that focuses on the Thorn Tree and its magical fairy power, as mentioned in William Allinghams’ poem. With Thorn Tree sculpture by Diarmaid Flaherty (Blue Raincoat Theatre) and music by Alain Finan and Niamh Currid with the TY Drummers.



The Festival is presented each autumn by Donegal County Council, in partnership with a wide range of cultural and community development partner organizations, throughout South and South West Donegal. It is funded by Donegal County Council and The Arts Council/An Comhairle Ealaíon.

Bookáil / Booking

For all Festival events, tickets will be available for purchase at the venue on the evening of the performance. To avoid disappointment, however, please plan to arrive at the venue at least 20 minutes before the advertised  showtime. Should you wish, you may also book certain performances in advance, at the venues below:

Tickets and Booking at An Grianán Theatre, Letterkenny T: 074 912 0777

Tickets and Booking at The Abbey Arts Centre, Ballyshannon T: 074 985 1375

Tickets and Booking at The Balor Arts Centre, Ballybofey T: 074 913 1840



For General Information on The Festival, please contact The Festival Office / Donegal County Library:

Tel. 074 91 53900

Follow us on Facebook: @BlueStacksFestival / Hashtag #DBBF

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