The Enniskillen Drama Festival returns with a feast of theatre this year from Friday, March 1 to Saturday, March 9 at the Ardhowen Theatre.

The festival offers a wide range of productions by groups, in competition with each other, from all across the island of Ireland, many of whom have previously won awards and accolades.

Opening with Newpoint Players from Newry, who qualified for the All Ireland Finals in 2023, the visiting troupe will present an adaptation of J. M. Synge’s, ‘In the Shadow of the Glen’, a reimagined work by Sean Traynor.

On the first Saturday, Bridge Drama are welcomed with Tom Murphy’s play, ‘The Wake’.

Murphy’s script is fuelled by fury; a response to Ireland’s hidden histories which were exposed in the 1990s. This is a powerful, haunting drama with dark comedic moments.

Sunday, March 3 sees Dunmore Amateur Dramatic Society perform Brian Friel’s epic play, ‘The Faith Healer’.

One of the masterpieces of Ireland’s greatest living playwright, Faith Healer weaves together the stories of a travelling healer, his wife and his manager, from their different versions of the healer’s performances, and a terrible event at the centre of the drama.

Clarence Players arrive on Monday, March 4 with ‘Gaslight’, a term that has become embedded in contemporary language.


This is the powerful story of Bella Manningham, a young woman psychologically dominated by her husband, Jack.

While Jack is out on the town each evening, his wife stays at home – she cannot explain the disappearance of familiar objects, the mysterious footsteps heard overhead, nor the ghostly flickering of the living room gaslight ...

On Tuesday, March 5, the festival welcomes Newtownstewart Theatre Company to perform Enda Walsh’s dark comedy drama, ‘The New Electric Ballroom’.

Trapped in the years that have passed since their halcyon days at The New Electric Ballroom, three sisters in a remote fishing village are still obsessed by darker memories of something resembling romance, and the heartbreaking realisation that there’s more to life to be had, if only you have the courage.

Ever-popular previous festival winners Ballyshannon return on Wednesday, March 6 with a relevant and important piece, ‘Margaret’, by Shaun Byrne.

The play joins Margaret Thatcher near the end of her life and explores her troubled relationships with the Irish, miners, her children, the public and her male Cabinet politicians, as past demons, guilt and successes return to torment, flatter and deceive her.

“You have no enemies, you say? If you have none – then small is the work that you have done.” One not to miss.

The festival committee is very excited about Thursday, March 7, as Enniskillen Theatre Company return after a year’s hiatus with ‘Lonesome West’, by Martin McDonagh.

His black comic portrayal of modern, rural Ireland will have you laughing and horrified in equal measures, following on from previous plays, ‘Sive’, and ‘The Night Alive’.

The audience can expect a superb production, directed by Ena Trimble.

Friday, March 8 sees another classic McDonagh play as Dooega from Achill Island, Co. Mayo, perform ‘The Cripple of Innismaan’, a merciless portrayal of a world so comically cramped and mean-spirited that hope is an affront to its order; a bleak yet uproariously funny play.

Closing night

The closing night of the festival sees the return of very talented Clontarf Players – who won many awards with ‘Importance of Being Earnest’ last year – with ‘Radium Girls’, by D. W. Gregory.

In 1926, radium was a miracle cure, Madame Curie an international celebrity, and luminous watches the latest rage – until the girls who painted them began to fall ill with a mysterious disease.

Inspired by a true story, Radium Girls traces the courageous efforts of Grace Fryer, a dial painter, to obtain justice against the might of the Radium Corporation.

It’s a powerful and heart-warming drama about the resilience of the human spirit akin to the TV drama, ‘Mr Bates versus the Post Office’.

Saturday, March 9 will also be the Festival Awards Evening, where adjudicator Aodh McCay will give the results and awards of the competition.

Aodh is hugely experienced, having adjudicated many festivals, and indeed, national finals as well.

He has even performed on the Ardhowen stage and is looking forward to meeting the Fermanagh audiences once again.

At a time of austerity, and of massive cuts to public services, The Arts have seen huge reductions in funding.

It is vitally important to recognise that Enniskillen Drama Festival would not be possible without the financial support of local businesses, who sponsor shows, and advertise in the programme.

This year, the festival introduced a new sponsorship model and are indebted to the businesses who have become its inaugural main sponsors.


These include Modern Tyres, which has supported the festival for 44 years, demonstrating superb commitment to the local community; Experience Enniskillen, which works tirelessly to promote local tourism and the economy; The Killyhevlin Hotel, which accommodate the adjudicator for the week, and has worked with the festival to provide reduced rates to travelling groups, and will be offering a great value pre-theatre menu for audiences; and Encirc, who join as a new sponsor, and have consistently supported community groups.

Their support, coupled with show sponsors Crudden and Dolan, Credit Union, Tracey Concrete, O’Dohertys Fine Meats, Lochside Garages, as well as the generosity of local businesses who advertise in the programme, are vital to ensuring the survival of the festival.

The business community of Fermanagh is fundamental to the success of the festival, and this is a powerful indication of their support to their local community.

Enniskillen Drama Festival also appreciates the continued support from Fermanagh and Omagh District Council, and their practical advice and help in a very challenging environment.

Enniskillen Drama Festival’s work goes beyond the nine days in March and is committed to developing and supporting drama participation in rural communities.

Drama and English students are offered a special schools ticket discount so they can access a range of plays and listen to performance analysis by an experienced adjudicator, which will hopefully inspire their own work.

The committee have exciting plans for the future, including hosting youth and adult drama workshops across Fermanagh, introducing a One Act Drama Festival in October/November, and bidding to host the All Ireland Final in 2030.

Above all, the festival is grateful for the support of its audiences, without whom no festival can survive.

Offering terrific value for money, and an eclectic range of performances, the festival is urging the public to support all the groups this year, but particularly Enniskillen Theatre Company, who always deliver high production values with a talented local cast.

Tickets are available at the Ardhowen Box Office, where a season ticket for nine shows is only £60, or a special £30 ticket for four shows, offering fantastic value.