In February 1996 Barnstorm embarked on a 16-month project with playwright Ken Bourke and the people of Castlecomer to devise and present a community play which would be unique to that community, reflective of its rich history and its people.

The Comer Story written by Ken Bourke, in collaboration with the people of Castlecomer, was presented in the Castlecomer Community Hall, and represented a major achievement for the company in its aim to provide wider access to theatre within local communities, and marked a first for the company and the county.

The Comer Story was presented in the Castlecomer Community Hall (1997) and subsequently in the Watergate Theatre, Kilkenny (1998).

The 'Comer Story

The 'Comer Story

Comments of cast members:

“…Before, when people used to ask me where I lived, I used to explain ‘Comer by saying “it’s a little town fourteen miles from Kilkenny”, but now when poeple ask me I take pride in telling them all about ‘Comer, past and present….”

“…They say laughter is ‘the best medicine’! We certainly did laugh – old friendships were strengthened, new friendships begun, never to be forgotten….”

“… I didn’t have a lot of confidence in myself but as the weeks and months went by I started to enjoy and let myself go. Still, at that time, I swore that I would never go on stage, except to help backstage. But here I am with only two weeks to go and I am really looking forward to the challenge….”

“… Friendships were formed with new people and also with people you already knew but had very little contact with before the play. Hopefully all these friendships will continue long after the play has finished….”

“… At our Christmas party night in the Springhill Hotel, our table was labelled The Castlecomer Community Play Group. There was a lot of truth in the title. We are all adults with inhibitions, but in this group we were allowed to become children playing freely and having genuine fun….”

“… Although I knew snippets of the history of Castlecomer from my schooldays The ‘Comer Story has instilled a certain pride in me in being a Castlecomer woman, which I already had but which has now become deep-rooted and alive….”

“… I was always passing through, knowing very few people and very little about the area. I went along to the introductory meeting on my own and I was hooked!… It wasn’t the usual core group, but something new and exciting; and everyone felt immediately part of. … I thank Barnstorm for their huge initiative and enthusiasm. Each of us was treated equally and gently pushed! Thanks for giving me the chance to make new friends in my new home….”

“… As my father once trod the boards in the old Parochial Hall in Castlecomer in many pantomimes with the Deenside Players and as a member of the Castlecomer Male Voice Choir , it is with great pride and a certian melancholy that I carry on this family tradition in The ‘Comer Story. I value and appreciate the experience….”

The ‘Comer Story

Written by Ken Bourke

in collaboration with the community of Castlecomer

Jack Chubby BrennanJenny Mary O’BrienMaisie Angela Molloy
Daisie Annette O’ConnorPhyllis Elizabeth KeatingPru Maria Cunningham
Hannah Sharon MolloyNora Trish WallaceLiam Paddy Broderick
Timmy Jason CarrollMartin Eddie LawlorOwen Ken Kavanagh
Pat Midgie DowdWilliam Kevin McCannLady Ann Audrey Murray
John John CooganMags Amelia DunneKate Marion Stokes
Mary Bernie ButlerJoan Claire BrennanJim Kevin McCann
Priest Chris BrookesLady Sarah Audrey MurrayCharlie Midgie Dowd
Patjoe Ken KavanaghMick Eddie LawlorLarry Kevin McCann
Bridie Donna-Marie DunneJudy Rachel FlemingDick Chris Brookes
Old Woman Jason Carroll

Director:Philip HardyProduction Manager:Veronica McGuire
Production Coordinator:Vincent DempseySet Design:Harry Harris
Costume Design:Bernie McCoyLighting Design:Jim Daly
Lighting Technician:Arthur DrohanGraphic Design:A4 Associates
Original Music:John RyanWorkshop Facilitator:Roisin Gribbin
Admin (‘Comer office):Elizabeth KeatingSound:Bob Hall
Lighting Operator:John BrennanSet Construction:P.J Collins, John Collins,
Eddie Brennan & Michael Brennan
Set Painter:Martin Molloy‘Thrust’ Stage:Eamonn Kelsey
Tiered Seating:Donal Molloy of ScafformLighting Rig:Stage Lighting
P.R. & Marketing:Paul O’ReillySales & Distribution:Evelyn O’Carroll
Props:Frances BaylonBackstage Crew:Catherine Dunne, Eileen Brennan,
Breda Shortall
Front of House:Liz & Anthony JoyceCostumes:Rita Walsh, Majella Brennan,
Celine O’Neill
Programmes:Lily O’Neill, Catherine Walker
Box Office:Teresa Hetherington, Marie Murtagh, Michelle Power
Caterers:Maggie Brennan, Julie Comerford
Steward:Johnny Hetherington
Workshops:Helena Devlin (Coordinator)
Rebecca Bartlett (Writing & Performance)
Maeve Ingoldsby (Writing for Theatre)
Trish Glynn & Cathy Prince (Movement & Sound)
Ben Hennessey (Set Design)
Jim Daly (Lighting Design)
Mark O’Brien (Acting)
Community Play Committee:Trish Wallace, Sharon Molloy, Amelia Dunne, Marion Stokes,
Elizabeth Keating, Ken Bourke, Philip Hardy
Patrons:Joseph Coogan (Mayor of Castlecomer), Margaret McGrath (History Society),
Monsignor Michael Ryan P.P., Reverend Andrew Orr
Contributors:Margaret McGrath and the Fassadinin History Society, Tom,
Terry and John in the Community Hall, Michael Fogarty,
Beatrice Downey, Nicola Hobson of the Castlecomer Enterprise Group,
S.O.S in Castlecomer, Mark O’Regan and staff of the Avalon Inn,
Brian Tracey, Joe Mooney – Castlecomer Credit Union,
Caroline Kellyand the Board of Directors of the Castlecomer District
Community Development Network,Eamonn Fitzgerald and the Castlecomer
FÁS office, Chris Brookes – Old Folks Housing, Kit Holohan – Social Services,
Deenside Players, Staff and students of the Castlecomer Community School,
Tony Patterson and pupils of the Castlecomer Boys National School,
Gerry Cody and Staff of Watergate Theatre, Mary Dunphy – St Vincent De Paul,
Nick Anton, Tony Collins of the Firkin Crane Centre in Cork, Brian Tracey,
Gerry Johnson of Special Effects Ireland, Dublin Theatre Festival Office,
Pat Maher and Radio Kilkenny, Michael & Joan Fogarty, Paddy McCoohy of
Community Arts Forum in Belfast, Fr. Martin Cleere, Mealy’s Antiques,
Rowes Hardware, Rose Inn Antiques, Keogh’s Antiques of John Street,
Rev. Andrew Orr, and all those who were involved in the devising
and creating of The Comer Story.
For Barnstorm
Artistic Director:Philip HardyCompany Manager:Vincent Dempsey
Administrator:Sandra AdamsProduction Manager:Veronica McGuire
Writer-in-Residence:Maeve IngoldsbyMarketing:Paul O’Reilly
Assistant Admin:Margaret DollardAccounts:Mary Kelly
Maintenance:Ted BarhamCastlecomer Office:Elizabeth Keating
Board of Directors:Emer Foley (Chair), Vincent Dempsey (Secretary), Philip Hardy, Margaret Cosgrave,
Marie Kelly, Maeve Ingoldsby, Mary Mahony

Solicitors:Reidy & FoleyAuditors:O’Neill Foley & Co.