Huge interest in local production of Friel classic

Lieutenant Yolland (Fionn Robinson) and Máire (Cathleen Bradley).

Lieutenant Yolland (Fionn Robinson) and Máire (Cathleen Bradley).

JUST four months after the passing of Brian Friel, the award-winning Butt Drama Circle (BDC) will bring one of his best loved plays back to the stage.

Directed by JC Bonar, ‘Translations’ will run for four nights from Wednesday, February 24, at the intimate Balor Theatre in Ballybofey, before touring the regional heats of the All Ireland Amateur Drama Festival.


Already, interest is huge as this will be one of the first productions of a Friel play in Ireland since his death. A performance is also planned next month for Glenties, the origin of the fictional ‘Ballybeg’, and his final resting place. The venue is the Market Hall Community Centre at 8 pm on Friday, February 12. Indeed, the BDC is only one of two theatre groups to have a licence to produce a Friel play in 2016.  

Translations was the first production of the legendary Field Day Theatre Company which was founded by Friel and Stephen Rea. Its debut performance at The Guildhall in Derry featured a stellar cast including, among others, Mick Lally, Liam Neeson, Ray McAnally and Rea.

Set in hedge school in the townland of Ballybeg in 1833, Translations traces the impact a department of British Army Royal Engineers has on the Irish speaking community there.

Initially, the engineers are simply charting the local countryside and anglicising the native Irish placenames for the Ordnance Survey. Assisted by Owen (Shaun Byrne) – son of the local schoolmaster – they are perceived to be harmless, even friendly, and are welcomed by the townspeople for the most part.

One of the engineers – Lieutenant Yolland (Fionn Robinson) – becomes especially captivated both by Irish culture and by local girl Máire (Cathleen Bradley) – who is also the object of the affections of the schoolmaster’s son Manus (Pauric Gallagher).

When Yolland disappears, the engineers’ presence takes a sinister turn as they rampage across Ballybeg, threatening to shoot livestock, evict villagers and destroy homes if he is not found and the Colonial character of their actions becomes clear.

In the ensuing events, everybody will have cause to examine their culture, their roots and their heart.
Translations will run from Wednesday February 24 to Saturday 27th at 8pm. For information and bookings, contact the Balor Arts Centre on 07491 31840 or log on to


The full cast is : Pauric Gallagher (Manus); Marina Marcinetova (Sarah); Jim Holohan (Jimmy Jack); Esther McCorkell (Bridget); Pauric Duffy (Doalty); Cathleen Bradley (Máire); James Sweeney (Hugh); Sean Byrne (Owen); Gerry Doherty (Captain Lancey) and Fionn Robinson as Lieutenant Yolland.


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