The Butterfly

From Harry Foy's Book  'Growing up in Portadown in the Thirties and Forties'

We are always warned about appearing on stage with children and animals but no one ever mentions insects. During the war, a Portadown drama group, known as the Pioneer Players, was very popular with their presentations of Irish kitchen comedies. As well as playing in the local hall they also traveled to rural village halls.. The local hall was lit with homemade footlights. This was a strip of wood which was fitted with lamp holders about ten inches apart. Large jam tins were then cut into and placed behind the holders so that the polished tin acted as a reflector. Unfortunately country halls did not have this sophisticated lighting system. Usually there were two Tilley lamps on stage.

I remember once we were asked to do a show in Loughbrickland. The hall had a corrugated roof and the two Tilley lamps provided the lighting. it was a stormy night and a strong wind raced around the building. One minute you would be shouting to make yourself heard and then you would feel like an idiot as the wind died down. The play was "Moodie In Manitoba", the story of a wee Belfast man who takes up a contract to paint the buildings on a Canadian farm. In one scene, Moodie appears on stage wearing a long white nightgown and his bowler hat. Everything was going well until a butterfly came out from its resting place in the roof space, settled on the rim of Moodie's hat and began to walk along it. The hall erupted with laughter. Matches were flicked at the intruder by stage staff to no avail. When "Moodie" realised what was going on, he turned the hat around and attempted to continue but the butterfly was attracted by the lamplight and returned to the front of the hat. As it came into view the audience stood up and cheered. It couldn't have been rehearsed better.

"Moodie", a real thespian, decided the show must go on so he walked to the wings where one of the stage crew removed the offending butterfly. It was a great night's entertainment but the Oscar went to the butterfly.
Market Day in Portadown.

Street gangs and fogging orchards.

The wee shops.

Colourful vendors.

The Canon's trip.

Greenaway's ghost.

Summer on the Bann.

The Great Lemonade Robbery.

My first day at school.

The packman.

Even the dog understood the language.


Our House.

A long throw since skittles game was born.

The Gas Man Cometh.

In tune with the band.

Clubs and tickmen.

Donald Campbell Had nothing on us.

The Obinsville Cowboys.

Singing in the streets.

Such good sports.

The days of the sand quays.

The magic of Christmas.

Bombs - not sandwiches.

Skipping, football and cigarette cards.

Escape to the movies.

My first taste of plays.

Smuggling knew no borders.

The tale of the pigs.

Three brass balls.

Thanks for the memories.

First class show!.

Who could forget Mary Ann!.

Health remedies.

Fondly Remembered.

Going To The Dogs.


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