Thanks for the memories
From Harry Foy's Book 'Growing up in Portadown in the Thirties and Forties'
To fill the vacuum created by the demise of the Pioneer Players, the C.D.S. was formed in 1948. Its first production was a one act sketch, "The Young Man From Rathmines" with a musical programme called "An Easter Thought". Their next production was a three act play "Today and Yesterday" - the first of many Irish kitchen comedies. The group's big success started with "All Souls Night" produced by Dan McAreavey and winning the premier award at five festivals with several individual trophies awarded to members of the cast. The following year, having swept the boards at festivals across the province, they were crowned "Ulster Champions" in the Opera House, Belfast with their production of "Home Is The Hero". Dan McAreavey won the coveted "Best Actor" award.
From 1954 to 1957 no other group had a bigger following than the C.D.S. Their name was a household word and they really put Portadown on the map with their success - success which produced accolades from top critics and adjudicators, and curtain calls from delighted audiences. In this period, referred to as "the Gold Years", six productions were presented at Ulster Festival Finals, being placed first on four occasions. When the C.D.S. won the Ulster Finals with "Tolka Row" there wasn't a vacant seat in the Opera House which seats about 1000 people. In this event May Diver won the trophy for Best Actress. One is inclined to cherish rosy views of the town's own drama group but when adjudicators from Scotland, England, Ireland and Austria have vied with each other in heaping praise upon them, you have to believe you are right. The Mandeville Cup for Best Actor at Portadown Festival reads as follows:
1952 Harry Foy 1953 Hugh Daly
1954 Dan McAreavey 1955 Michael Duffy
The C.D.S. won its way into the British One Act Finals and the whole society travelled to the Scala Theatre in London, a wonderful achievement.
In saluting the Catholic Dramatic Society I say "Thanks for the memory".
Market Day in
Click below to go
Back to Main Menu