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April's Open Mic Night was populated with great poets, storytellers , musicians and singers at the top of their game. A poignant poem  'The Message' from David Braziel and an English lesson from Finnish standup comedian Mana Mahfoozi completed another entertaining night for the packed crowd in Abbey Lane Theatre.

Try'll not be disappointed. Next one  MAY 31ST.

For a listen to David's poem go to his Facebook page scroll to 'The Message' written after the killing of writer/journalist Lyra McKee.

For an English lesson go to youtube Mana Mahfoozi 'the shit'

Some of those who braved the stage last Friday night after our guests, the McGrath Brothers from Donaghmore were. Mark Brownlee, Rachel Toner,Cathy Carson, Sue Divin, Dymphna Ferran,Kate McLaughlin, Jimmy Rafferty and finishing with the McGraths singalong melody. Cost at door?....£5!


Tartan adorned the tables and the sweet smell of Haggis filled the air in Abbey Lane Theatre as our Open Mic/ Burn’s night got underway.

 The Saltier flag rippled on the screen as the Proclaimers ‘walked 500miles’ then forgot something and had to walk  back ‘500 more’. After a short biography from

     MC Malachi, our mystery piper struck up ‘Oh flower of Scotland’  and the vegetarian Haggis was served with glee to all in attendance!

        Peter Kelly commenced the entertainment with a rendition of Burns’ Peggy Gordon.  Kevin Mc Eneaney recited ‘Sweet Afton’ and duet with Peter on ‘Marie’s Wedding’ with great gusto.

      Our first guest Karen Mooney from Moira read her own poem ‘A tribute to Rabbie Burns’...... then Pat Fairon took the class with the Lost Vocabulary of Ulster Scots pertaining to Burns’ era.

His well constructed flash cards tested the knowledge and memory of the pang’ fu d (crammed) audience. Not a pechin (cough) nor pluff (short, sharp breath) was heard from his attentive class.

Our Burns’ section was rounded off by Mark Brownlee reciting ‘Ae fond kiss’ a favourite of Burns aficionados.

The regular Open Mic got underway with the amazing Cathy Carson. What a talent this lady is, a great writer and actor with a delivery that stops a room.

 Her two pieces, ‘Wake up call’  and ‘November Sun’ had the audience spellbound and will live on in the memory of great moments at these Open Mic’s.

   Dymphna got the short straw as she had to follow Cathy, but no other could do it better, with her poem where she weaved the unlikely combination of ‘Donald where’s your trousers?’ and Brexit!

A new face to Abbey Lane is Stephen Edwards on guitar who sang Neil Young’s ‘The damage done’. Karen Mooney gave us her incisive poem ‘ A More Sustainable Future’ a metaphor of present day life

cleverly set in a garden. Michael Callaghan then had us all singing along ‘She’s my girl, she’s my world’.

 Jack Watson, another welcome new comer, gave us Cassius’ speech from Julius Caesar. Delivered with aplomb, this young actor from Armagh captivated the room with his performance.

   Regular contributor, Thomas Healy, came to the stage with a poem and song. This young man’s writing and voice are going from strength to strength.  Malachi rounded of the night with his story

‘A hell of a Day in Heaven’ a very true, funny story of his ordeal in the Mournes with a Perfect Modern Family!

     Thanks are due to all who helped out Monique, Felim jr, Peter, Colin, Aisling and Bridie. The more hands the easier the task.

 Which reminds me of our new competition ‘Family saying and quotes’. This is where we stop for a moment and all have a chat about old saying that yourself or your family or friends used.

 Some appropriately from Robbie Burns himsel started the conversation. Tonight’s winners were Marie Crowley and Pat Fairon. But I think all of us were winners tonight as the entertainment was 1st class.

Next date Feb 22nd and our guests are ‘Dirty Words’ aka Colin Hassard vocals , Ashley Manners guitar and Seonaid Murray sax . A selection of songs and poems from ..’’Two of the best on today’s scene’’NI Poetry News.


Pablo Doherty kicked off our last Open Mic of 2018 in great style. Our guest Poet from the shores of Lough Neagh near Lurgan fitted in his energetic performance while also being the taxi driver for his son who played at Holme Park the same evening. It's how busy Daddy/Poets juggle opportunities and parental duties these days. In a twenty minute slot he managed to touch on just about every subject from Family life to Brexit to Sport and even a mention of Santa! On twenty one minutes he grabbed his bag and coat and bolted out the door waving a farewell to all. The son's team were beaten  but Pablo was on a high from staring in Abbey Lane. Well done Pablo!

We also had great contributions from Hilary Good, Michael O'Callaghan,Rachel Toner before the break. Afterwards Armagh Ukelele Jam and T J Smart  nearly stole the show with our night's MC Felim Rafferty finding difficulity getting them stopped. Dymphna Ferran, Tim Hanna Joe Mc Cool and Malachi all with stories and poetry. We then had a very sad announcement by Felim saying the famous Limerick Laugh's competition and the Appulse Meter  would be put to bed tonight. The winner in a very close run event, picked totally by random (reverse alphabetic order) was Tim.

The Management will be working to publish a booklet of Limericks featured in the three years of the compo and have it for sale as a fund raiser to the new this space. Thanks to all our contributors and guests over the year and all being well we'll see you back on 25th Jan 2019! Merry Xmas and Happy New Year from all at Armagh Theatre Group.

We end this year's sessions of Open Mic's next week, 30th Nov. Over the course of the year we have had great entertainment from all our contributors. Those brave souls who find themselves standing on stage, behind the Mic. Or sitting on the famous painted chair and giving us their 'all'.

To  our guest artists throughout the months, to the JHISS and the now famous July Open Mic, but especially all our supporters and contributors who reguarly fill Abbey Lane on the last Friday's to launch into poetry, stories, song,music and written. Mainly because of an enthusiasm,a burning desire to entertain, and be entertained....THANK YOU.

We finish the year, as we started in January with Mel McMahon, by welcoming another poet from  Lurgan, spoken word artist Pablo Doherty. Like Mel Paul's work shows incisiveness of the world we live in delivered with humour and fun. So, usual warning of limited seats, nibbles and wine but unlimited talent!

Pablo's window   

We will take this opportunity to wish all our supporters and friends the best of the coming season! (there now, ive said it)

In the great tradition of Co Armagh bards Donald McKenna is up there with the best. Here he regales us with his poem 'The Tragic tale of Tim McCann'  at June's Open Mic Night in Abbey Lane Theatre while the summer heat soared to 30o


''Unreal!''  That was the verdict of the comedian Mark Shields (Coalisland) after experiencing his first Abbey Lane Open Mic. It was also the verdict of the big crowd who enjoyed Marks' take on life, especially in a Tyrone shirt. You can take the man out of Tyrone but.... His critical eye exposed traits of himself, family, neighbours, fellow 'islanders and Strabane! All very funny and probably not true at all. Hope to see you back Mark. Damien Mallon, poet,singer read from his collection 'Off the trees'. Beautiful depiction of life in and around Keady, of young love and cowboys and indians  That's were a lot of cowboys are from Damien! And from the same neck of the woods Donald McKenna, bard extraordinaire had the audience entralled with his ode to 'The tragic tale of Tim McCann' .Kate McGrail introduced us to technological problems and 'commercial breaks' during here great story of her family's trip to see Pope John Paul in 1979. I'll approach committee to install wifi Kate before next time. No such problems with her rendition of Spancil Hill. As a daughter of the famous Harry, the apple didn't fall far from the tree. Thanks to; new comer Malachy Trainor  with poem 'To be performed' orginal work, Bridie Heaney with F Ledwidge's 'June'. Dymphna Ferran's 'Royal wedding', Tim Hanna's dreamteam of NIre taking on Russia  in the World Cup and Malachi 's poem ''Im sure I didn't''. Singers Margueirite with 'Limerick your a lady',Michael Callaghan singing Elvis's 'falling in love with you' and Ann Marie McCourt with 'Streets of London' or Paris!

  Too all our contributors in the Limerick Laughs competition Goretti, Tim, Byddi, Donald,Kate, Joe,Pat,Dymphna, Paddy, Bridie and all others unmentioned THANK YOU! We finished up with the conclusion of Ann Gilmartin's storytelling tale of 'Our Friend with the black mask'  Definitely a NI Screen movie there Ann to follow on from 'Game of Tyrones' sorry Thrones. Thats thon Mark Shiels AGAIN!

With  temperatures in the bammy 20's and the long May bank holiday starting, excuses for missing this month's Open Mic were strong and understandable. But the magic of these evenings still enticed our faithful audience to come in the dozens to entertain and be entertained by their fellow attendees.

This month we were entralled by musicians, singers, authors, poets, yarn spinners and the afore mentioned Magician Ed. Our usual 'warm up' act Dynamic Dymphna gave us red hot flushes with some very personal insurance advice! Author of 'From March to November' Byddi Lee read excerpts from this her first published novel which had all the ladies rubbing their hands with glee and all the gentlemen cringing in notional agony...the War of the Sexes continues. Paddy Mohan fought back on the men's side with his guitar and singing.Malachi's poems 'Golden Cow' and 'Ma wee black pan' followed and the first half was called after Thomas showed us his new talent on flute and whistle.

After some  complimentary refreshments we introduced this month's guest Ed Masters to resounding applause. His enthusiastic assistant for the evening, Paddy Hamill, played the part like a pro.... Ooing! and Aaaing! in all the right places as Ed showed us amazing card tricks. Helen Donnelly then volunteered from the crowd to assist Ed with a flying table trick after she got over the shock of meeting Ed. We were still trying to figure out how he managed that.! Another first for the  OMN's Illusionst and Magician Ed Masters.

Our second author/playwrite was Fionnuala Cassidy from CoTyrone reading excerpts from her latest work for the first time in public. 'Smoke and mirrors' her working title, left the audience wanting more. This evening had another first with Esmee O'Donnell playing her cello beautifully unaccompanied. Marty sang his version of  'Windmills of your mind' and we had the welcome return of Michael Callaghan recently out off hospital to sing from the floor 'My Eileen is waiting for me'. Dymphna won the meal for 2 Limerick Laughs compo and so ended another great night's entertainment in Abbey Lane. Next date Friday 29th June. Limerick Laughs theme for JUNE 'There was a wee woman called June'.  Big thanks to all who attended and participated on the night.

Abbey Lane Theatre was packed as April's OMN got underway with internationally renowned guest artists Finbar Magee & Breige Quinn giving us a taste of their vast repertoire. Finbar's witty and thought provoking songs beautifully accompanied by Breige on fiddle had the audience entralled instantly. Their finale 'Facebook Friday Night' will go down as one of the golden memories of Open Mic Night's moments.


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We were also graced by the appearances of Champions of Performance Poetry Colin Hassard (Banbridge) and Jimmy Rafferty(Armagh) both poets revered in their selected styles

 And what can one say about Dynamic Dymphna from Dungannon. She had us in stitches with her yarns about smuggling sausages  and Timbuktu! Her Big Tom poem was a fitting salute to a great entertainer. Also on stage during the night Brendan McGrath;country melody. Mark Brownlee; original poetry.Ann Gilmartin; story telling. Marguerite Kelly; singing A bunch of Thyme. McGrath brothers, Declan & Brendan; mandolin/guitar trad music. Limerick laughs competition won by Dymphna via audience clapometer with a very strong 'Fantastic' followed by Ann, Byddi, Jimmy,and Joan. well done everyone! Malachi with a weather warning 'Casting clouts' and finishing with Finbar and Breige. Great night FOR A £5!

Mel will appear at Abbey Lane Open Mic Night Friday 26th Jan. First excerpt appropriate for the weather that's in it:


for Pat and Fiona McParland

When the storm arrived in the small hours of the night

we were unprepared-

it flicked up slates, whipped off roofs

and found its voice in the dry throat

of our attic.

Our hearts shook

as if our lives had been entered

by an intruder

and our words to each other

were as gentle as the leaves dropping

onto lawns as the wind passed.


TIESfor Anne McParland

Such a simple deed

now marks the passage of time.

I bend to tie my mother's shoes

where once she bent for mine.