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Against the backdrop of 7 Hills Blues festival starting, sellout shows in the MarketPlace Theatre, RyderCup and Patrick Kielty's

 Late Late show on TV among other distractions, we had another full house in Abbey Lane Theatre last Friday.

We were spoilt by the talent on stage throughout the evening from musicians and singers of the highest quality. Poets, writers and yarnspinners graced us with their insight, humour and wit. And an early surprise visit  from St Nicolas himself finished of the night with dreams of white a christmas.

Not only all that, but a wonderful raffle at half time of prizes the like has not been seen for a long time.

No! they wern't out of date or pre-used or recycled. We would like to thank all those who bought tickets on the night even if you didn't win. To the family who cleaned up on lucky can you get!

Contributors on the night Terry Christian, wonderful singer songwriter (Downpatrick): Matthew Toner, poet, Armagh: Theo Sinton singer/guitar Tandragee; Byddi Lee, writer/playwrite/author Armagh; Kate McLaughlin solo singer/ techo comedian Armagh: John McAndrew, yarnspinner/storyteller Moira; Note this brilliant young duet, Ruby and Caitlin Quinn guitar and vocals, Co Tyrone; and Dermot McConaghy poet, Lurgan; 

Our guest artist for the evening Conchur White sang songs from his excellent forthcoming debut Album ' Swirling Violets'

This young singer/songwriter regaled the audience with his exceptional voice and guitar playing to their collective delight. A pleasure to have Conchur visit us as our guest and we wish him well in his future musical career.

Hard act to follow but Malachi Kelly ,Armagh made the most of the dying applause for Conchur to start his poetry slot followed by Terry Christian, Matthew Toner, Theo Sinton on second runs the finally but not least Daniel Bacon as 'Santa' had us all singing ' I'm dreaming of a White Christmas' far too early! 


Thanks to all who helped with putting the evening together MC Rachel, Tim (door and bouncer) Raffle tickets (Byddi/Rachel/Malachi and the clean up crew to clear all away for ther Youth Group sessions next morning. 

Our next Open Mic last Friday October 27th, doors open 7.45pm £5 entry ,BYOB. All welcome.


A rousing set from the wonderful 'Woodbees' got us all singing along at this month's Open Mic after an international flavour from our contributors.  Poland, France and England were all represented along with nearer to home Crossgar, Dungannon and the darker reaches of Umgola. 

MC on the night Rachel Toner called for contributions from poet John Henderson with his memories of home town Liverpool. Matthew Toner's short poem  'Over thinking'. CoDown's Joseph Conlon's yarn 'Time for Kindness' and poem 'Teachers'. Up next was Mark Brownlee with an excerpt from his forthcomming novelette themed on mental health ( This piece, chatting up a French student you fancy when your French is far from fancy .

The eagerly awaited return of Dymphna Ferran, after her lay-up last month, was enthusiastically applauded and she didn't disappoint. Yarns about 'Murphy' , Nuns and asses and doubledecker buses kept us all in laughter.

Malachi Kelly acknowledged the 10th anniversay of Seamus Heaney's passing with the bard's ' The Conway Stewart' and his own poems 'He has matured' and 'Armagh and Don't forget me Da'.

We broke for the much anticipated raffle with some unbelievable prizes being  snapped up by the lucky punters. Then our first Polish contributor swept to the stage. Agata Banc who sang, for the first time in public, a traditional Polish song ' Hey Teksanski'  and another star emerges from Abbey Lane. 

Hard to follow Agata but our guest artists 'The Woodbees' entertain us with golden oldies and sing-a-long tunes for the next few slots Pauline McDonald, Elma McEneaney ( vocals and Ukeleles) and 'Rocky' (guitar).

Dymphna returned and her poem about her own mother passing with dementia was very moving. Malachi's piece on the Art of Conversation and then 'The Woodbee's were enticed back to finish the night with their newly found lead singer Agata who's powerful voice belied her previous shyness. 

All in all another great wee night in Abbey Lane. Thanks go to all the audience who came, contributors and guests 'The Woodbees', ticket collectors, and members who 'cleared the stage' for the next rehearsals of 'Impact' coming to MPT in November. Last but not least Rachel Toner for her exquisite Master of Ceremonies talents.

Remember Flash Fiction Armagh on in the Long Meadow Cider brewery 7th Sept as part of the Armagh Food and Cider Festival . Tickets 

Next Open Mic is on 29th September where we continue to give voice to talented poets, writers, musicians, and singers in the homely atmosphere of Abbey Lane Theatre.

Just confirmed as Guest Artists for August OMN 'The Woodbees' Ukulele and singalong band! 

Talented ladies Elma Mc Eneaney and Pauline McDonald front this exciting local group along with organising the ever popular 'Orchard Ukes'. So get your singing voices in order for Friday night and come down to Abbey Lane Theatre Armagh for a night of music, song, poetry and craic. Doors open 7.45pm £5 at door. Slots 5mins on stage under lights with a supportive audience to entertain , BYOB ,Raffle prizes and much more!




 Racquel McKee Poet and Educationalist


Dennis McCloskey: The singing Taxi Driver

What a cracking John Hewitt International Space Station of an Open Mic we had in Abbey Lane this year.

To quote the two Ronnies intro ‘and in a packed programme tonight…’ we had poets and writers, musicians and yarnspinners, singers and storytellers and a three ball juggler telling jokes.

Our talented contributors were POETS; Yvonne Boyle, Stan Galloway, Jay Rafferty, Ger Duffy, Nichole Yurcaba, Raquel McKee, Damien B Donnelly, Siobhan Flynn, Mollie Maguire, John Henderson, Sandra McD-Hill, Rachel Toner, Daniel Bacon and in abstention Dymphna Ferran.

SINGERS/MUSICIANS;  Theo Sinton, Sandra McD-Hill, Thomas Healy, Dennis McCloskey and Conchar White.

WRITERS/YARNS/STORYTELLERS; Therese Morgan, Joy Redmond, Mark Brownlee, Louis Graham and Adrian Millar.

 Our first ever Juggling comedian Brendan Fahy and by no means least our GUEST ARTIST for the night COLIN (Loud jacket) HASSARD who regaled us with his acerbic wit and humour in his unique poetic style.

Thanks also to our audience for their warm reception to all our artists. To Sandra our outdoor Box Office receptionist who squeezed all those fivers off you. To members of Armagh Theatre Group who helped with setting up and clearing away and lastly John Hewitt International Summer School for allowing us to be a small part of such an iconic week in  Armagh City’s calendar.

Our next Open Mic is on 25th August Abbey Lane Theatre in the heart of old Armagh City 8pm.

Poet: Damien B Donnelly

Brendan Fahy, Juggler and Jokes (at the same time)


This month's winners are presented by Rachel Toner

Top prize £30 goes to Ellen McKenna; 'I wish' topic.

I Wish
If we were more considerate,
Less greedy, less judgemental,
More respectful of each other
And our world,
Wouldn't this earth be a better place?
I wish this could be so.


Jenny Murray ( Highly commended);  'Nostalgic memories' topic

Fearlessly running, skipping, hoping and jumping, without a care in this world. 
finding contentment picking a little daisy 
to make my accessorised jewellery. 
Harmless, creative and curious fun, those days i miss. fondly. 



Eugene Dugan-Bause (Highly commended); 'Mental health' topic 

Robust, sane, strong, clear minded, sensible, acumen, balanced, whole.
Good judgement, resilient, eudemonia, comprehensive, fit.
Why do we immediately think of mental ill health 
whenever mental health is mentioned?


'BORDER TALK'  - Expression of Interest Form
Storytellers of Ireland in partnership with The Armstrong Storytelling Trust have recently launched a joint cross border storytelling project called 'Border Talk'.  Funded by the International Fund for Ireland (IFI), the project promises to deliver cross border, cross community storytelling events and training programmes to promote the tradition of oral storytelling and in turn develop a network of storytellers who can deliver cross-border events, leading to increased cross-border activities and reconciliation amongst border communities.  The border area is a unique landscape with a rich heritage in the oral tradition of storytelling. We invite expressions of interest from anyone from the border counties of Armagh and Monaghan for Phase 1 of this project. This EOI seeks to establish a group of participants from these counties in a bespoke storytelling training program, leading to a National Open College Network (NOCN) Level 2 Unit in Oral Storytelling skills for performance.

The training will provide participants with essential storytelling skills. Training will include research work as well as presentation skills required to tell stories to an audience.  Some preparation work will also be required outside of contact (class) time.  Candidates will be required to deliver a short oral storytelling performance and collate a small portfolio of evidence for their final assessment.  A laptop / computer with internet access will be essential to take part in the course.

Course Tutors & Assessors : Liz Weir MBE & Stephen O'Hara of Armstrong Storytelling Trust
NOCN Verifier: Colette McCafferty, Travel & Tourism Associates

The course will involve 7 sessions delivered in a hybrid fashion; in person and online as set out below;
  • In person Session - Sat 9th September  - 10.00-12.30 & 14.00-16.00 - Bluebell Lane, Mullaghbane
  • Online Session - Tues 12th, 19th, 26th September &  3rd, 10th October - 19.00-21.30;
  • In person - Sat 14th October - 10.00-12.30 & 14.00-16.00 - To be confirmed

Essential Criteria
1.         Resident in County Armagh or County Monaghan;
2.         Availability to attend all sessions as listed above or at a minimum 6 out of 7 sessions and Day 1 & 2 are essential;
3.         Agreement to be video recorded as part of the group for assessment purposes;
4.         Commitment to participating in at least 2 local Yarnspinning sessions.

Screening Process
Places are limited and we may therefore need to apply a screening process. In the event of needing to allocate on this basis, participants will be assessed against the answers to the following questions in this form. 

If you are interested in taking part in this course, please complete the attached form by Friday 18th August 2023

For further information on Border Talk or this Expression of Interest form, please contact Colleen Savage, Project Coordinator on This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. 

Please share! A new accredited storytelling course for folk in Armagh and Monaghan - free!


Back row L to R. Tutor Aisling Kelly; Ava Farrell, Gerald McKinney, Siadhal O'Connor;

Middle row Lto R. Molly Feeney; Olivia Brady; James Brady; Caitlin Dickson;

Front row L to R. Chloe Steeson; Aoife Brennan; Sean Toner and TutorAdam Trotter .

Performances of 'Treading the Boards' in Abbey Lane Theatre last weekend to full houses. This group of very talented young actors are the first class of our Armagh Youth Theatre Group started in 2022. The future looks bright for Armagh Theatre Group.

This year's JHISS will have its official launch in the Market Place Theatre 4pm 21st June.

As members of Armagh Theatre Group you are all most welcome to this important event in Armagh's calendar.

Launched by ABC's Lord Mayor Alderman Margaret Tinsley , members of the JHISS board and guests will gather for the famous photo shoot in the new foyer. 

Put the date in your diary and come along to show your support for this world renowned week long Summer School based in our own historical city.


Armagh Theatre Groupatg

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