Prince Charles and the Duchess of Cornwall entertained by National Folk Theatre
On Friday 15th June HRH Prince Charles and the Duchess of Cornwall included Siamsa Tíre in their schedule whilst visiting Kerry as part of a four day tour to Ireland and experience traditional Irish culture at its best. On arrival around 1pm, children from local schools greeted the royal couple outside the building while Kerry County Council representatives officially welcomed them to Tralee. They proceeded to the Siamsa Tíre entrance where they were introduced to Siamsa Tíre Chairman Pat Dawson, CEO Catriona Fallon and Artistic Director Jonathan Kelliher. As the royal couple entered the building they were serenaded by the National Folk Theatre Choir performing three four-part harmony traditional pieces in Irish.
Songs performed were from the Festival of Folk repertoire and included An Mhaighdean Mhara, Tá na báid, traditional arrangements by Deirdre Moynihan and Turas go Tír na nÓg, composed and arranged by Siamsa Tíre founder and original artistic director, Fr Pat Ahern for the production of Oísin in 1999.
The Royal couple proceeded to the rehearsal room to see a vignette from one of the most recent productions Anam. A key element of this performance showcases the Munnix dance style, specific to North Kerry and compares and contrasts it with other hard shoe dance styles from the USA, Canada and more modern Irish competitive dance style. Co-commissioned by Dublin Dance Festival and the National Folk Theatre of Ireland in 2016, Anam (meaning ‘soul’ in Irish) brings together the skills of four world-class step dancers from the USA (Matthew Olwell), Canada (Nathan Pilatzke) and Ireland (Jonathan Kelliher and Jason O’Neill) in an exhilarating fusion of styles. It toured very successfully nationwide in 2017 and is one of five productions to be included in our 50th anniversary season by acclaimed Irish musician Fergal O’Murchú, along with musicians Mikie Smyth and Joseph McNulty. Anam was co-directed by Jonathan Kelliher and Australian dancer Sue-Ellen Chester MacCarthy.
The Royal party then entered the main theatre to be welcomed by a large audience of invited guests and enjoyed a performance from the National Folk Theatre - a vignette from Fadó Fadó, the first show every performed in 1968. Following the performance Kerry County Council made a presentation of Valentia Slate and two representatives from Siamsa Tíre presented Prince Charles and the Duchess of Cornwall with Siamsa Tíre bodhráns. Following the presentations Prince Charles joined CEO Catriona Fallon in the Biodiversity area behind the building to view the co-operation between Siamsa Tíre and the Kerry Council in maintaining a wild grass area for the growth of wild flowers that will attract and feed pollinators like bees, butterflies and so on. Catriona also highlighted the recently added Bird Boxes made by artist Nik Taylor as part of the Per Cent for Art scheme. The boxes were made with the environment and sustainability in mind and were constructed in solid oak with a light exterior finish of beeswax in consultation with British Ornithologist and Author, Moss Taylor. His Royal Highness also got a chance to sample 'A Taste of Kerry' before their departure.
The hour long visit was a great success for all concerned and the Prince and Duchess were greatly impressed with the talent on show from the National Folk Theatre both young and old. Siamsa Tíre would like to thank all involved from staff, security, Kerry County Council, the invited audience and all involved for making this a very special occasion.