‘One Festival, Two Countries’ Off to a Promising Start

By Dan McGovern

Published on December 14, 2017

Great progress is being made on two of the Foundation’s priority projects: First, “One Festival, Two Countries,” the Foundation’s partnership with the Eugene O’Neill Ancestral Trust of Ireland for Eugene O’Neill festivals in Danville and New Ross, Ireland, in fall 2018; and second, the official Friendship City relationship between Danville and New Ross.

Presentation of Friendship City Partnership letter from Danville California to New Ross Municipal District. From left; Walter O’Leary WIT, Dr Richard Hayes WIT, Sean Reidy, Dan McGovern President of Eugene O’Neill Foundation in Danville California, Cathaoirleach Willie Fitzharris, Eamonn Hore Town Manager, Carolyn McGovern and Tomás Kavanagh. St. Michaels Theatre. Photo; Mary Browne


The idea for “One Festival, Two Countries” grew from connections made at the Eugene O’Neill International Conference in Galway, Ireland in July of this year, where three members of the Foundation—President Dan McGovern, Artistic Director Eric Fraisher Hayes, and Board member Janet Roberts—presented papers.

At the Foundation’s November meeting, Board president Dan McGovern read a letter from Danville Town Council member Robert Storer expressing support. “‘One Festival, Two Countries’ can put Danville on the cultural map, and we are just as excited about the Friendship City relationship with New Ross…the Festival will be at the heart of that relationship.”

Four plays will be presented in New Ross October 11-14, 2018. The Foundation’s production of O’Neill’s Hughie will be presented in both Danville and New Ross. If necessary funds can be raised, Hughie will also tour Ireland afterwards. “I have already received strong expressions of interest from, among others, the famed Samuel Beckett Theatre at Trinity College Dublin,” McGovern stated.

O’Neill’s four one-act sea plays will be performed aboard the Dunbrody, a full-scale replica of one of the sailing ships that brought Irish emigrants from New Ross to America. It promises to be a powerful theatrical experience.

Ben Barnes, former artistic director of the Abbey Theatre, will direct the third production. Barnes is considering a staged reading of O’Neill’s Mourning Becomes Electra, which was cited as his “grandest work” when O’Neill was presented the Nobel Prize in 1936. “A five-hour production, with dinner break, of a rarely performed masterpiece featuring the finest actors in Ireland would be quite an event.” McGovern said.

The fourth play will be by an Irish playwright. “We are considering Eoin Colfer’s My Real Life, a new play that was a hit at the Dublin and Edinburgh festivals this year,” McGovern said.

The festival package will include tickets to all four plays; reservations at Brandon House, including breakfast and dinner; and day tours of such sites as Waterford, Wexford, and Kilkenny. An optional five-day tour of the South and Southwest of Ireland following the festival will also be offered. Reservations may be made on the New Ross festival website, which will go online soon.