Waterford drama group triumphs again at RTÉ All Ireland Drama Festival

Ballyduff Drama Group wins overall prize for the second time in three years in Athlone

Waterford-based Ballyduff Drama Group have been crowned RTÉ All Ireland Drama Festival champions in Athlone.

The group won the top prize for their staging of The Ferryman by Jez Butterworth.

It is the second time in three years the group has won the main prize, which was awarded at a gala in Athlone’s Radisson Blu Hotel on Saturday night. It last won in 2022 and the director this year and on that occasion was Ger Canning.

Ballyduff’s John Stack, playing Quinn Carney, won the award for best actor. Mary Colbert won the award for the best actress in a supporting role, while Noel Hayes won the award for the best stage management and Donie O’Sullivan took home the award for best stage setting.


Last year Ballyduff came second with their production of The Welkin. In performing the Ferryman, Ballyduff ignored the showbiz maxim “never work with children or animals”. Their performance included appearances by a local baby named Páidí, a live goose and a rabbit.

Dalkey Players, who presented The Crucible by Arthur Millar, were placed second.

The Wexford-based Ballycogley Players placed third. The first-time qualifiers, directed by Pat Whelan, performed the farce Out of Order by Ray Cooney.

The Dalkey Players also won the Abbey Award for 2024 and will be hosted on the Peacock Stage in Abbey Theatre in the coming weeks.

To mark the 20th year of RTÉ as title sponsor of the RTÉ All Ireland Drama Festival, a special one-off prize, the Bride Rosney Award, was awarded to newcomers from each group. Rosney served as director of communications at RTÉ from 2002 to 2009.

Rosney’s partner Peter McMenamin presented the awards. Awards in the category went to Shay Hannon, Ballycogley Players Drama Group; Seán Foley, Ballyduff Drama Group; Sam Asaylee, Ballyshannon Drama Society; Joseph Sunderland, Bridge Drama; Claudia Verdecchia, Clontarf Players; Rachel McConnell, Dalkey Players; Mickey Brannigan, Newpoint Players; Lauren Mitchel, Prosperous Dramatic Society; and Naoise O’Connor, Wexford Drama Group.

Among the finalists were several premieres, including that of a new Irish play. Margaret, by playwright Sean Byrne, is about Margaret Thatcher in her final years and was performed by the Ballyshannon Drama Society.

Ronan McGreevy

Ronan McGreevy

Ronan McGreevy is a news reporter with The Irish Times