Statement from Susan McKay and Peter Kearns, outgoing Director and chairperson of the Glens Centre, Manorhamilton
The Glens Centre in Manorhamilton is seeking a new director as Susan McKay who has been at the helm for the past year and a half is moving on. “I am returning to my life as a writer and am very excited to have been awarded an Arts Council of Northern Ireland bursary to write a new book,” she says. “It is about the Irish border which is of course quite timely because of Brexit which has huge implications for the region. My time in North Leitrim has given me a lot of insight into what life is like close to the border on its southern side, and of course I worked for many years as a journalist focusing on all aspects of life, and, sadly, because of the Troubles, death, in the North.”
“I have loved working at the Glens and I am very proud of the work I did here along with the staff and board to keep up the fantastic reputation the Glens has as a vibrant arts centre in North Leitrim. It was particularly rewarding to work alongside someone as talented as the technical manager, Ray Duffy, and to welcome Ruth Moore as coordinator of the new International Fund for Ireland project for which we got a significant grant earlier in 2017. I spearheaded a fundraising campaign which has been very successful in raising money to upgrade the Glens, which has got a bit run down over the years since community activists first got it up and running in the late 1980s and early 1990s. My best legacy to date is the new seating in the lovely old auditorium. It looks great and it is really comfortable. We used to get a lot of complaints from patrons with bad backs. The new director will have to continue with this drive as we need quite a bit more to complete the ambitious refurbishment project.”
“It has been amazing to work closely with writers and musicians and to see the passionate hard work they put into creating their magic for an audience. I especially loved hosting the brilliant young playwright Eva O’Connor, as well as the likes of that superb comedian Kevin McAleer, Pat McCabe, Sally Rooney and Glens favourite Seamus O’Rourke, who is actually working on a new project as writer in residence at the moment. A big highlight of the year was working with Seamus and inmates of Loughan House open prison to present the new play they wrote called The Boat, and another was running the Fierce Moon Festival to celebrate the legacy of the late Dermot Healy. My proudest moment was being able to play Fairy Godmother to the very special young singer songwriter, Cian Rock, to play support to the wonderful Lisa O’Neill. Lisa invited him but he said he couldn’t because he was working that evening at Supervalu. I went to see his manager who very kindly released him from his shift for an hour or so. Cian did the gig – superbly – then raced like Cinderella back to his job!”
“The Glens has a special magic and I wish it all the very best in the future. I think Peter Kearns, the new chairperson of the board, is going to bring a whole new dynamic to the place as well, starting with disability awareness training and with the ambition to make the Glens compliant with the good governance code for charities. I look forward to coming to see shows in the future, sinking into my plush red seat and not having to worry about whether the heating is working properly or if enough tickets were sold to pay the performers!”
Chairperson Peter Kearns says that “even though were losing Susan far too early, her short Directorship with us at the Glens has been a treasure trove of wonderful new art in new places and the opening of funding streams that will leave a legacy long after Susan has left us to take up a deserved necessary & challenging writing project. Susan has laid the solid groundwork for our next Director in early 2018 and on behalf of the Glens Arts Centre’s locally enhanced strong Board, we’d like to wish her well, but will be looking forward to future possible engagements with Susan as a writer with a Grá for our border cultures and communities.”
Everyone here at The Glens Centre wishes Susan McKay the best of luck in her future endeavours!