By Tom Ryan
A Rearcross native Diane Lacey (nee Carey) and her talented daughter, Jacqui Lacey, who are both members of All-Ireland finalists Holycross/Ballycahill Drama Group, are the toast of Tipperary thespians.
For Thurles-based solicitor, of JJ Fitzgerald and Company, Jacqui, has just won the Best Actress Award in the prestigious All-Ireland Confined Drama Finals in Rossmore in West Cork to take the coveted crystal glass trophy for the Abbeysiders and Tipperary.
This week I asked hugely popular Jacqui about the influences which led her to winning All-Ireland glory for only the second time for Holycross/Ballycahill and Tipp. (Patricia Lowry, niece of Independent Dail Deputy, Michael Lowry, won the award in Hugh Leonard’s “Love In The Title” a few years ago.)
Jacqui stated: ”I have had a keen interest in drama from a very young age. At Primary School level, I was lucky enough to have been taught by awards-winning director, Margaret McCormack Purcell, in St. Michael’s National School, Holycross. Margaret instilled a real love of the stage and all things dramatic in me! My Mother, Diane (nee Carey) has been acting all her life both on and off the stage! She took to the stage at a young age in Rearcross where her grandmother was the local Primary School Principal. She was a member of the Rearcross Drama Group until she moved to Thurles in 1977 to marry my father, Edward, of Friar Street, Thurles. She has been involved with Holycross/Ballycahill Drama Group since in or about that time and has been involved in many productions over the years, including “Drama at Inish”, “Wood of the Whispering”, “The Diary of Anne Frank” , “Sive”, “ The Beauty Queen of Lenane”. In recent years I was lucky enough to join her on stage in Holycross/ Ballycahill’s productions of ”Lovers at Versailles” by Bernard Farrell and “Memory of Water” by Sheelagh
Stephenson, coincidently playing her daughter in both productions.
Holycross/Ballycahill was nominated for Best Set and Marty O’ Neill was nominated for Best Supporting Actor award in Rossmore to add to the numerous awards won by the famous group during this and other seasons over the years.
Jacqui attended Secondary School in the Ursuline Convent, Thurles, and completed Drama exams each year with the then Speech and Drama Teacher, Mrs. Barry Ryan. “I had involvement with the school musical and was also involved in the school debating and public speaking. I studied in University in Cork and then moved to Naas, County Kildare, where I worked until returning to my native Thurles in 2005. Whilst in Naas, I joined The Moat Club Players and was lucky to perform with the group in the All Ireland Open Drama Finals in Athlone in 2002/3. On
returning to Thurles, I joined Cashel Pantomime Society for one year and then Holycross/ Ballycahill Drama Group with whom I’ve been a member for the past three years.
“I suppose I am privileged enough to come from a parish that hosts the County Tipperary Drama Festival each year and I have seen some fantastic productions on the stage in Holycross which could not but instil enthusiasm for drama”.
Jacqui lives in Garrenmore, Cashel, with her husband, Seamus Kennedy, who runs the Friary Pharmacy, Cashel. He, too, is also involved in drama and a member of the Fr. Matthew Players, New Inn along with Jacqui’s sister, Breda O’Connor. They were both recently involved in a fantastic production of “Les Miserables” (produced by the extremely talented Tom Fitzgerald) and which played to packed houses in New Inn.
Jacqui graciously stated: “I was delighted to receive the Best Actress Award last Saturday night in Rossmore, Co. Cork, but it must be shared between the other cast members, Salome Hennessy, Roscrea, Derek Doherty, Templemore and Marty O’Neill, Holycross and the producer, Pat McGrath, Holycross and the rest of the group who worked so hard (Joanne O’Neill, Elaine O’Dwyer, Paddy Connolly, Gerard O’Dwyer, Peg Ryan, Catherine Lowry, Marion Gilmore, Geraldine Henchion, Jack Henchion. Sally O’Rourke, Claire Ryan, Andy Slattery, Paul Slattery”.
Milrace Players of Mullagh, Co. Cavan, were overall winners of the Confined All Ireland Drama Finals with their production of “Trad” by Mark Doherty.
Holycross/Ballycahill was nominated for Best Set and Marty O’ Neill was nominated for Best Supporting Actor award.