Mayoral Reception for Billy Roche


Playwright Billy Roche was described by Mayor John Hegarty as one of Ireland’s greatest playwrights at a reception to acknowledge his career as a writer in advance of a month-long celebration of his work in June.

“Billy is not solely a playwright: he is a master of prose, of the short story, of song-writing, of singing and indeed acting,” said the Mayor at Wexford Arts Centre, the venue at the heart of Four Rivers’ celebration of the playwright next month.

The Mayor, and members of Wexford Municipal District joined family and friends of Billy along with casts and production teams of the forthcoming Four Rivers programme of events at Wexford Arts Centre.

Cllr. Hegarty spoke of how Billy Roche’s career actually began as a singer-songwriter and musician with The Roach Band in the late 1970s.

“His first novel Tumbling Down was published in 1986, followed by A Handful of Stars two years later, and the rest, as they say, is history.”

June’s programme by Four Rivers will include the first professional revival in Wexford of A Handful of Stars with Dermot Murphy and Gary Lydon and readings from the stage of other Wexford Trilogy plays, Belfy and Poor Beast in the Rain, with an all Wexford cast, including Garrett Lombard.

“It’s hard to overestimate the effect that the Wexford Trilogy had on the theatrical landscape in Ireland and in the UK and it, and Billy’s subsequent work, has ensured his enduring place in the world of Irish theatre writing in the last fifty years or so,” said Artistic Director Ben Barnes, who appointed Billy first writer in residence at the Abbey when he was the Artistic Director there.

Billy Roche pointed out that A Handful of Stars was coming home because it was at Wexford Arts Centre where the first version of the play – then known as The Boker Poker Club – was staged over 35 years ago. A member of the cast Gary Lydon, who played the central character Jimmy Brady, is also in the Four Rivers production, as Swan. The month-long celebrations of his career begin at Wexford Library with a tribute to Billy by Eoin Colfer on June 04.

In A Handful of Stars, directed by Conall Morrison, Gary will be joined by a star-studded cast of Dermot Murphy in the role of Jimmy Brady, Michael Power (Vikings, The Game of Thrones), John Olohan (Lies We Tell, Father Ted), Tiernan Messitt-Greene (Ghosted, Harry Wild), Brian Doherty (Resistance, The Woman in the Wall) and Éilish McLaughlin (Rebecca’s Boyfriend).