This year’s winner of the Schools Playwright Competition is Aoibhín Collins from Glenamaddy Community School.

Winners of Schools Playwright Competition announced

Normally at this time of year, crowds would be flocking to the Dean Crowe Theatre, Athlone to see the finalists of the RTÉ All Ireland Drama Festival but for the second year in a row, the festival has fallen victim to Covid-19 and so the stage remains bare.

However, one event that has continued despite the pandemic is the hugely successful Schools Playwright Competition, and thanks to the generous support of Athlone Credit Union, the top six of the 80 scripts submitted were awarded prizes.

This year’s winner is Aoibhín Collins from Glenamaddy Community School for her play 'Same Tune, Different Arrangement'.

The play centres on the character Maureen, a recently bereaved widow, who inadvertently gets caught up in a grudge held by her friend, Joan, against the local priest, Fr Paddy. However, after some common sense intervention, all ends well.

Now in its eighth year, the competition invites Transition Year students to write a one-act play on a given theme. This year the theme was ‘Transition’ and attracted entries from schools across ten counties.

Normally, the winning play is performed in the Dean Crowe Theatre for TY students, teachers and parents but such an event was not possible under current public health advice. However, the RTÉ News2day team visited the school to see a socially distanced performance of the play starring Aoibhín herself and fellow students Gabrielle Kilcommons and Rowan Dunne.

"We are all thrilled for Aoibhín. It's a wonderful achievement. Aoibhín has made herself, her parents and the school very proud. Aoibhín is an extremely hard-working student and a very talented writer. It's lovely to see her get rewarded for all her efforts," her teacher Ms Bláithín Nangle said. Festival Director Regina Bushell congratulated Aoibhín on her win, saying that her work signalled great potential for a future writing career.

“I would also like to thank the Board of Athlone Credit Union for their thoughtfulness, generosity and vision in agreeing to sponsor the 2021 playwriting competition as it continues to grow annually and attract students from across the country to engage their imagination and writing skills, all which supports students to grow in confidence while engaging in the arts,” said Regina.

A sentiment echoed by Ms Nangle who added: “Competitions like this wouldn't be possible without the support of businesses. We are really grateful to Athlone Credit Union for sponsoring this year's prize”.

Michael Evens CEO of Athlone Credit Union added: "We are happy to support the Schools Playwright Competition in these difficult times. Well done to all the participants and congratulations to the prize winners."

The top six prize-winners were:

1. Aoibhín Collins, Glenamaddy Community School, Co Galway; 2. Peter O’Neill, Holy Rosary College, Mountbellew, Co Galway 3. Chloe Bertulfo, Presentation College, Currylea, Tuam, Co Galway; 4. Sophie Rowland, Ursuline Convent Secondary School, Thurles, Co Tipperary; 5. Olivia Bruen, St. Nathy’s College, Ballaghaderreen, Co Roscommonand 6. Nicole McFadden, Piper’s Hill College, Killashee, Naas, Co Kildare.

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