Bridie Gallagher’s dresses donated to Lyric

A dress worn by Ireland’s first international singing sensation, Bridie Gallagher – who was a huge star in the Fifties – has been dusted down from the wardrobe and will be used on the Lyric stage this week.

Actress and playwright Marie Jones will wear one of Bridie’s day dresses in her hit comedy Weddins, Weeins and Wakeswhich opens this Thursday 13 June at the Lyric Theatre.

The dress comes from the late singer’s complete collection of outfits – including many dazzling show dresses – which wasdonated to the theatre by her son, Jim Livingstone, after she passed away at the age of 87 last year.

Known as ‘the girl from Donegal’, Bridie shot to fame in 1956 with her recording of ‘A Mother’s Love’s A Blessing’ and achieved international acclaim with her legendary rendition of ‘The Boys From County Armagh’. During her career, which spanned over six decades, she appeared in many leading venues across the globe including the London Palladium, Royal Albert Hall and Carnegie Hall in New York.

Bridie was born in Cresslough, Co Donegal but lived most of her life in Belfast when not travelling the world as a singer.

Her son decided to donate the collection to the Lyric because of her love for the theatre. The 96 dresses span a history of her career in show-business, and include some fantastic sparkling numbers, as well as her everyday apparel.

“It took me some time to know what to do with the dresses,” said her son Jim Livingstone. “The idea then came to me to give them to the Lyric Theatre because it is what Bridie would have wanted and I’m thrilled they have found such a good home. Every dress was bought or made for the stage, mostly from the ‘50s and ‘60s. They are of the highest quality and were worn on some of the most prestigious stages around the world. Bridie was obsessed with not wearing the same dress twice at a venue!”

Wardrobe Supervisor, Pat Musgrave said she was delighted to receive the collection of dresses.

“Bridie was an extremely popular singer,” said Pat. “She actually coached Daniel O’Donnell and got both him and his sister started in the music business. We received the full collection of dresses in early 2012 but we have been working to restore them to their former glory. This is the first time one of her dresses has been worn in a production and no better person than the star of Weddins, Weeins and Wakesthan Marie Jones herself!”

Marie Jones said she is honoured to get the opportunity to wear one of Bridie’s dresses.

The wonderful, witty world of Weddins, Weeins and Wakestells the story, set to a musical score by Trevor Moore, of thecircle of life in an East Belfast home where it is most definitely survival of the fittest!

The show remains a family affair as the queen of Belfast humour leads the cast, with her husband, director Ian McElhinney at the helm of the production and they are joined this time by their actor-son, Matthew McElhinney.

Two of the original cast members also make a return – Katie Tumelty, who recently impressed audiences in Mixed Marriageand Sean Kearns who returns from the West End hit Billy Elliott.

At the heart of this engaging story are neighbourhood biddies Mona (Tumelty) and Molly (Jones) who gossip into life the daily trials and tribulations of the Watson family: rearing their families, marrying them off and then burying them.

Fishwife-to-be Wendy’s groom is drunk and she’d rather be whisked away by Robbie Williams. There are brawls and belly laughs galore as the wedding party ensues in a community centre with squabbling families, drunken disorder and chaotic, clumsy passes. Jump to a glorious Twelfth of July when the Watson clan sees the arrival of a new generation and the passing of another as Wendy is re-routed to deliver her first child and her beloved Granda’s orange pallor doesn’t bode well.

The full cast line-up are: Roisin Gallagher, Marie Jones, Sean Kearns, Marty Maguire, Matthew McElhinney, Kerri Quinn and Katie Tumelty.

Weddins, Weeins and Wakes runs on the Danske Bank Stage from 13 June to 7 July. Tickets from £10 – £24.50.