The Quarry Players

  • Stylised text purple on white of The Quarry Players

The group was founded in November 1969, by a group of young people, coming mainly from the Punches Cross area of the city, with a keen interest in plays and theatre.

The group was founded in November 1969, by a group of young people, coming mainly from the Punches Cross area of the city, with a keen interest in plays and theatre. The idea of it all was the brainwave of Gerard Meagher and was eagerly followed by the youngsters and by John Gibbons, a Mayo man with a long experience and knowledge of theatre. John still treads the boards and is a life trustee along with founder member John Ryan, who is devoted to set design and stage crafts. Gerard Meagher specialises in lighting design for the group while being a professional lighting designer in his own right.

The name Quarry Players simply came from a landmark in the area, Gough’s Limestone Quarry, which was about half-way between the houses of the young founders. Over the years, a few style gurus have recommended a more upbeat name, rather than be named after a hole in the ground – that’s been filled-in for years anyway. Any attempt to change the name was firmly scuttled in a public address by the playwright and author, Dr. Bryan MacMahon, when he attended the world premiere of his play ‘The Master‘, which the group staged as the first local group in the newly opened Belltable Arts Centre, in 1981. The distinguished author remarked that,

the name of the group is apposite, in each boulder of a quarry, statuary already exists, and by using intuition and dedication, the sculptor reveals these as works of art. Much the same process obtains in theatre, where the play puts flesh, bone and blood on the dream figures of the playwright.”

A symbol of the Group is presently being designed to reflect these words, and after forty years without an emblem or logo, it is perhaps about time. It is interesting to note that the stone from Gough’s Quarry was used to build the Coliseum, now the Belltable, which continues to be the keystone of theatrical activity in the city.

The Quarry Players have grown through so many experiences, that it would be difficult to typecast the group. It’s an open and welcoming company of people who are really only comfortable when actively working on a production.  In essence the group has the ability to make all-comers feel wanted and infect them with the terrifying and inspiring experience of live performances. Although the group has an impressive repertoire of plays, it is fair to state that they have largely concentrated on contemporary Irish theatre.  The majority of the 77 productions were Limerick premières, while some were Irish stage premières. Almost all productions were presented in the city, and over twenty were also presented at other venues in the mid-west region.

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The name Quarry Players simply came from a landmark in the area.

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Treaty Stone Limerick. Photo Piotr Machowczyk