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You Cant Be Serious - the new book by Eithne Scallan with Illustrations by David Rowe was officially launched by David Agler, Artistic Director Wexford Festival Opera in the Theatre Royal,  6th October 2005.


Wexford People October 12 2005

Light-hearted memories of the opera festival hit the right note

'THERE HAVE been problems. There have been worries. But there has always been laughter'.

Eithne Scallan's reminiscence of a life-long association with the Wexford Festival Opera is peppered with belly laughs.

Potential catastrophes are accompanied by relief-filled chuckles. Hard work and stress, alleviated by camaraderie and complete fun.

It is this sense of good humour; and light heartedness that has shrouded every Festival Opera since its inception and has been the inspiration for Eithne, and Dublin-based illustrator David Rowe, to produce their latest collaborative work 'You Can't Be Serious'.

Using David Rowe's rib-tickling illustrations - drawn over a 30 year period - the book highlights some of the funniest moments of Wexford Festivals colourful history.

With no disrespect to the opera stars, this book firmly focuses on the craic which went on in the festival, mostly out of public view. These are the back stage events that continually make Wexford Festival an enjoyable event for volunteers, over 50 years on.

Eithne, a member of the Scallan family of Celtic Linen renown, has been a life-long friend of cartoonist and illustrator David Rowe, who himself has been visiting Wexford for the festival over 30 years.

'Every year David would visit, and by way of thank you would send an illustration of something he had seen in the Festival on any particular year. I kept the illustrations, and my son encouraged me to put a narrative with them,' she said.

With the new redevelopment of the Theatre Royal pending, this was the ideal opportunity to write the book. 'We felt it was time to enjoy the laughter of years gone by,' she said.

The sad passing of Chief Executive. Jerome Hynes, has of course, made them question the timing of the book release. But Eithne herself believes that going ahead with the launch of such a humorous tribute would be something Jerome himself would have encouraged. I know that he was very enthusiastic about the project,' said Eithne.

Eithne started working on the book immediately after last year's festival, and talked to a variety of people working in all departments of the theatre from Front of House to cloakroom; the bar, backstage and wardrobe.

'These are the stories of voluntary workers, going back to Tom Walsh himself,' said Eithne, who adds that the tales date from the Festival inception, to more recent comic events.

'I've talked to someone who sang in the very first opera, and I've made sure to include every section back stage,' she said.

Of course, some of the more notorious yarns that surround Wexford Festival may not have reached publication. 'Well not everybody's yarn was fit to print, 'laughed Eithne, who notes that some memorable events documented include the infestation of starlings, and the night of the great opera floods. 'Ah yes, the starlings get a discreet mention, alongside quite a few other near disasters,' laughs Eithne.

Eithne herself is no stranger to literature, having previously penned three books on local history; including one about her family business Celtic Linen. She has also penned a book about the Boat Club, and has collaborated previously With David Rowe on a reference book about houses of Wexford.

Both Eithne and David have also decided to waive their royalties from the sales of the book, which is published by Enniscorthy-based company Chaos Press.


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Last modified: Thursday, 02 February 2012
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