The Acorn Club was founded in 2011 by a committed group of individuals whose goal was to acknowledge, preserve and revitalise the rich heritage of pantomime and variety that existed in Freshford for almost a century.
The Club started producing and staging Variety Shows in the local Community Hall. The producers, directors and cast were drawn both from the community and other local communities around Freshford.
As Noel Cleere, a founding member of the Acorn Club had close ties with two clubs in Germany since 2006, both German Clubs were invited to visit us in 2010 where they were given a warm reception by Lord Mayor Malcolm Noonan.
Subsequently, the Acorn Club produced and staged two highly successful shows in Dagersheim Germany in 2011 and 2013. The shows were written, produced and directed locally using a local cast that travelled to Germany to perform in front of a highly appreciative German audience.
Freshford Variety 60th Year Celebration
The year 2013 also marked a significant year in local history as it was the 60th Anniversary of the first pantomime in Freshford.
The Club funded the recording of a CD that contained many of the Topical songs written by local songwriters. The songs recounted historical events, featuring people and places and were always included in the Pantomime in any year. They needed to be preserved.
The Gala Concert of 2013 was a truly memorable occasion featuring scenes from many pantos and variety shows over the years. Special Guest for the show was Dana who performed superbly.
Preserving the Variety Tradition
Our annual Variety shows would feature top acts like Mick Hanly (2015) Paddy Cole (2016) and Susan McCann (2017). The standard and quality of production improved dramatically with professional musicians under the musical direction of Ollie Hennessy (RTE/ Rose of Tralee).
A great feature of the show is the participation of local artists including the children of St Lachtain’s National School with scenes written and produced by their teachers. The performing tradition is still alive and well! .
1916 Centenary Commemorations
In 2016, the Acorn Club was instrumental in the organisation of the 1916 Centenary Commemorations that featured a parade, an exhibition of 1916 memorabilia and a very moving but highly successful 1916 Centenary Concert in St Lachtain’s Church of Ireland. It marked the role of those locals who played their part in the events of Easter 1916 and those that fought and died in the Battle of the Somme. It was a carefully balanced socially inclusive programme that honoured the traditions of both our Catholic and Church of Ireland communities.
Supporting Educational and Local Initiatives
The Acorn Club funds numerous projects at local level including Speech & Drama and Cyber Security for children, teachers and parents of St Lachtain’s National School. The Club also funds “The Happy Voices” singing group, thus maintaining our commitment to Freshford Chorus. We organise and run Concerts in St Lachtain’s Church of Ireland and work closely with other organisations such as Freshford Tidy Towns, Freshford Heritage and Prague House. We also organised the Big Squeeze Accordion Festival in 2015 that featured performers and orchestras from Ireland and the UK.
Stars that have appeared in Acorn Club shows over the years have include Dana, MIck Hanly, Paddy Cole and Susan McCann. In 2018, the Freshford Eurovision Special feature Niamh Kavanagh, Paul Harrington, Charlie McGettigan and Mary Kennedy with a host of talented local artists under the musical direction of Ollie Hennessy with orchestra and chorus.
Our Evolving Role – The Freshford Odeon Social Enterprise Project
Our role has been evolving over the years. This year (2018), we have embarked on the Freshford Odeon Social Enterprise Project, a major Rural Regeneration plan for the village . We are currently at the Feasibility Stage of the Project which is going well.
Catalysts for Change
As a respected and trusted organisation, we are seen as the catalysts for change. Change must spring from a changeless core so our projects are built upon the firm foundation of local assets, history and tradition. We are committed to “planting the seeds of progress” by working with others to improve the social, cultural and economic life of Freshford and its environs for generations to come.