Corktown Man Play


by Festival Nomad, Gary McWilliams

Back To Lang...

On a cool Sunday afternoon we found ourselves winding our way through the Northumberland Hills on our way around Rice Lake towards the Lang Pioneer Village Museum. On this occasion we were invited by Joe Corrigan (Manager at Lang) to celebrate in their special event “A Heritage Celebration in Story & Song”. For this afternoon, we were going to be treated to a performance of “The Corktown Man”. Boy, were we in for a treat! When we arrived, we were welcomed by Joe himself. As many of you know, we often visit the Village, so we knew our way around.  Spring is finally settling in and the forest, gardens and grass are getting lush!  We took in the sweet aromas coming from the Fitzpatrick House. Inside an interpreter welcomed us to the hearth, where she was preparing potato cakes over the fire. A few guests had joined us and much to everyone’s delight, we sampled the cakes! They were very tasty.  Our next stop was to the Keene Hotel, where we once again enjoyed the fare. This time we had Barm Back cake and tea. The lonely interpreter on the other side of the room at the Keene Hotel wasn’t getting much business this day, as she was serving cold ginger beer, iced tea or non-alcoholic beer. (I wondered if that meant root beer).  As spring is fresh and new, so were the four young goats that had gathered by the Hotel.

Call To The Play!

The school bell rang, bringing us all towards the brand new S. W. Lowry Shop & Jacquard Loom Interpretive Centre. As we have reported in the past, this new building is magnificent! With the high cathedral ceilings and wooden beams and floors it is impressive. The beautiful windows let lots of natural light in. We took our seats and waited for the performance to begin. For those of you who don’t know about The Corktown Man, it is a story part fiction/part factual. It is about the love between an Irish-born Canadian lad and an unusually gifted girl, part Native, a singing contest in a tavern of an inn, and a rift in their relationship, that comes to a dramatic and happy end. We did not know about the story before we arrived, but, very much enjoyed it. The narrator and author of The Corktown Man, Mark Finnan, was fantastic in his role. To Judi, the sound in the S. W. Lowry Shop reminded her of the sound that is found often in old churches. The sound vibrates and seems pure. The entire ensemble are well noted performers, with accomplished accreditations. The two main singers (Glen Caradus and John Hoffman) certainly had remarkable voices. The play ended with quite the twist. It was over all so soon. Michael Ketemer treated us, after the play, to his first ever audience live playing of his newest instrument. The instrument had many strings and I had no idea how he knew which to hit, it looked so complex Michael tapped very lightly with what appeared to be small wooden spoons on the strings. It was fantastic! They sang many tradition Canadian and Irish tunes of the era. After the entire performance I had an opportunity to speak with Mark Finnan. I wish we both had more time to “talk” … well, “swap stories”! Perhaps one day! He's coming back to Lang Pioneer Village Museum in the fall with another play!