From April 5-21, the Arís Theater in Atlanta will present Goodnight Delia, the tender tale of Delia Murphy, the beloved songstress known as The Queen of Connemara. Recently we spoke with facility board member Jim Colgan about what audiences can expect.

What are your own roots?
My wife, Bridget, me and my three children (Eileen, Patrick, and Brendan) all have dual USA/Irish citizenships. All my grandparents emigrated from North Kerry in the early 1900s. I grew up playing Gaelic Football in Pittsburgh and continued with the GAA when we moved to Philadelphia in the early 1980s. We moved to Atlanta in 2001 and were very involved in our kid’s activities. When I retired in 2015, I got increasingly involved with the Irish community in Atlanta.

When and why did you get involved with Goodnight Delia?
I met Simon Gibney at a St Brigid’s day sponsored by the Irish Consulate in 2023. Simon produced Goodnight Delia in Dublin in 2018. He is an award-winning producer and director, and I was very excited when he agreed to work with Aris to put the show on in Atlanta.

What are your roles & responsibilities there?
I have been on the Board of Aris for the last 6 years and am currently Treasurer. We are a very small company, and, like all of the Board, we do everything that needs to be done, including cleaning up the seats after a show.

What are the challenges involved with the production?
One of the exciting things about this production is that we get to work with Clelia Murphy – a very well known and highly regarded actor in Ireland and introduce her to our Atlanta audience. With that in mind, most of our correspondence has been long distance, but the technology helps. The other challenge is the one that most theatre groups face – finances. We are lucky to have a great Board of Directors who are always working to get corporate, government and community support.

What are the rewards?
The metropolitan Atlanta area is home to one of the largest populations of people claiming Irish heritage. Nearly 10% of the metro area claim Irish and Irish backgrounds. When a small theatre group, such as Aris, can reach out and share our passion for Irish and Celtic culture it is immensely rewarding. I am also getting the opportunity to work with an Emmy wining director, Simon Gibney.

What can audiences expect?
Arís has been producing quality Celtic theatre in Atlanta for over a decade. Our audiences can look forward to an evening of theatre that is both lively, immediate entertainment and a considered reflection of the impact of Ireland on the world stage.

Why is it an important event for the community there?
Arís aims to attract, through its broad Celtic appeal/choice of production, Irish born, Irish Americans and others to its event from across the Greater Atlanta area. We currently have 1414 contacts for our Mailchimp account. We also access audiences through our collaborations with the Consulate, IrishFest and the Celtic Christmas Concert as well as through radio interviews. Arís reaches out to the Irish and Irish American community in the Greater Atlanta area, 3,000-4,000 Irish born, significantly more Irish citizens and a community of Irish and/or Scots Irish heritage, around half a million.

How else are you involved with the Celtic community there?
The Aris board members are involved with the GAA, Irish Network Atlanta, IrishFest Atlanta, Northside St Patrick’s Festival, the Hibernian Beneficial Society, and Irish Studies at Emory University.

What are your plans for the rest of 2024?
Arís will present a play-reading festival this fall which will showcase works from all over the Celtic world. Atlanta audiences can revel in theatrical voices from Irish, Scottish, and Welsh playwrights. And for the 2024 holiday season, Arís returns with another outrageous panto “Aladdin and The Magic Lamp”.