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Some points on the Opera House

I WRITE to correct Eddie McIlwaine on a couple of things he wrote about the Grand Opera House (Memories, November 16).

The Grand Opera House reopened in 1980 as it was not in a fit state to be used during the 1970s.

Michael Barnes took over the directorship of the GOH in 1980 while still director of the Belfast Festival at Queen's.

I remember seeing Ipi Tombi, with the loquacious Michael - as Eddie rightfully describes him - in his reserved circle box, but I do not remember him, on that occasion, giving one of his famous talks on the theatre he adored. I think the performances of Ipi Tombi took place in the early 1980s.

As Eddie says, Michael Barnes died in May 2008 and the following month we held a memorial 'party', as he had requested, and Michael Palin came over for the party, in which members of staff who had worked for, and with, Michael for many years enjoyed a typical 'MJB party'.

We really felt Michael was there with us. Happy days.


Assistant director, Belfast Festival at Queen's, 1973-1986


From Belfast Telegraph