Fr. Pat Ahern is best known as a founder member of Siamsa Tire, the National Folk Theatre established in 1973.
A native of Moyvane, Fr. Pat was educated at St Michaelâ¿¿s College, Listowel, St. Brendan's College, Killarney, and St. Patrick's College, Maynooth. He also studied music at UCC under the late Professor Fleischmann, graduating in 1962.
His first appointment was to a curacy in St. John's parish, Tralee in 1957 .During those early years he founded St. John's Gregorian Choir which is still going strong and he produced two major Religious Pageants; 'Massabielle', the story of Lourdes and 'Golgotha', a Passion Play
The latter production became the catalyst for what would, in time, become Siamsa Tire. A number of the cast formed a small folk group called 'Siamsoiri na Riocht', and began to experiment with a theatrical treatment of music and dance based on the old ways and customs of rural Ireland. This resulted four half-hour TV programmes which were broadcast by RTE during the summer of 1965, under the title 'Aililiu'. and then presented on stage for the first time ( at the School Hall, Balloonagh ) as a summer season attraction for visitors, under the title SIAMSA. The Siamsa summer season has continued in Tralee every year since then.
In 1972, Fr. Pat was asked to develop a plan for Siamsa as a cultural development including a proposed new Theatre building for Tralee.
The first Board of Directors was formed in 1974 and 'SIAMSA TIRE' was adopted as the title of the new Company. The late Martin Whelan was appointed as the Company's first Manager. In 1974 Teach Siamsa, was opened at Finuge and in 1975 a second centre was opened at Carraig in the West Kerry Gaeltacht.
Since then , Siamsa Tire has gone from strength to strength, including many overseas performances, culminating in the opening of the new Siamsa Tire building in 1991 with the premiere of a new production, "Ding Dong Dedero - Forging the Dance". Today Siamsa Tire is internationally recognised as the leader in Folk theatre. Fr Pat continued as its artistic director until 1997.
Our unique programme the BA in Folk Theatre Studies arose from the activities of Siamsa Tire and Fr pat was instrumental in bringing that programme to fruition.
Other than Siamsa Tire, he has had of course many other interests including broadcasting for RTE and radio Kerry, artistic director of a number of productions in the Abbey theatre in Dublin as well as his pastoral work in Knocknagoshel and at St. John's in Tralee. To mark the Millennium in the diocese of Kerry he produced 'Dance of Life' a Pageant on the Story of Salvation, involving 800 singers and a cast of 200, in the Green Glens Arena in Millstreet.
In 2005 he produced 'Song of the Living Stones' the Story of Christianity in Kerry, in the Cathedral in Killarney, to celebrate the Cathedral's 150 years.
Most recently he revived the Pageant 'Massabielle' at the KDYS Hall in Tralee to celebrate 50 years since its first production at that same venue in 1958.
Fr Pat has made an immense contribution to the cultural, economic and religious life in this region which is recognised nationally and internationally. As an organisation devoted to the economic, social and cultural development of this area, it is a great pleasure and indeed appropriate that we in IT, Tralee recognise Fr Pat's achievements and honour him to-day.