28 Sept 2022

A Wilde evening of festive performance at this charming Laois country house

Actor Michael James Ford in a Christmas double bill of Oscar Wilde plays

Actor Michael James Ford in a Christmas double bill of Oscar Wilde plays

An evening of drama, wit and festive treats is coming up at one of Laois' loveliest venues.

Roundwood Country House near Mountrath has announced that is hosting a Christmas Double Bill, live readings of two of Oscar Wilde's greatest stories, The Remarkable Rocket and The Happy Prince.

The stories will be performed with aplomb by Michael James Ford on Sunday afternoon December 17, in performances that have received top reviews.

The Remarkable Rocket is an outrageously funny exploration of vanity and pomposity. Written in 1888, The Remarkable Rocket was inspired by the egocentric personality of Wilde’s former friend, the artist James Mc Neill Whistler, who used to refer to himself as "The Amazing One" and whose work Wilde once likened to "a rocket…bursting in a perfectly blank sky".

The story tells of a boastful and self-deluded firework who lives in a fairytale world inhabited by a colourful array of characters, including a beautiful princess, a precocious page, a tone-deaf king, a phlegmatic frog and a broken- hearted Catherine wheel.

The Remarkable Rocket is a cautionary tale for all ages and this highly theatrical production was specially commissioned by The Enniskillen Oscar Wilde Festival.

An Irish Times review describes it as a "small but perfectly performed production…a joy to watch and listen to".

"…Ford never misses a beat as he tears through the characters in a demonstration of superb storytelling," the Irish Independent said.

The second telling is of  The Happy Prince, perhaps the best loved and most enduringly popular of all Oscar Wilde’s stories.

It is the bittersweet tale of a gregarious swallow who befriends a melancholy statue while en route to Egypt. The bird helps the Prince to alleviate the suffering of his poor citizens and in doing so learns profound truths about the nature of love and suffering.

"…Michael James Ford has an enchanting style of storytelling that leaves the audience hanging on his every word," a Sunday Tribune reviewer said of it.

"…Michael James Ford is mesmerising as he carries us through Wilde’s perfect mixture of magic, exoticism, mundane reality and insensitive, shortsighted pragmatism and vanity" the Irish Examiner said.

The performances are directed by Bairbre Ni Chaoimh.

The event in Roundwood Country House is on Sunday, Dec 17, at 4pm in The Library of Civilisation (see image below). Price €25 includes the show, homemade mince pies & mulled wine. 

Scroll down to see more on Roundwood and its facilities.

Set at the foot of the Slieve Bloom Mountains, just over an hour from Dublin, Roundwood is a beautiful and historically significant 18th century Irish country house. Warm reception rooms filled with antique furniture, bedrooms lined with paintings and overflowing bookshelves, crackling fires, good food, lovely gardens and extensive outbuildings, all give rise to a unique Irish experience.

Hannah & Paddy Flynn are proud to continue the tradition of caring for Roundwood House.

To book a ticket or to book B&B accommodation at Roundwood House, call 0578732120 or email    See website here.

One of the elegant bedrooms at Roundwood House

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