Before Trevor came on board five years ago, the Montfort College of Performing Arts catered for about 600 students. There are now 1,500 students and a staff of 28 part time and full-time teachers. Trevor says the increase in student numbers is down to marketing and the fact that the Montfort brand is so strong.
While there is much competition in Cork for drama schools, Eileen says: “We don’t see it like that. The people running them are all our past pupils. There’s Catherine Mahon-Buckley, Irene Warren, Shirley McCarthy and Rebecca Allman. We were happy to let them go if they wanted to go and we gave them our blessing. They’re still friends. That’s very much what our college is about. There are lovely happy relationships in all the classes. We have a girl staying with us who’s American. We met her when we took our group to America to do musical theatre. The Americans came back with us. The first exchange from Jefferson City was in 1978. We went there several times and still have a great connection there. Fr John Long, originally from Cork, was very important in that liaison. He’s very much involved in theatre in America.”
Eileen recalls being very much “a peripatetic teacher, going all over the place to teach. My father would tell me that I was spending more money on petrol than I was making in wages. The driving, to places like Waterford and West Cork, took a lot of hard work.”