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Beneath An Irish Sky: Letterkenny and 1916

A Terrible Beauty: Remembering 1916 is our short season of events inspired by the 1916 Easter Rising. We’ll have three shows, the first of which is a rehearsed reading of a new play by local writer Kieran Kelly.

Kieran Kelly with his book Letterkenny Where The Winding Swilly Flows

Kieran Kelly with his book Letterkenny Where The Winding Swilly Flows

Kieran Kelly will be well known to An Grianán regulars as he has performed many times on our stage in productions as diverse as A Midsummer’s Night Dream, The 39 Steps and Sister Act to name just a few. As a author he has written a book on the history of Letterkenny and a children’s play, Echoes of Time, commissioned by An Grianán to celebrate Letterkenny’s 400th anniversary.

Inspired by archive reports and eye witness testimonies, his new play Beneath An Irish Sky looks at the events of 1916 from a Donegal perspective. It is a fictionalised account of one man’s journey through those those turbulent times, questioning what made him pick up a gun to fight for his country and how one moment in his youth affected the rest of his life.

The Pulpit of the Four Masters in St. Eunan’s Cathedral, Letterkenny. Patrick and Willie Pearse both helped with the design and sculpting of this while working in their father’s business in 1900

The Pulpit of the Four Masters in St. Eunan’s Cathedral, Letterkenny. Patrick and Willie Pearse both helped with the design and sculpting of this while working in their father’s business in 1900

“Beneath an Irish Sky is my tale of a character from Letterkenny, Brendan McDaid, as he recalls years later how he moved from the peaceful Nationalism of the Ancient Order of Hibernians into the more militant Republicanism of Sinn Féin as a direct consequence of the 1916 Rising.” explains Kieran. “This life altering decision will have far reaching implications for both himself and his family. Based on research from eyewitness testimonies and archive newspaper reports, Letterkenny between 1914 and 1921 serves as the backdrop to his journey.”

This dramatic reading will be directed by David Grant and will feature a cast of 8 actors. David Grant has enjoyed a varied career in theatre throughout Ireland as director, critic and teacher. He has been Managing Editor of Theatre Ireland magazine, Programme Director of the Dublin Theatre Festival and Artistic Director of the Lyric Theatre, Belfast and has directed more than a hundred theatre productions ranging from Shakespeare to new and devised work. He currently lectures in drama at Queen’s University, Belfast. He has directed several productions for An Grianán: Frank Pig Says Hello (2014), A Midsummer Night’s Dream (2008) and Thomas Kilroy’s The O’Neill (2007).

The British troops departing Letterkenny in 1922 following the War of Independence

British troops departing Letterkenny in 1922 following the War of Independence

Letterkenny has a few historic connections to the Rising – the Pulpit of the Four Masters in St. Eunan’s Cathedral was designed and sculpted by the family of Patrick Pearse, and Joseph Sweeney, who fought at the GPO, attended St. Eunan’s College.

A Terrible Beauty: Remembering 1916

Tues 22 March at 8pm
Beneath An Irish Sky – rehearsed reading
Tickets: €5 Book now

Wed 23 March at 8pm
The Rising
Tickets: €15/€12 Book now

Fri 1 April
Left Behind: The Widows of 1916
Tickets: €15/€12 Book now

This performance supported by Donegal County Council and the Ireland 1916 Cetenary programme.

This performance supported by Donegal County Council and the Ireland 1916 Centenary programme.