Mayo actor to be part of historic Bloody Sunday commemoration

This month, to commemorate the 100th anniversary of Bloody Sunday, the Abbey Theatre partners for the first time with the GAA to give voice to the 14 men, woman and children who were killed in Croke Park on November 21, 1920.

With 14 Voices from the Bloodied Field, the Abbey Theatre commissioned 14 writers to write 14 monologues and, with 14 directors and 14 actors, create a 14-minute play for a solo performer. These 14 stories, each centred around one of the victims of that day, will be filmed in Croke Park and streamed online on November 20.

The victims of the atrocity were: Jane Boyle, James Burke, Daniel Carroll, Michael Feery, Tom Hogan, Michael Hogan, James Matthews, Patrick O’Dowd, Jerome O’Leary, William (Perry) Robinson, Thomas Ryan, John William (Billy) Scott, James Teehan and Joe Traynor.

Among those taking part in 14 Voices from the Bloodied Field is acclaimed Mayo actor Ian O’Reilly, whose breakout role was Padraic in Moone Boy. Ian is a native of Moorehall.

In 14 Voices from the Bloodied Field, Ian will perform in a specially written piece by Fionn Foley, directed by Jeda de Brí, which will give voice to one of the victims who died, John William (Billy) Scott.

Ian got his first taste of the acting world at the All Stars Academy of Performing Arts. In Sky One’s award-winning comedy Moone Boy, Ian played the role of Padraic O’Dwyer. Since then he has taken to the stage in various productions, including The Cripple of Inishmaan at the Gaiety Theatre and Drama at Inish at the Abbey Theatre, while he has also starred in Amazon Prime’s acclaimed Dating Amber, released earlier this year.

Honour

Graham McLaren and Neil Murray, directors of the Abbey Theatre, said: “The world premiere of 14 Voices from the Bloodied Field sees two of Ireland’s leading institutions coming together to mark a tragic moment in Ireland’s history.

“When we conceived of this project, our aim was to honour these 14 people with a historic partnership with the GAA. Theatre has always provided Ireland with a place to reflect and process. We invite audiences in Ireland and abroad to join us as we pay tribute to those who lost their lives 100 years ago.”

GAA president John Horan added: “From the outset our work around the commemoration of this hugely significant event in Irish and GAA history has been to put people first. Our goal at all times has been to remember and pay respect to the people who went to a match and tragically never came home.

“We are delighted that the Abbey have also shared that vision and have given it their full support, and we look forward to seeing the fruits of their creative talents, with Croke Park no doubt providing a perfect stage for their performances.”

The Minister for Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport & Media, Catherine Martin, said: “I am very pleased to have the opportunity to support this new initiative from the Abbey Theatre. Creative endeavours such as this have a very important role as we remember the difficult and often deeply personal events that defined the struggle for independence.

“My priority is to ensure that the state's approach to the remembrance of this very difficult period in our history is grounded in the respectful, sensitive, measured and authentic ethos that has become the hallmark of the Decade of Centenaries programme. It is important that our history is faithfully presented, even when the historical record is distressing, and that we acknowledge the great tragedy of the lives that were lost or irrevocably altered during those divisive and traumatic years.

“The work of artists encourages us to revisit painful memories and engage with the difficult legacies of our past; this form of respectful public discourse is essential for any honest and authentic exploration of our history. I am delighted that my department could assist in ensuring this important work could reach a wide audience.”

Poignant

The Abbey Theatre has brought together some of the country's leading writers, directors and actors for this poignant commemoration.

The writers: Deirdre Kinahan, Fionn Foley, Timmy Creed, Billy Roche, Jo Egan, Stephen Brennan, Jimmy Smallhorne, Lynda Radley, Tracy Martin, Paul Howard, Barbara Bergin, Thomas Kilroy, Colin Murphy and Jimmy Murphy.

The directors: Jo Mangan, Jeda de Brí, Tom Creed, Raymond Keane, Maisie Lee, Jane Brennan, Emma Jordan, Dan Colley, Sarah Jane Scaife, Ben Barnes, Ronan Phelan, Stephen Rea, Eoghan Carrick and Veronica Coburn.

The actors: Caitriona Ennis, Ian O’Reilly, Alex Murphy, Moe Dunford, Shane O’Reilly, Liam Heslin, Steve Blount, Jack Galvin, Bryan Burroughs, Frank Blake, Jake Verrecchia, Laurence Kinlan, Marty Rea and Callan Cummins.

On the eve of the centenary, starting at 7 p.m., this commemorative performance will be streamed on the Abbey Theatre’s YouTube, Facebook and Twitter channels, and on abbeytheatre.ie. It will be available to watch for 48 hours.

The Abbey Theatre gratefully acknowledges the support of the Arts Council, the Department of Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport & Media, and principal partner Bank of America.

*Pictured above, Mayo actor Ian O'Reilly will be part of the historic Bloody Sunday commemoration.

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