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The Bursaries are named in honour of the 14 people who lost their lives at Croke Park on Bloody Sunday, 1920, to acknowledge their lives as a crucial part of the story of modern Ireland.
Applications for the bursaries opened in December 2020, and the quality and range of submissions were such that the Abbey Theatre created two additional types of support to assist the development of a further 14 projects. In total, the Abbey Theatre is providing €166,000 of investment in 28 projects provoked by the War of Independence and Civil War period, supporting 35 artists to explore and develop these ideas.
Co-Directors of the Abbey Theatre, Graham McLaren and Neil Murray said, “The Commemoration Bursaries acknowledge the debt that we all owe to those voices in history who have been ignored or unheard. Given the public health events of the past year, these projects relating to the War of Independence and Civil War are now being developed in a changed world and will revisit the past but also speak to now. We remain committed to supporting artists as this ever-changing pandemic continues, and we look forward to seeing these 28 projects develop and take life in the future.”
The Bursaries named in honour of those who lost their lives are to the value of €10,000 and support spanning a nine-month period. The recipients are:
Dermot Bolger, accepting the bursary named for Daniel Carroll
A play about PTSD and buried trauma within participants of the War of Independence and the Irish Civil War.
Timmy Creed, accepting the bursary named for Tom Hogan
An outdoor fireside performance, where audience members memorialise, commemorate and remember by ritual burning and participatory storytelling, inspired by The Burning of Cork.
Kate Heffernan, accepting the bursary named for Jerome O’Leary
A play about siblings, loss, and the story of war from the perspective of children.
Paul Keogan and Tara Lynne O’Neill, accepting the bursary named for Thomas Ryan
A visual and textual exploration of presence, absence and remembering, told through the autograph books of Paul’s grandmother, Mary Keogan, featuring signatures of republican prisoners in Crumlin Road Jail, Belfast and Ballykinlar Internment Camp, Co. Down.
Marc MacLochlainn and Christian O’Reilly, accepting the bursary named for Billy Scott
(This project will either be in Irish or substantively engaging with the Irish language)
Cradles are rested upon it, children play beneath it and families celebrate around it. The table is at the heart of the home. This play for young audiences explores the struggles of a family fractured by civil war.
Clare McMahon, accepting the bursary named for Patrick O’Dowd
A play about one rural woman, near the border, on the day of Partition.
Conall Morrison, accepting the bursary named for James Burke
A play about Partition, told through the stories of the people experiencing it on both sides of the new border, at the time.
Michael Patrick and Oisín Kearney, accepting the bursary named for Michael Feery
A play about The Battle of Belleek and Pettigo (1922) on the Irish border, the largest military engagement between Irish and British forces since the Easter Rising, and the last time Pro- and Anti-Treaty Forces fought together, before the Civil War.
Stephen Quinn, accepting the bursary named for James Matthews
A piece about fascism, homosexuality and Irish national identity.
Lynda Radley, accepting the bursary named for Perry Robinson
A play about The Burning of Cork, investigating the British campaign of misinformation and the heroic steps taken by locals to bring the truth to light.
James Riordan, accepting the bursary named for Michael Hogan
(This project will either be in Irish or substantively engaging with the Irish language)
A vocal weaving of violent history, personal pain and traditional lament for a solo female performer.
Raymond Scannell, accepting the bursary named for Jane Boyle
A play about the estranged relationship between Muriel Murphy and Máire MacSwiney Brugha (wife and only child of hunger striker Terrence MacSwiney) in the aftermath of the Civil War.
Ciara Elizabeth Smyth, accepting the bursary named for James Teehan
A play about the radicalisation of Protestant republican revolutionary Dr. Dorothy Stopford Price at Trinity College.
Aindrias de Staic, accepting the bursary named for Joe Traynor
A performance about the Dáil Courts told with music, rhythm and local histories.
A further four projects will receive support to the value of €4,000 over a six-month period. They are:
The project aims to develop the form for a play that explores how Cumann na mBan’s rejection of the Treaty resulted in the purposeful erasure of women from public life in the Free State and the national disremembering that ensued.
The project aims to develop an operatic piece about the internal life and external death of Terence MacSwiney.
A conversation with our history and future through research on The Burning of Cork 1920. (Self)immolation, reconstruction, deconstruction, trauma response and social contract as a lens for the contemporary moment.
Development of a piece of dance theatre that draws on the personal stories, experiences and emotional narratives of border communities. Exploring the different lived experiences extending from the consequences of Partition.
Further research into his play about Irish members of the RIC and Black and Tans.
Joanne Fitzgerald and Lou Dunne
Further research into Agnes O’Farrelly, forgotten Cavan writer, academic and activist; and an exploration of cultural memory and oral history.
Fionnuala will develop a multidisciplinary piece of work in Irish, exploring the complex history of the language from this historic period to now.
Barry John Kinsella (with Megan Kennedy)
Further development of Barry’s play about the bout between Senegalese Light Heavyweight World Champion, Battling Siki, and Irish boxer Mike McTigue in Dublin during the Civil War, March 1923, in collaboration with Megan Kennedy.
Research to find the particular focus for the narrative of an alternate history play, reimagining women’s place in a shame free Ireland.
Development of his play about the shooting of informers, paralleling an incident in his dad’s childhood where he was made to drown a beloved puppy.
Clare Monnelly and Bob Kelly
To research and develop a new play exploring the story of a persecuted woman betrayed by the broken promises of the Irish revolution, drawing on magical realist elements of Irish folk beliefs.
John Morton and Peter McGann
Further research into the form and focus of their play about the Folklore Commission.
Further research into the form for a performance, engaging with the Cuman na mBan commemoration concert for the executed leaders of 1916 at Kilmainham Gaol, 24th April 1923.
Further research to find a form and content threads for his research into the RIC and its disbandment.
For more information on the recipients, please see biographies below.
These 28 projects support the development of new work that the Abbey Theatre and the wider community may take forward to engage audiences with rich and varied theatrical responses to this period of history.
Barbara trained at Samuel Beckett Centre TCD. She won an Irish Times Theatre Award for her performance in Paula Meehan’s Cell. Writing credits include dark comedy TV series On The Couch, IFTA winning drama series Love Is The Drug, The Clinic and the Abbey Theatre’s 14 Voices from the Bloodied Field.
The poet, playwright and novelist Dermot Bolger is one of Ireland’s best known writers. His fourteen novels include The Journey Home and An Ark of Light. His debut play, The Lament for Arthur Cleary, received the Samuel Beckett Award. His numerous other plays include The Ballymun Trilogy, charting life in that working class suburb. His most recent Abbey Theatre plays were Last Orders at the Dockside and an adaptation of Joyce’s Ulysses. He has published nine poetry collections and in 2012 was named Commentator of the Year at the Irish Newspaper awards. He is a member of Aosdána.
Lee is a writer and Artistic Director of BLAL Theatre Company. His shows include Leper + Chip, Murder of Crows and In Our Veins. He was a participant on Rough Magic’s SEEDS programme, Lyric’s New Playwrights Programme and Irish Theatre Institute’s Six in the Attic. He is currently under commission from Axis Ballymun and Livin’ Dred. His TV show Dead Professional is currently in development.
Timmy Creed is an actor, writer and theatre-maker currently based in West Kerry. He trained as an actor at the Oxford School of Drama. He is interested in creating performance for new and broad audiences that mixes movement, documentary and storytelling. His debut play SPLICED, about his life as a GAA man, toured nationally and was presented at Traverse Theatre for Edinburgh Fringe ’19.He works bilingually and is exploring a new show about language and relationship to our native tongue. He is developing a performance with his sister about madness, psychiatric care and different states of being.
Louise Dunne is a Masters graduate of Stage Design from the Lir Academy. She also holds a first-class honours B.Ed Degree from NCAD and is a practising graphic designer. Since 2014 Louise has worked with numerous Dublin-based theatre groups in several guises, as an actress, designer, director and producer.
Joanne Fitzgerald is a writer and project manager from Dublin. Her first full-length play, Her Not Him, was long-listed for the 2017 Bruntwood Prize and produced at Theatre503, London in 2018. She is a graduate of the Playwriting MFA at the Lir Academy Dublin, where she met collaborator Louise Dunne.
Fionnuala is an actor and theatre-maker based in Dublin. She is dedicated to making ambitious, contemporary work that experiments with theatrical form. She is a founding member of Chaos Factory theatre company. Her most recent work as a maker was Twenty Fifty as part of Dublin Fringe Festival, 2020.
Kate Heffernan is a Laois-based writer and theatre artist. Her first play, In Dog Years I’m Dead (directed by Maisie Lee) was a winner of the 2013 Stewart Parker Trust Emerging Playwright Award. Peat, her first play for children (directed by Tim Crouch), was commissioned and produced by The Ark in 2019. Kate is currently artist in residence at Dunamaise Arts Centre, where she is developing Town Hall Style, a play for Laois Youth Theatre.
Oisín Kearney is a writer/director represented by Curtis Brown. Writing credits include: The Alternative (Winner: A Play for Ireland, ITTA Best Director & Best Soundscape. Nominee: ITTA & ZeBBie, Best New Play); My Left Nut (play and BBC Three adaptation, Winner: RTS(NI) Award); Educating Rita and Shirley Valentine localisation (Lyric Theatre). He has two BBC radio projects releasing this year and is under commission with Prime Cut Productions. Theatre directing credits include: Come Closer (Summerhall), Lie Low (ReBOOT) and My Left Nut (Pan Narrans & Prime Cut). He was the Lyric Theatre’s Resident AD (2019-2020). Film credits include an assistant producer role on 66 Days and Elían (Emmy-nominated, Oscar long-list). He has directed films for BBC, De Correspondent/NPO2, and Aljazeera, including feature documentary Bojayá (Hot Docs Toronto).
Bob Kelly is an actor and playwright who has previously written for Landmark Productions (Breakfast on Pluto), Blue Raincoat Theatre Company (Tintown, The Rallying Call) and the Hawk’s Well (The Big Wall). An experienced stage performer, he is currently a member of ITI’s Six in the Attic scheme.
Paul Keogan is a set and lighting designer for theatre, opera and dance from Dublin. His most recent design for the Abbey Theatre was The Great Hunger, a site-specific production in the grounds of the Irish Museum of Modern Art.
Barry John Kinsella
Barry John Kinsella graduated from the Lir in July 2018, playing, among others, Bobby in Madhouse (Peacock Theatre, Dublin Fringe Festival), Jay Gatsby in The Great Gatsby (Gate Theatre) and Tom in Skin Tight (Restless Ecstasy). Screen work includes features Lily (2019), The Sleep Experiment (2020), The Black Geulph (2021), Innocent 2 (ITV), Screen Ireland short Hum, by Mo O’Connell, and NI Screen short Copy That, by Margaret McGoldrick. He also co-wrote/starred in the Screen Ireland short Do I Know You? by Rioghnach Ní Ghrioghair.
Marc Mac Lochlainn
Marc Mac Lochlainn is the executive artistic director of Branar Téatar do Pháistí, which he founded in 2001. Along with Branar’s ensemble of actors he has created and directed all of Branar’s 20 plus original shows. Branar’s work has been performed all over the world and most recently Marc created and directed Sruth na Teanga, a large-scale immersive theatre experience for children, as part of Galway 2020 ECOC. He was a writer as part of Draíocht’s Home theatre (Ireland) project in 2018. Branar and Marc were the Theatre Artist in Residence in Mary Immaculate College of Education in Limerick.
Writer and Artistic Director of Red Bear Company, Tracy Martin was nominated for Best New Play in the 2019 Irish Times Theatre Awards for Dublin Will Show You How. She was also one of the writers for the Abbey Theatre’s 14 Voices from the Bloodied Field. Her other productions include Wrapped, Harder Faster More and Coast.
Peter writes and directs live radio theatre night Pulp Injection. With John Morton, he wrote The Hellfire Squad and The Roaring Banshees. With Stephen Colfer and Hannah Mamalis, he wrote Personal Space and Personal Space Vol II. He’s acted onstage in Starlet, Trial of the Centurys, and 24 Hour Plays.
Clare is a playwright and actor from Belfast. Her new play The Gap Year was selected for the first Irish Festival – New York in their Vital Voices programme. It was also the first in the Lyric Theatre’s Listen At The Lyric programme, 2020. Clare recently wrote Lily, the first virtual-reality film to create a 360 experience of living with early-onset Alzheimer’s. Clare’s debut play Shakespeare’s Women sold-out its tour across Northern Ireland. She was part of the Lyric Playwright’s Programme 2019 and one of Play for Ireland’s shortlisted writers with Fishamble. Clare graduated from the Lir Academy and is one half of Commedia of Errors.
Paul McMahon’s previous plays include The Glasshouse and The Blueprint. Awards include The Keats-Shelley and The Moth International Poetry Prizes, The Eamon Keane Playwriting Award (shortlisted), The Bruntwood Playwriting Prize (longlisted), and Arts Council Bursary Awards. Paul’s poetry chapbook, Bourdon, is published by Southword Editions. His poetry has appeared in The Poetry Review, The Threepenny Review, and others.
Clare Monnelly is a writer and actor who has worked with Druid, the Abbey Theatre, the Gate, Livin’ Dred, Decadent, RTÉ, Sky One, TG4, Element Pictures, Deadpan Pictures and many others. Her work has been nominated for three Irish Times Theatre Awards and the Stewart Parker New Playwright Bursary.
Conall Morrison is a director and writer. As well as a long association with the Abbey Theatre – this Commemoration Bursary play will be his thirtieth Abbey project – he has directed for the Royal Shakespeare Company, the Globe Theatre, English National Opera, Landmark Productions, Fishamble: The New Play Company, the Lyric Theatre, and many leading independent theatre companies. For the Abbey Theatre, he recently co-directed The Great Hunger with Caitríona McLaughlin in the grounds of IMMA. As well as several original plays, he has done many adaptations, including TarryFlynn, Antigone, Ghosts; he adapted Swift’s works for his play The Travels of Jonathan Swift, presented by Blue Raincoat Theatre Co.
For the stage John has written the plays Denouement, Taboo, War Of Attrition, Scratcher, Smitten and co-wrote The Hellfire Squad and The Roaring Banshees with Peter McGann. He also wrote the adaptation of Thomas Kilroy’s novel The Big Chapel for Kilkenny Arts Festival.
John O’Brien is a composer, conductor, and director who has worked on over 50 productions of opera and theatre in Ireland, UK and Canada, and has toured across Europe, Japan and China. John is acclaimed for directing and conducting Faust, Der Vampyr, Orpheus, and Pagliacci at The Everyman. Compositions include the opera The Nightingale and the Rose (Irish tour 2018) and Easter 1916 – premiered by Fiona Shaw and the RTÉ Concert Orchestra.
Ruairí Ó Donnabháin
Ruairí Ó Donnabháin is a language activist and a choreographer; he is making ritual objects for a tribe which doesn’t exist. Ó Donnabháin has been making dances in Ireland since 2008. He is a Masters in Choreography Graduate from DAS Graduate School Amsterdam and holds a joint honors B.A. in Drama and Theatre Studies and English from University College Cork. Ó Donnabháin is from County Cork, Ireland and his choreographic practice is concerned with ‘aesthetic practices of care’. He lives and works on Oileán Chléire, a remote island and Gaeltacht off the south west coast of Co. Cork investigating Gaeilge as a site of queer resistance and new materialist collaboration ‘in the wild’.
Emma O’Grady is a Galway-based theatre artist: actor, writer and production manager. She collaborates with people to create theatre, film and art inspired by true events, real lives and shared histories. She is a participant on Druid FUEL and recipient of an Arts Council Theatre Bursary.
Tara Lynne O’Neill
Tara Lynne O’Neill is an actress, writer and producer from Belfast. She has worked with numerous companies including Tinderbox, Kabosh, Ouroborous, Prime Cut, The Lyric, The MAC, The Gate Dublin, and Solas Nua, Washington. Her film and TV work includes dramas for HBO, CBS, BBC and most recently appearing in Derry Girls for Channel 4. As a writer she has commissions from Brassneck, Kabosh, and The MAC. The production of her play Rough Girls for The Lyric Theatre was postponed in 2020 due to COVID-19. She has co-written and produced sell-out shows On the Shelf and Xmas for Dummies, also producing Me Mum And Dusty Springfield all for The Grand Opera House, Belfast.
Christian is a playwright and screenwriter. His plays include It Just Came Out (Druid Debut Series, 2001); The Good Father (Druid – 2002 Galway Arts Festival); Is This About Sex? (Rough Magic – 2007 Edinburgh Fringe Festival); Here We Are Again Still (Decadent/Galway City Council, 2009); Sanctuary (Blue Teapot – 2012 Galway Theatre Festival) and Chapatti (Northlight/Galway International Arts Festival, 2014). His screen credits include the feature films Inside I’m Dancing (2004 – ‘Story By’ credit) and Sanctuary (2016), which featured an ensemble cast of actors with intellectual disabilities from Blue Teapot Theatre Company.
Shane recently wrote windowpane for the Abbey Theatre. Other writing work includes; The Water Boys (Equinox Theatre), Näher…closer, nearer, sooner (co-created with The Liz Roche Company) FOLLOW, FARM & CARE (co-created with WillFredd Theatre). Shane has recently completed a new play for Barnstorm Theatre Company which will premiere in 2022.
Michael Patrick is a Belfast actor and writer. Writing credits include The Alternative (Nominee: Best New Play, Irish Times Theatre Award and ZeBBie Award); My Left Nut (Nominee: Bewley’s Little Gem Award, Winner: Summerhall Lustrum Award) which he adapted into a BBC Three Series (Winner: Best Drama, RTS NI Awards), and he has a BBC Radio Ulster Series and a BBC Radio 4 drama releasing this year. He is currently on commission with Prime Cut Productions. Acting credits include The Royal Shakespeare Company, The Abbey Theatre, The Lyric Theatre, NI Opera, Tinderbox, BBC Radio Ulster, BBC Radio Four, Game of Thrones, Krypton, Bernard Dunne’s Mythical Heroes, Soft Border Patrol and The Keeper.
Dylan is a Choreographer, Dance Artist, Movement Director and facilitator. He has worked nationally and internationally as a freelance artist and AD of Dylan Quinn Dance Theatre, creating, producing and presenting performance and participation work. Dylan is a community activist with extensive experience of operating within peace and conflict contexts.
Stephen Quinn is a theatre and performance maker, whose work peers through the kaleidoscope of Irish queer identity via music theatre; drag; burlesque, physical theatre and alternative cabaret. Credits include Anu Productions Faultline (Gate Theatre and Dublin Theatre Festival, 2019), Overfired (winner of the Outburst Queer Fringe Award at Dublin Fringe, 2018) and MacArthur Fellow Taylor Mac’s A 24 Decade History of Popular Music: The First Act (LIFT, 2018, Barbican Theatre). Stephen is also the co-creator/host of the explosive queer performance event SPICEBAG where he performs as his alter ego Stefan Fae.
Lynda Radley is a playwright from Cork. Previous work with the Abbey Theatre includes 14 Voices from the Bloodied Field. The Interference (Pepperdine Scotland) won a Fringe First and was short-listed for The Amnesty International Freedom of Expression award. Lynda also won a Fringe First for Futureproof (Traverse Theatre in association with Dundee Rep). The Art of Swimming (Playgroup) was shortlisted for Meyer Whitworth and Total Theatre awards, and toured internationally. Other theatre work includes The Mother Load, Christmas Tales (Lyceum Theatre), Scenes for Survival (National Theatre of Scotland), Berlin Love Tour, The Heights, Soap! and Integrity (Playgroup).
James is an interdisciplinary theatre maker and Artistic Director of Galway based Brú Theatre. He works bilingually in various roles and collaborates widely. Writing credits include his one-man play Selvage – nominated for two Irish Times Theatre Awards 2019 including Best Actor – and Gol, to be presented later this year. Ar Ais Arís, Brú Theatre’s merging of virtual reality and Irish language literature shot in Connemara, will be touring this summer. He is currently Theatre Artist in Residence in the Town Hall Theatre, Galway.
Ray Scannell is a theatre-maker whose work spans writing, performance and music. His latest play The Bluffer’s Guide to Suburbia premiered in 2019 at the Cork Midsummer Festival and was his Dublin Theatre Festival writing debut. Deep (2013) won ‘Best Male Performer’ at the Dublin Fringe Festival, and Mimic (winner of ‘Best Male Performer’, Dublin Fringe 2008) toured nationally and internationally. Sound/composition design includes Town is Dead (Abbey Theatre, Winner: Best Sound Design Composition, Irish Times Theatre Awards 2016) and Alice in Funderland (thisispopbaby Theatre Co./Abbey Theatre, nominated for Best Production at the Irish Times Theatre Awards 2012).
Ciara Elizabeth Smyth
Ciara Elizabeth Smyth is an award-winning playwright from Dublin. Her plays have been presented by the Abbey Theatre, Fishamble: The New Play Company, Dublin Fringe, Project Arts Centre and Bewley’s Cafe Theatre. Currently, Ciara is on commission to adapt her debut play, All Honey (Fishamble New Writing Award 2017) and her 2019 play SAUCE for television, with Buccaneer Media and Maia Pictures, respectively. She is also on commission with National Youth Theatre of Ireland, Fishamble and Chapter One Pictures. Ciara was the playwright on Rough Magic’s SEEDS programme 2018-2020, recipient of the Next Generation Award 2020 and is represented by Curtis Brown.
Aindrias de Staic
Aindrias is a new generation Irish storyteller who uses rhythm, music and a natural dramatic delivery in his work. Aindrias learnt his storytelling abilities from his late father Eddie Stack, writer/storyteller from Clare, but Aindrias’s unique energetic style is also influenced by his upbringing near the Mayo Gaeltacht. He continues to research storytelling with various communities locally and perform internationally. His spoken-word story ‘The Man from Moogaga’ received development support from the Arts Council, and toured widely before its radio adaptation via Newstalk won Best Radio Comedy 2018 at the Celtic Media Awards in the UK.