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Drama and theatrical performance played a key role in the 1916 Irish rebellion and its revolutionary energies. For James Connolly, Constance Markiewicz, Patrick Pearse and others, pageants, parades and nationalist drama galvanised insurrectionary feeling and aided recruitment.
A politically diverse range of theatre groups were involved: from the Irish National Literary Society, Limited at the Abbey Theatre to Inghinidhe na hÉireann (the Daughters of Ireland), the Irish Theatre at Hardiwick Street, and Cumann na nGaedhael Theatre Company. Influential plays included Augusta Gregory and William Butler Yeats’s Cathleen ni Houlihan (1902), Gregory’s The Rising of the Moon (1907), Patrick Pearse’s The Master (1915) and James Connolly’s Under Which Flag? (1916).
As well as providing inspiration, theatrical performance also influenced the concept of the Easter Uprising and later commemorations of the revolutionary moment itself. Join Lionel Pilkington of the National University of Ireland, Galway to learn more.
Lionel Pilkington is a Professor of English at the National University of Ireland, Galway. He is co-editor (with Fiona Bateman) of Studies in Settler Colonialism: Politics, Identity and Culture (Palgrave, 2011) and author of Theatre and the State in 20thCentury Ireland: Cultivating the People (Routledge, 2001) and Theatre & Ireland (Palgrave 2011). Capitalism, taxation and ideas of acting (as theatrical performance and as social and political intervention) feature prominently in his current research project: a cultural history of neo-liberalism in Ireland from 1958 to 2008.