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27 September 2001 Edition

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John Boyle O'Reilly in Kilmainham

John Boyle O'Reilly was some character. Shipped to Australia for his Fenian activites, he escaped and sailed to the more hospitable shores of Amerikay only to return seven years later to rescue another boatload of political prisoners and once again set off for the US.

With this in mind, I was expecting a lively enough performance from Sean Roche and Breandan Woods at Kilmainham Jail last weekend to `commemorate through words and music the life of John Boyle O'Reilly and the Catalpa escape'. The show lasted approximately an hour and O'Reilly's experiences, from his arrest in a Dublin pub, his transportation to Australia and his eventual escape, were retold through both his own and through the eyes of the other Fenian convicts.

Interspersed throughout the readings, Sean Roche's strong Cork voice echoed forth the rebel songs of the period, creating a fantastic atmosphere. The strength of camaradery and the dream of a United Ireland, almost within the grasp of the Fenians, was succinctly relayed in this performance.

The occasion afforded the opportunity to explore a side of Irish republicanism that has never been properly explored, the connection between Ireland and Australia. For those republicans interested in Irish history, Roche and Woods are well worth seeing. For those not so historically inclined, it would provide a perfect buffer between this weekend's Ard Fheis debates and the night's revelries.

The Life and Times of John Boyle O'Reilly is playing in Kilmainham Jail on Saturday 29 and Sunday 30 September at 7.30pm. For a guided tour of the prison arrive at 5.30pm.

For further details Dermot 087 615 9946.

BY CHRIS Ó RÁLAIGH


An Phoblacht
44 Parnell Sq.
Dublin 1
Ireland
 

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