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Story of Kerry ambush set to hit the stage in Milltown

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Some of the members of the cast of ‘Ballymacandy’ during rehearsals this week: front l-r: Siobhán Collins (Annie Cronin), Claire O’Connor (Maggie Slattery), back l-r: Chris Horan (Commissioner Smyth), Jeremiah Murphy (Constable John Quirke), Muireann McAuliffe (Meriel Leeson Marshall), Michael Quirke (Jack Flynn), John Sexton (Denis Sugrue), Joe Horan (Totty O’Sullivan).

Some of the members of the cast of ‘Ballymacandy’ during rehearsals this week: front l-r: Siobhán Collins (Annie Cronin), Claire O’Connor (Maggie Slattery), back l-r: Chris Horan (Commissioner Smyth), Jeremiah Murphy (Constable John Quirke), Muireann McAuliffe (Meriel Leeson Marshall), Michael Quirke (Jack Flynn), John Sexton (Denis Sugrue), Joe Horan (Totty O’Sullivan).

Some of the members of the cast of ‘Ballymacandy’ during rehearsals this week: front l-r: Siobhán Collins (Annie Cronin), Claire O’Connor (Maggie Slattery), back l-r: Chris Horan (Commissioner Smyth), Jeremiah Murphy (Constable John Quirke), Muireann McAuliffe (Meriel Leeson Marshall), Michael Quirke (Jack Flynn), John Sexton (Denis Sugrue), Joe Horan (Totty O’Sullivan).

kerryman

Historian Owen O’Shea’s best-selling book ‘Ballymacandy: the Story of a Kerry Ambush’ will next month break new ground when a play based on the book takes centre stage at Milltown’s Muintir na Tíre Hall.

Owen also wrote the play, based around the IRA ambush of Crown Force members near Milltown in 1921. A cast of nearly 30 locals – all of whom live near where five RIC and Black and Tan members were killed 101 years ago – will bring his writing to life when they thread the boards over five nights in November.

The Mike O’Halloran-directed performances will take place at 8pm on each of the five chosen dates: November 3, 4, 5, 11, and 12.

“As with the book, the play attempts to portray these events from all of the different perspectives, those of the IRA and Cumann na mBan; the RIC and Black and Tans; as well as the perspectives of local civilians in Milltown and Castlemaine who were caught up in the events,” Owen said. “The ambush involved IRA men from the locality as well as from Tralee, Castlegregory, and Keel, so we hope the play will have a wide appeal.”

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Most of the cast have never been on stage before, but preparation has been extensive and long running, and Owen has no nerves over their ability to convey the story.

“They have really embraced the story and have been moved to portray events based on the evidence we have about what actually happened,” he said. “Writing the play was a challenge because these were real people and not fictional characters, but thanks to the directing skills of Mike O’Halloran and the professionalism of such a great cast, I think we will do the story great justice.”

Tickets, at €15, are available from www.owenoshea.ie and must be booked in advance for door collection by 7.30pm on each night. Doors open on each of the five dates from 7pm.


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