Abbey Theatre

Fearghal McGarry, author and reader in history at Queen’s University will give a free lecture on the role of theatre in inspiring the Easter Rising and the Irish revolution on May 18.

Drawing on his new book, The Abbey Rebels of 1916 – A Lost Revolution, Feargal McGarry will explore the cultural impact of the Irish national theatre, founded by W.B. Yeats and Lady Gregory, on the generation of 1916. 

In 1904 Yeats and Lady Gregory founded the Abbey Theatre in Dublin with a manifesto “to bring upon the stage the deeper emotions of Ireland”. They had written the nationalistic-themed Cathleen Ni Houlihan in 1902 and years later in his poem The Man and Echo, Yeats wondered: “Did that play of mine send out/Certain men the English shot?”

Seven members of the Abbey Theatre fought in the Easter Rising – actresses Maire Nic Shuibhlaigh and Helena Molony, carpenter Barney Murphy and usherette Nellie Bushell, Sean Connolly, the first rebel to die in the Rising, Peadar Kearney, who wrote the words to A Soldier’s Song and Hollywood actor, Arthur Shields, brother of Barry Fitzgerald. 

Arthur Shields fought in the GPO during Easter Week and two decades later took the role of Patrick Pearse in the screen adaptation of Sean O’Casey’s The Plough and the Stars which will be screened in the Nerve Centre on June 4. Arthur Shields was a favourite of the film’s director, John Ford, and he went on to star in many of Ford’s most famous movies, including How Green was My Valley and The Quiet Man.  

As Feargal McGarry explains, 'The Abbey’s rebels were ordinary people, or more accurately, people from ordinary backgrounds. They were working class Dubliners, followers rather than leaders, whose role on the historical stage seemed to come to an end after Easter week.'

The talk is free to attend and begins at 7.30pm. 


Event Details


Tower Museum
Union Hall Place
BT48 6LU


Wednesday, May 18, 2016 - 19:30

Centenary Event

Tickets and further information

Free entry