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Hunger Strike play based on real-life experiences will be staged in the CYMS Hall, Killorglin this March

The premiere of a civil war play by an author, revolutionary activist and Killorglin native will be staged in the CYMS Hall, Killorglin March 24, 25 and 26 and again on March 31 and April 1.

Hunger Strike was penned by Máirín Cregan who was born in Killorglin in 1891 and went on to become an internationally-renowned children’s author and playwright.

The play, written less than a decade after the Civil War, wasc onsidered too controversial to warrant its production by the Abbey Theatre and was rejected in 1931. Eventually published in 1933, it was adapted for radio 2RN – later to become Raidío Éireann – three years later.

Cregan was a talented musician and moved to Dublin in 1914 to study music. She joined Cumann na mBan and, on Holy Thursday 1916, smuggled arms and letters in a violin case and travelled to Tralee by train to hand everything over to Austin Stack.

In 1919, she married Dr James Ryan, who had fought at the GPO in 1916. Elected to the First Dáil in 1919, he would become one of the co-founders of Fianna Fáil and served in various ministerial posts until his retirement in 1965.

The couple was vehemently anti-treaty and the play is based on their real-life experiences when James was interned by the Free State government and, in the autumn of 1923, joined a hunger strike for 36 days at the Tintown Camp, the Curragh, Co Kildare.

The play, which will open each night at 8.00pm, set in Kerry in 1923, demonstrates the Civil War divisions – both pro and anti-Treaty aspects of the debate.

Co-directed by Mary Gallagher and Noel Shanahan, this is the first ever stage production of Hunger Strike and the cast and production team comprise members from various drama groups. Bookings can be made on 066-9762053 and tickets will also be available at the door.

That same weekend, on March 26, from 10.00am to 1.00pm, at St Michael’s Hall, Iveragh Road, Killorglin, Killorglin Archive Society will present a symposium titled The Civil War: local, regional and national perspectives.

It will feature four presentations on the revolutionary period and the guest speakers will be Dr Daithí Ó Corráin, Sinead Joy, Tom Doyle and Dr Síofra Aiken of Queen’s University Belfast, who will lecture on women’s involvement in the Civil War. Entry to the aymposium is free and all are welcome.

On Sunday, March 27, a plaque will be unveiled at the grave of the Cregan family, at Dromavalla Cemetery, Killorglin, at 11.00am.

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