Online play honours Cork’s martyred Mayors

This being the centenary year of the deaths of Cork’s Lord Mayors, Tomas MacCurtain and Terence McSwiney, Pat Talbot wanted to mark it, writes Colette Sheridan
Online play honours Cork’s martyred Mayors

Dominic McHale who performs in the upcoming play 'Two Lord Mayors'. Picture: Jim Coughlan.

AS he directs the cast for a play about Cork’s martyred Lord Mayors to be audio streamed from the Everyman, Pat Talbot is incensed about the decision to open cinemas but not theatres as part of the management of the pandemic.

“I feel the decision is quite appalling,” says Pat who co-authored Two Lord Mayors with writer, Jim McKeon.

“No rationale has been offered as to why this is happening. To imply in some way that going to a cinema is perhaps safer than going to a theatre is nonsense.

“And unlike gastro pubs and restaurants, people at the theatre could be distanced, wearing masks, not talking and looking in one direction.”

He adds that an explanation is needed from the health authorities for the blanket closure of theatres.

This being the centenary year of the deaths of Cork’s Lord Mayors, Tomas MacCurtain (murdered by the RIC in front of his wife and son) and his successor, Terence McSwiney (who died on hunger strike in Brixton Prison), Pat wanted to mark it.

“I suppose there are certain parallels. Obviously, 1920 was an extraordinary year in Cork and in the country given that the War of Independence was at its zenith. It was a dramatic and violent era in Cork with the deaths of two consecutive Lord Mayors, the Kilmichael Ambush, the burning of the city centre and the introduction of the Black and Tans and the auxiliaries who seemed to have a particular impact on this city.

“One hundred years later, in a different context obviously, 2020 will forever be remembered as the year of Covid-19. By dint of Covid-19 and the lockdowns, we haven’t been able to remember 1920 in the way we would have done if we didn’t have the pandemic.”

Tadhg Hickey who plays Tomas Mac Curtain in the upcoming play 'Two Lord Mayors'.
Tadhg Hickey who plays Tomas Mac Curtain in the upcoming play 'Two Lord Mayors'.

The play stars Tadhg Hickey as Tomas MacCurtain, best known for his work with comedy troupe, Cccahoots. And another comic actor, Dominic McHale, also of Cccahoots and famously, as the obsessive Garda Healy in The Young Offenders, plays Terence McSwiney. Both funny men are accomplished actors. Dominic played Michael Collins in Pat’s 2016 play, ‘A Great Arrangement.’

Also in the play are Gary Murphy as the Lord Mayors’ secretary and Mark Wilson as a fictitious reporter, William Morgan.

The reporter, from The Times of London, is sent to Cork “to get a perspective on what is happening. He is in the city when Tomas MacCurtain is murdered and is instructed to stay for the funeral. Being a reporter means that he provides a different prism through which the audience gets a perspective on the event.”

When Terence MacSwiney goes on hunger strike in Brixton Prison, the reporter is sent there to get a few words from the prisoner. “The interest in Terence MacSwiney was immense, coming from all over the world.

“The play is an evocation of what was happening at the time and it’s also a portrait of the two men who were very much at the heart of these extraordinary events.”

Two Lord Mayors will be streamed on December 19 at 8pm. Tickets: €12. 


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