A new play on the life of Edinburgh-born trade union leader, socialist and Irish freedom fighter James Connolly, written by Brian McCardie and Martin McCardie.
Internationally renowned and celebrated James Connolly has only ever received a grudging footnote in the city and the country of his birth. In this the centenary of his death, and that of the Easter Rising, Brian McCardie performs a solo play that unequivocally explores the many layers of the multi-faceted Connolly.
McCardie, like so many hailing from the West of Scotland, has, through family history, deep-rooted connections with Ireland, which have developed his profound understanding of the sometime turbulent relationships this has given rise to in the country of his birth.
Brian McCardie said: “James Connolly was a Scotsman, Irish diaspora, a feminist 19th century socialist trade union leader, revolutionary commandant General in the Irish Rising of 1916 and martyr. It appears people know only of his sacrifice, and little of the man. Why has he been excised from Scottish history? This play is an exploration of the man and how I, diaspora from Lanarkshire, relate his words to today.”
More recently McCardie was cast as Connolly for the RTE series “Rebellion”, currently being broadcast (Spring 2016). The series uses the Easter Rising as a back-drop to tell the love story of two imagined characters. No doubt for James Connolly (autodiktat and playwright, amongst his many accomplishments) this would have raised a wry smile. For McCardie this has spurred him on to turn a lifetime fascination and not a few years research into a unique piece of theatre. It transcends the myth and legend that has at best filled a vacuum or at worst attempted to bury any trace of one of the most significant figures to come out of Scotland.
The play explores Connolly’s life as Hibs kit-boy, revolutionary, poet, union organiser, author, publisher, international socialist, feminist, British soldier and deserter, playwright, street corner orator, labourer, military strategist, family man, self-educated historian, journalist, firebrand agitator, husband, relentless scourge of the Victorian predatory capitalist profiteers, Irish freedom fighter, and martyr.
Written and directed by multi-award-winning team of playwright Martin McCardie and actor Brian McCardie, Connolly’s own words, the recollections of fellow Irish volunteers, and the testimony of his adored daughter, Nora Connolly - O’Brien, are all used to bring a personal and human perspective to a man whose legacy has lived on beyond the momentous events of 1916.