Rathfarnham Theatre Group



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Full cast and crew Prodigal Daughter HERE

Cast and crew HERE

Cover and back page HERE

The Production

Having been asked to create a dramatic Production on the 2018 Unesco OneCityOneBook “The Long Gaze Back” (a collection of Poetry by Irish Women Writers), I set about finding a suitable title – “Irish Women’s’ Voices – A Celebration”. Next on my agenda was finding a good and versatile Cast of women and men (yes we couldn’t do it without the men!) and this resulted in a Performance of Poetry, Drama, Music, Dance and Song based on “The Long Gaze Back”, and an excerpt from Mary Colum’s “Life and the Dream”.

Being 2018 – the Centenary of the Representation of the Peoples’ Act 1918, the almost forgotten Women’s’ Voices and their struggle to get the vote for women in Ireland came to mind. I decided to research the Suffragist Movement with Hanna Sheehy Skeffington’s Biography in one hand and articles and newspaper cuttings in the other, and also attending talks and exhibitions about the Suffragettes. I discovered a One-Act Play “The Prodigal Daughter” written by Francis Sheehy Skeffington which was performed at the Daffodil Fete in the Molesworth Hall in April 1914, and the women who had been imprisoned for the ‘cause’ concluded that Performance with “The Women’s Marseillaise”, both of which a very strong Cast re-enacted in Patrick Pearse’s St. Enda’s school and former home, the Pearse Museum, Rathfarnham, in April 2018 – 104 years after it’s first outing! Because of this it seemed appropriate to have Hanna and Francis Sheehy Skeffington’s granddaughter Micheline and grandson Alan and his wife in our audience on opening night and we are delighted to have photos with the descendants of such famous and important people from our history. It was especially moving that the opening night was on the anniversary of the death of Hanna in 1936.

“If it falls asleep at its post, we shall wake…with a stick.” “The stone and the shillelagh need no apology; they have an honoured place in the armoury of argument.”

On 13th June 1912 at 5am eight members of the IWFL marched off to their pre-arranged targets - the windows of Dublin Castle, the Custom House and the GPO with their cherrysticks. On 20th June the trial of the first four of the militants received enormous publicity. Hanna Sheehy Skeffington and Margaret Murphy represented themselves in Court and were charged with ‘wilful damage’ to 19 panes of glass. The women were given two months imprisonment and left the court in defiant mood. Marguerite Palmer turned to the packed gallery and shouted ‘Keep the Flag Flying’ while Hanna reminded the crowd that militancy was to continue and ‘by going to prison we have achieved the utter breakdown of the law’.

That day’s proceedings had marked the beginning of the end – the struggle for the vote had entered its final stage” (from Hanna Sheehy Skeffington’s account of events)

We were invited back to the Pearse Museum for a Heritage Week Performance of “The Prodigal Daughter” and “The Women’s Marseillaise” and we felt privileged to have Thomas McDonagh’s granddaughter Muriel in our audience – again we didn’t miss our photo opportunity. Thomas McDonagh was a teacher in Patrick Pearse’s School, St. Enda’s and a signatory to the Proclamation in 1916.

He shall not hear the bittern cry

In the wild sky, where he is lain,

Nor voices of the sweeter birds

Above the wailing of the rain.

Phil Fitzpatrick Producer/Director




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