The genealogy of rebellion

They were an odd, eclectic bunch to be taking on an empire.

Moreover, it wasn’t just any imperium.

The British Empire in 1916 was yet to reach its zenith.

This haphazardly assembled crew in Dublin ignited a fire that would burn from Amritsar to Aden.

It was not just Ireland where things were changed, changed utterly.

The Terrible Beauty of Easter Week 1916 would eventually be felt throughout Britain’s stolen lands.

Yesterday Baby Doctor and the Big Fella came back into the house.

I was upstairs in the study.

They were singing the Foggy Dew.

It was a lovely moment.

The Rising and all that flowed from it is in their line from both sides of the house.

However, despite their father’s journalistic work over the years it rarely features in the day and day of this place.

It’s there though.

I thought it was a fairly authentic manifestation of where Irish millennials are with this stuff.

Perhaps, the centenary celebrations last year was a rite of passage for that generation.

It was certainly a difficult anniversary for revisionists.

With the Northern War over and Sinn Féin established in the Dáil it was a difficult time to push the Ruth Dudley Edwards agenda about those ungrateful bounders in the GPO.

It was also a hugely significant last year that our head of state was historically literate and had a nuanced grasp of the complexities of the significance of the Rising.

It was an honour to be in the front row on the Mall in Westport last May with the rest of the Frongoch relatives and listen to our President knock it out of the park.

His speech was brilliant tour d’horizon of the 1916 combatant generation.

It made me doubly grateful to be able to vote for my head of state.

We were there to honour the 31 men who had been scooped up in the aftermath of the Rising in the Mayo town.

They were sent to Frongoch prison camp in Wales.

One of them, Michael Derrig, was my grandmother’s brother.

It was only that day that I realised that I had put something into my 1916 play “Rebellion” without realising the significance of it.

This picture emerged of Na Fianna Éireann in Westport.

My grandfather is in the back row.

When my son stood beside the poster, local people were struck by the likeness between Great grandfather and great-grandson.

In my play, I had asked the director to cast the same actor in the role of 1916 Volunteer Tom Murphy and his great great grandson John Brown.

In fact, I insisted upon it.

I was making a point.

As John Brown in “Rebellion” was undertaking some family research for his mother he discovered Volunteer Tom Murphy.

The same actor played both characters on stage.

However, I had written this into the play in the winter of 2015.

That was BEFORE this photograph had emerged in Westport as it had been lost for years.

There is definitely something about the writing process that I do not understand.

For the avoidance of doubt, this isn’t a digression.

Easter Week was a writer’s rebellion.

It was conceived in creative minds. It was performance art that showed the Irish people that another life was possible.

Some of the first shots in the Rising were fired by an actor.

Sean Connolly was treading the board of revolution when they tried to storm Dublin Castle.

He was showing the Irish people that living under the British yoke wasn’t the only way it had to be.

In 1916 Britain was THE major power in the world and a military behemoth.

Today the UK in massively diminished on the world stage.

Brexit will almost certainly accelerate that process.

In the Six Counties “Loyalists” wait in line to get an application form for an Irish passport.

All is changed, changed utterly.

Moreover, these changes are irreversible.

All of this started in Easter Week 1916.

The two Donegal Gaeilgeoirí, who were singing the Foggy Dew downstairs here yesterday, will draw on the rebel tradition they come from.

I’m hoping that the laughter of their children will be heard in an Ireland without borders or barriers to human progress.

That journey of hope started in Easter Week 1916.

Discover Phil’s dramatic play Rebellion