Bloody Irish on PBS

The cast of the Bloody Irish. Photo: WDSE

An uplifting and original musical stage show depicting the armed rebellion, the 1916 Easter Rising, will air on PBS on October 17.

The Bloody Irish, recently recorded live in the Helix theater, Dublin, is a remarkable performance that is sure to move its audience but will also raise questions about the events of the Rising.

The stage show combines rousing Irish ballads of that time, such as “Rocky Road to Dublin” and “It’s a Long Way to Tipperary,” with the poignant human story of bravery, doubt and loss on the ground. Barry Devlin’s play steers away from the “standard reiteration” of this often discussed part of Irish history. What he hoped to achieve was something strikingly different and this musical show is certainly that.

The play opens with a little girl hauntingly singing in the foreground as seven Irish rebel leaders are shot dead while standing on a Union Jack. The audience is then introduced to the narrator of the play, Sir John Grenfell Maxwell, the man tasked with quelling the rebellion and pacifying Ireland. Oft painted as an ogre, Maxwell is masterfully portrayed by Malcolm Sinclair.

Devlin told Irish America “Maxwell obviously states it straight down the line as he saw it, as the Empire saw it and he only gradually comes to terms with something that he already knows: that the rebels were always going to lose and that failure was going to win it for them. They became martyrs. Bloody Irish depicts the fear felt by the rebels themselves, showing them as mortals with doubts about their undertaking. It also shows what the Irish at the time would have felt about the Rising.

“What I tried to analyze was the way 1916 has been baked and sermonized into this perfect thing,” Devlin said. “And yet at the time it was fluid, it was a close up thing that could easily have gone either way in terms of how the public viewed it. They were seen to have brought down the wrath of hell on them. People weren’t sure for what.”

The show’s 23-strong cast includes Lorcan Cranitch as James Connolly, Gavin O’Connor as Patrick Pearse, as well as Lisa Lambe and Fiachna O’Braonain, among the lead vocals. Bloody Irish is set to air on PBS on October 17, 2015, and again during the station’s December pledge drive. In February, the musical will be launched in cinemas across America and it’s hoped that by April 2016, at the time of the 1916 centenary, the actual stage show of Bloody Irish could be touring the United States. ♦

28 Responses to “Bloody Irish on PBS”

  1. Christopher Sterling says:

    I looked at the Pbs schedule in Florida (WUFL & WUCF) but could not find either station airing this program on 10/17. Is there one in central Florida?

  2. Ashley says:

    WUFT | Saturday, Oct. 17 at 08:00 pm

  3. Bill Collins says:

    When is Bloody Irish to be shown on pbs in Boston? Can’t find it on WGBH schedule?

  4. Brian carnduff says:

    I get one from Spokane and Boston. I don’t see it on Saturday Oct 17. Any idea when it will be shown on those channels?

  5. Mary Jo Kittle says:

    How do we find what PBS stations are going to air this?

  6. Joanne says:

    I cannot find it on my PBS channel in Seattle. Does anyone know if it is being shown here and when?

  7. Lisa says:

    I’m in Orlando and it’s not scheduled here either

    • Eric Sterling says:

      It is being televised by Tampa WEDU. Maybe you can get it there. The list of PBS stations televising this is on Facebook.

  8. Dianne Kelly says:

    When will this be in St. Louis? It is not scheduled here.

  9. Mary Lovell says:

    Will this be performed in Indianapolis, Indiana?

  10. Sharon says:

    When and where will we be able to buy tickets to the US tour of the theater production ? Can’t wait to see it live on the stage!

  11. Sheila says:

    It’s playing now on PBS (WEAO) north of Pittsburgh

  12. Della Curran says:

    My Irish American husband of 40 years and I watched this exciting musical tribute to the 100th anniversary of the Easter Rebellion last night, Inspiring, Awesome, and Heartfelt are the adjectives that come to mind. I’m trying to find the dvd and cd. We’re already contributors so how can I get a copy of both?

  13. Gerard O'Loughlin says:

    Just watched the Bloody Irish, fantastic all round, breathtaking !

    • Siobhan says:

      Gerard how can I watch it? I live in Ireland. Thanks

      • Mary Jo KIttle says:

        There is a DVD available of Bloody Irish. The PBS stations in USA were promoting the DVD in their fundraising drive. I spent half the show yelling “Bloody Damned British” at my television! Bloody Irish is a compilation of mainly familiar Irish songs, woven into the Easter Rising of 1916.

        • Siobhán says:

          Thanks Gerard. Any chance you could send me a link to purchase the DVD. Impossible to find this side of the Atlantic
          Thanks again

  14. Jim Coyl;e says:

    Just watched ‘The Bloody Irish’ on PBS
    A great show

  15. George says:

    Does anyone know if they are still going to re air it this month? I didn’t get to watch it when it original aired and I’m hoping to catch it.

  16. George says:

    Can anyone tell me if/when they are planning on re airing it this month? I did get to watch it when it originally aired and I at least want to record it this next time around.

  17. Ruth says:

    Will this ever air on PBS again?

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