Drama of 1916 Rising as seen by the nurse who carried the white flag
By Mary Dennehy
A DRAMATIC re-enactment of the ‘surrender, the court martial and the execution’ of the leaders of the 1916 Rising, told through the eyes of Nurse Elizabeth O’Farrell, is showing in Tallaght this Easter weekend.
Commissioned by the Tallaght Historical Society, the 1916 centenary project, which was partly funded by South Dublin County Council, will be shown in the Rua Red county arts centre in Tallaght on Holy Thursday, Good Friday and Easter Saturday.
A member of Cumann na mBan, Nurse O’Farrell was chosen to carry the white flag to Brigadier General William Lowe, seeking the opening of negotiations at the end of Easter week.
In the original photograph, Nurse O’Farrell’s feet are all that could be seen as she stood beside Pearse however, in versions of the picture since, Nurse O’Farrell has been totally airbrushed out.
Born in Dublin, Nurse O’Farrell was a midwife at the National Maternity Hospital, Holles Street, who stayed in the GPO throughout the Rising, caring for the wounded, and was one of three women left when the GPO was evacuated.
She also played a key role after the Rising, delivering messages to Irish Volunteer leaders while continuing to be active in Cumann na mBan – before passing away in 1957.
Nurse O’Farrell’s writings have now been used to tell the story of the ‘surrender, court martial and execution’ of the leaders of the 1916 Rising in a re-enactment called Under Fire, Recollections of the 1916 Rebellion.
Written by historical lecturer Sean O’Gorman and directed by Kevin O’Malley, Under Fire will be performed by the Centenary Players – who will be dressed in period costumes researched and sourced by the Tallaght Historical Society.
Anne Hanrahan, Tallaght Historical Society Chairperson, told The Echo: “Nurse O’Farrell was kind of forgotten over time and this re-enactment gives her a voice, while also remembering all of the other forgotten people who were part of 1916.
“There is also a strong focus on women in the 1916 centenary and this re-enactment tells the story of the surrender, court martial and executions through the eyes of a woman.”
To ensure the re-enactment is as accurate as possible, a lot of time was spent by the historical society researching and sourcing clothes.
“We spent a lot of time putting together what men and women wore at this time, both those in uniforms and members of the public”, Anne said.
“We heard about a man who has a stall in the Belgard market who sells a lot of military clothes and we got a lot of uniforms and other pieces off him.
“We also trawled through second-hand shops to find items that were as near a replica to what people wore in 1916.
“We’re hoping that people come and see the re-enactment in their community over the Easter weekend.
“We thought that as the Tallaght Historical Society that it was important that we marked the centenary locally, providing people with a way of marking it in their local community.”
Under Fire will run in Rua Red, beside The Square Luas stop, on Thursday, March 24, at 3pm and 7pm; Good Friday, March 25 at 3pm and 7pm; and Saturday, March 26, at 3pm.
Tickets to the event, which is not suitable for children under eight, cost €10 and are available from Rua Red or by contacting Anne Hanrahan on 087 6315773.
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