On Friday 20th January ‘The Trial of P.H. Pearse’ play will be staged at HOLYWELL –
DiverseCity Community Partnership in Bishop Street at 7.00pm (tickets cost £5).
The people of Derry hope to succeed where Winnipeg, Montréal, Ottawa, Dublin, Belfast,
Newry and many other communities failed. In each of these locations, the Trial of Pádraig
Pearse was condemned as having rigged juries, with either prosecution or defence calling
Holywell Trust, in association with Newpoint Players and The Thomas D’Arcy McGee
Summer School, is staging a rehearsed reading ofAnthony Russell’s new play The Trial of
Pádraig Pearse. It examines the case for and against Pearse proceeding with the Easter
In this ‘Court Of History’ Pearse is defended by John Mitchell (1815 – 1875), a physical
force republican and former Young Ireland comrade of Thomas D’Arcy McGee. The
prosecution is presented by D’Arcy McGee, the Irish rebel, Canadian patriot and Founding
Father of Canadian Confederation, who will suggest the 1916 Rising was undemocratic and
unnecessary. The tension between the acerbic prosecutor and the loquacious defender
makes for riveting drama, interspersed by comic and ironic relief.
Pádraig Pearse was found innocent of charges of treason against the Irish people at a
special sitting of the Carlingford Assizes in Carlingford at the Thomas D’Arcy McGee
Summer School in Carlingford, Co Louth in August. The majority innocent verdict of 33 to 28
(the narrow margin raising eyebrows in some quarters) found defence lawyer John Mitchel’s
persuasive arguments to outweigh those of prosecutor Thomas D’Arcy McGee.
D’Arcy McGee is adamant that the jury was rigged and has lodged an appeal with the
Supreme Court of History for a retrial. The good people of Derry have offered to stage the
Trial there on 20th January. Other communities in Winnipeg, Montréal, Ottawa, Newry,
Armagh, Omeath, Ballymacnab, Belfast and Dublin have previously enlisted a balanced
jury for a retrial but McGee keeps finding grounds for appeal.
A superbly engaging dimension to the play sees the audience debate the issues in the play
as jurors in the jury room. This facilitates a participative role for the audience enabling them
to deliberate on the issues as presented by prosecution and defence, as well as voting on
the final outcome.
The musical dimension to the theme, based around the motif of Óro Se do Bheatha
Bhaile (verses of which Pearse wrote, and which he reputedly whistled on his way to the
stonebreakers’ yard) will be provided by Gerry O’Connor, fiddle player with the Irish Rovers.
The play is part of the Trust’s community relations programme that is supported through
the Central Good Relations Fund of The Executive Office.
Tickets are still available so call into HOLYWELL – DiverseCity Community Partnership in
Bishop Street or call to book on (028) 7126 1941 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
For more information on this and other events organised by Holywell Trust please visit