Mike Hanrahan (pictured) and Brendan Begley are preparing to hit the road with a remarkable new show, entitled Dublin Burning.
The show tells the story of Ireland’s 1916 rising through songs, music, poetry and stories of the era spanning 1890 to 1916. The tour currently encompasses fourteen gigs, three of which take place in England, including a London show in the London Irish Centre, Camden on Friday 22 April. There are two Dublin dates, including the opening night at the Mill Theatre in Dundrum (Thursday, 24 March) and what is currently the final show, in the Seamus Ennis Centre in Naul (Friday, May 6). Brendan Begley (Accordion) and ex-Stockton’s Wing man Mike Hanrahan (guitar) share vocal duties.
"We find songs so familiar to generations of Irish people – and shine an extra light on their significance,” Mike Hanrahan says of the idea behind the show. "Songs such as ‘Oró Sé Do Bheatha Abhaile', 'The Tri Coloured Ribbon', 'A Nation Once Again', 'James Connolly' and 'A Soldiers Song’, which would eventually be translated into Irish and become our National Anthem.”
The show also includes original compositions, like the eponymous ‘Dublin Burning’, ‘March To Freedom’ and ’The Frenzy Polka’, which were written specially for the presentation. While any event which deals with the Rising may court controversy, it is the experience of the people that is most important to Hanrahan and Begley.
"We are not historians,” Hanrahan adds. “We are two writers, musicians and singers who happened to read a small library concerning a group of extraordinary people – men and women who lived in Ireland around a hundred years ago, many of whom were writers, musicians, singers, dancers, artists, poets, painters, sculptors and dreamers.”
Hanrahan and Begley are passionate about the legacy of the men and women of 1916.
"Their Ireland was a country in a cultural revolution,” Hanrahan reflects, "celebrating the rebirth of its language, music, song, art, history and folklore, against a backdrop of British rule. They believed, along with many other Irish men and Irish women, irrespective of religion or class, that the natural progression of a cultural revolution could only lead to a free and independent Republic of Ireland.
"In our reading we discovered songs, stories – and incredible characters, who took part in an armed revolution that would change Ireland for ever more. In a week, Dublin burned with desire, passion, anger, sadness and pride.”
The duo have put the show together as a way if inspiring others to reflect on what the events of 1916 mean.
"It was a momentous time in our history,” Hanrahan says, "and our hope is that the show Dublin Burning will draw people to the story, educate, entertain and start a ripple that will send them away seeking more information and understanding of a very poignant, powerful, sad, sometimes gruesome, heroic and extremely important period of our history. The people as a nation should embrace, with pride, the events of 1916.”
The full list of dates is as follows:
Thurs. 24, Mill Theatre, Dundrum, Dublin
Fri. 25, Cultúrlann Sweeney, Kilkee, Co. Clare
Sat. 26, Mermaid Arts Centre, Bray, Co. Wicklow
Fri. 1, Coastguard Cultural Centre, Tramore, Co. Waterford
Tues 5, Main Guard, Clonmel, Co. Tipperary
Thurs. 7, Newbridge Hall – details tbc
Sat. 9, Courthouse Arts Centre, Tinahely, Co Wicklow
Sun 10, Grainstore, Ballymaloe
Thurs. 21, St. John’s Theatre, Listowel, Co. Kerry
Fri. 22, London Irish Centre, Camden, London, England
Sat 23, Irish World Heritage Centre, Manchester, England
Sun. 24, Irish Centre, Huddersfield West Yorkshire, England
Sat. 30, Triskel Arts Centre, Cork
Fri. 6, Seamus Ennis Centre, Naul