Last Orders is a radio play, written in 2016 by two young men from Hydebank Wood College, Belfast. It was part of a research project at Queen’s University called Medal In The Drawer, in which various community groups were invited to respond to the events of 1914-18, through the medium of Drama. The project was coordinated by the Creative Learning Department at the Lyric Theatre, Belfast. [Duration 28 mins]
In 1914, Ireland was ruled from London. Three-quarters of the population of Ireland were nationalists who wanted some form of independence for Ireland. The majority supported John Redmond’s Home Rule Party. They were eagerly awaiting the introduction of Home Rule which would have created an Irish Parliament in Dublin with limited independence inside the United Kingdom. However, a small minority of Irish people supported the Irish Republican Brotherhood which believed in violence to achieve a Republic completely independent from the United Kingdom. The outbreak of World War One had a profound effect on both groups. Although Home Rule was now suspended until the end of the war, many of Redmond’s supporters enlisted in the British Army, in part believing that their loyalty would ensure Home Rule’s eventual introduction. For IRB men such as Patrick Pearse and James Connolly, the war seemed the perfect opportunity to rebel whilst Britain was preoccupied elsewhere. At Easter 1916 they staged a Rising in Dublin. The events in ‘Last Orders’, viewed largely through its two main protagonists, are primarily focused on the causes, course and immediate consequences of 1916: the differing responses to World War One, the fighting inside the General Post Office and the subsequent executions in Kilmainham Jail. There is also a secondary focus on the 50th anniversary commemorations of the Rising in 1966 during which Eamon De Valera, the Irish President and the only commandant from the Rising not to have been executed, returned to visit the scene of the executions.
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