Report: “Shakespeare and Irish Radicalism” at the Pearse Museum

Report by Emily O’Brien


The Pearse Museum provided atmospheric surroundings last night for the first of the UCD/Abbey Theatre Shakespeare lectures, in an evening that productively blended academic and theatrical approaches to the relationship between Shakespeare and Ireland in the context of this year of commemorations.

Professor Andy Murphy (St Andrews) began the evening with a lecture entitled “Shakespeare and Irish Radicalism: The Road to 1916”, which was both pioneering in content and elegant in form. Revealing to the audience the unexpectedly rich culture of Shakespeare in repeated Irish nationalist movements, as well as in those aligned with British imperialism, he demonstrated that Shakespeare in 1916 Ireland should be understood as a common cultural space where opposing political traditions could come together. This fascinating talk began and closed with contrasting lectures delivered on the same night in Dublin in 1917 by D. H. Madden and W. F. Trench, and took in Irish revolutionary journals, the collections of the Pearse family, and an intriguing volume of Shakespeare bearing a succession of revealing inscriptions.

It was a joy to have this erudite and scholarly lecture further illuminated by Owen Roe’s thrilling dramatic reading of several speeches from Shakespeare that had been discussed in Prof. Murphy’s lecture. These readings featured alongside his own insightful commentary on Ireland’s relationship to Shakespeare, from the perspective of an actor. As a perfect capstone to the evening, Roe ended by running a reading of an extract from Synge’s Playboy of the Western World into one from The Taming of the Shrew, dissolving any notion of a natural barrier.

Dr Jane Grogan (UCD), responsible for organizing this lecture series, is to be commended for her foresight in putting together such a richly rewarding and successful event. Check back for news and reports of the coming lectures.

Pearse and Shakespeare Exhibition at the Pearse Museum

Brian Crowley, curator of the Pearse Museum, was a gracious and enthusiastic host. The museum is currently displaying an exhibition on Pearse and Shakespeare. It runs until the end of August.


[Image from Pearse Museum Facebook page]

This is part of the ‘Shakespeare Lives Across the Island’ programme, which can be downloaded here. More #Shakespeare400 and British Council #ShakespeareLives events can be found on the blog using the tag #ShaxIRL400. Follow us on Twitter at @ShakesinIreland.


2 thoughts on “Report: “Shakespeare and Irish Radicalism” at the Pearse Museum

  1. Pingback: Review essay: Othello at the Abbey and Shakespeare in Ireland | Shakespeare in Ireland

  2. Pingback: Review: “Measure for Measure – Ireland 1916” at Dublin Castle | Shakespeare in Ireland

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