The Abbey announce recipients of the Commemoration Bursaries

The Abbey Theatre announced the 14 recipients of the Commemoration Bursaries which are named in honour of those who lost their lives on Bloody Sunday in 1920. The bursary is awarded to artists to fund new work inspired by the events of the civil war period, according to the Abbey.
Image from Bärwinkel,Klaus, licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0

The Abbey Theatre announced the 14 recipients of the Commemoration Bursaries which are named in honour of those who lost their lives on Bloody Sunday in 1920.

The bursary is awarded to artists to fund new work inspired by the events of the civil war period, according to the Abbey.

Theatremaker Ray Scannell was inspired by the bursaries call for underrepresented stories from this period of Irish history. 

He was awarded the bursary named for Jane Boyle and with it, he will start to develop a piece about the Muriel MacSwiney and Máire MacSwiney, wife and daughter of hunger striker Terrence MacSwiney.

The story of Terrence MacSwiney was put in “heroic context” in the past but “what about the effect that it had on those two figures,” Scannell explained.

Scannell has a family connection to the story as his mother attended the school in Cork run by Terrence McSwiney’s sisters and his great grandfather taught in the Gaeltacht that Terrence MacSwiney attended. “It’s been hanging around as a story for a while and I thought with the bursary, the way that it was framed in terms of they were looking for figures who were kind of underrepresented from the time.”

Director and playwright, Conall Morrison received the bursary, named for James Burke, to develop his play about Partition and to tell the stories of those on both sides of the border. 

Morrison explained some of the inspiration behind his piece. 

“I grew up in Armagh not far from the border and my parents were from Derry and Donegal. So just as a Northerner, the border was always a very kind of live issue for me,” he said.

His project will ask questions about “the limits of the nation” and the “lines on the map” but also what that means for people on either side of the cultural and geographical divide, Morrison explained.

Applications for the bursaries opened last December and the 14 recipients will receive support to the value of €10,000 over a nine-month period

“The Commemoration Bursaries acknowledge the debt that we all owe to those voices in history who have been ignored or unheard,” said Co-Directors of the Abbey Theatre, Graham McLaren and Neil Murray.

“Given the public health events of the past year, these projects relating to the War of Independence and Civil War are now being developed in a changed world and will revisit the past but also speak to now,” they said.

Four other projects will also receive support from the bursary to the value of €4,000 and a further 10 will receive €1,000. 

“We remain committed to supporting artists as this ever-changing pandemic continues, and we look forward to seeing these 28 projects develop and take life in the future,” said McLaren and Murray.

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