1916 centenary spawns a slew of TV and film dramas

Next year’s centenary of the 1916 Rising promises to spawn a number of cultural projects, amongst which is a new RTÉ drama series, Rebellion.

Scheduled to be filmed in Dublin over the coming months, the five-part series will “chart the violent birth of modern Ireland” and stars Irish actors Charlie Murphy, Brian Gleeson, and Sarah Greene. The action begins with the advent of the First World Ward, and culminates in the Easter Rising and subsequent seven-year struggle for independence.

“Quality Irish drama is the cornerstone of RTÉ television and is something the Irish public has come to expect from us,” says Glen Killane, managing director of RTÉ Television.

“Rebellion will form an important part of what is a significant investment by RTÉ in engaging the Irish public around 1916 and television drama achieves this engage ent like no other medium.”

The serial begins in 1914, as Europe is at war and Britain is preoccupied with the German threat. According to Jane Gogan, RTÉ head of drama: “Rebellion will tell personal stories which are intertwined with the political events of the time. However, it is a drama, not a history lesson, and our story is told from the perspectives of a group of fictional characters who live through the political events of 1916. Men, women and children from Belfast, Dublin, and London — people whose lives were irrevocably changed by this extraordinary period.”

Michael Neeson, son of actor Liam Neeson, has been cast as Michael Collins in another 1916 drama, The Rising.

The film will be directed by Kevin McCann, with funding from the Irish Film Board and Northern Ireland Screen.

Liam Neeson as ’The Big Fellow’ in Neil Jordan’s1996 movie ’Michael Collins’
Liam Neeson as ’The Big Fellow’ in Neil Jordan’s 1996 movie ’Michael Collins’

Another RTÉ One project is Generation, a five-part series focused on the three weeks around the rising, but which will also put the events in Ireland into a global context.

A TG4 project will deliver a Súil Eile aspect of 1916, with Wrecking the Rising following three accidental time travellers whose presence in Dublin threatens to change the course of history.

On TV3, Trial of the Century will explore what would have happened if the leaders of the rising had actually been put on trial.

Filming has also recently commenced in Galway on TG4’s new teen musical drama, Eipic. The series follows the fortunes of five rural teenagers who take over their local abandoned post office to start a musical revolution in 2016.

The story is set against the backdrop of the 1916 centenary celebrations.

A number of other Irish films are also due for release over the coming months. These include:

  • Sing Street: Set in 1980s Dublin where the recession forces 14-year-old Cosmo out of his comfortable private school and into survival mode at the inner-city public school where the kids are rough and the teachers are rougher. Written and directed by John Carney, it stars Ferdia Walsh Peelo, Jack Reynor, Maria Doyle Kennedy, and Aidan Gillen.

  • My Name Is Emily: Emily runs away from her foster home on her 16th birthday, and with her school friend Arden, they set off in an old Renault 4 to rescue Emily’s father, a visionary writer, locked up in a far-off psychiatric institution. Stars Evanna Lynch, George Webster and Michael Smiley.

  • Pursuit: A road movie and thriller, inspired by Irish folk legend. Paul Mercier directs Ruth Bradley, Liam Cunningham, Brendan Gleeson, Owen Roe, and Don Wycherley.

  • You’re Ugly Too: Will is a grumpy sardonic loner who has just been released from prison on compassionate leave to care for his 11-year-old niece, Stacey. It stars Aidan Gillen and Lauren Kinsella.

  • The Secret Scripture: Adapted from Sebastian Barry’s 2008 novel, the film is directed by Jim Sheridan and stars Rooney Mara, Vanessa Redgrave, and homegrown stars Jack Reynor, Tom Vaughan Lawlor, and Aidan Turner. It tells the story of a 100-year-old women who recounts the diary of her extended stay at a mental hospital.


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