Written & Performed by Donal O Kelly
The Premier of Donal O Kelly’s play about the life and times of Francis Sheehy Skeffington.
Francis Sheehy-Skeffington, whom Joyce dubbed “Hairy Jaysus”, after he was released in June 1915 from Mountjoy Jail where he had been held under the Defence of the Realm Act for making anti-recruitment speeches. He was held in a cell with Seán Mac Diarmada, Mac Diarmada for making a seditious speech, Sheehy-Skeffington for making FORTY! He convinced MacDiarmada to go on hunger-and-thirst strike with him, as his wife Hanna had used the tactic during her incarceration for her Votes For Women direct actions. After seven days, they were released. His son Owen remembered him being slowly helped up the garden path on his return home.
Donal O’Kelly is a writer and actor. His much-travelled solo plays include the award-winning Catalpa (Edinburgh Fringe First, London Time Out Critics’ Choice, Best Event Melbourne International Festival), Bat The Father Rabbit The Son (Best Writer and Best Actor nominations Irish Theatre Awards), and Jimmy Joyced! (Best Actor nomination Irish Theatre Awards)
His play The Cambria, about Frederick Douglass’ voyage to Ireland in 1845, performed with Sorcha Fox, toured Ireland, as well as playing the UK and Los Angeles. Vive La, a 1798 spy story mummer play, toured Ireland in 2007, and was revived in the Project in 2008. Running Beast, his music-theatre piece with music by Michael Holohan, has toured Europe since its premiere in September 2007.
Other plays include The Dogs (Rough Magic), Hughie On The Wires, Trickledown Town, The Business Of Blood, Farawayan, (all Calypso) Asylum! Asylum!(Peacock, Traverse Edinburgh, Ottawa and Boston), Mamie Sighs, Judas Of The Gallarus (Peacock) and The Hand (Dublin Theatre Festival).
He has twice been awarded an Irish Arts Council literature bursary, and in 1999 was awarded the Irish American Cultural Institute Butler Literary Award. He set up Donal O’Kelly Productions in 2000, and has toured extensively at home and abroad since then.
As an actor, his film roles include leading roles in Roddy Doyle’s The Van and in the acclaimed bilingual film Kings, Brainer in Spin The Bottle and Funny Face in I Went Down.
On stage, he has played the Lincoln Centre New York with Beckett’s Act Without Words I, Toronto Winter Garden as Lucky in Waiting For Godot, Joxer in the Abbey Theatre’s Juno And The Paycock, Sean O’Casey in Colm Toibin’s Beauty In A Broken Place at the Peacock, and he has toured to the UK, Europe, the US, Canada and Australia with his Donal O’Kelly Productions plays.
He was a founder and for ten years until 2003 a director of Calypso Productions, and he is an associate director of the peace and justice organisation Afri. In 2007 he was elected to Aosdana.