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A Day and A Night

Padraig Pearse

© ERIC FERGUSON
5348 48th Av. S.
Minneapolis, MN 55417
phone: (612)726-6364
eric@celticfringe.net
http://www.celticfringe.net



CHARACTERS:
Padraig Pearse
Major De Courcy Wheeler, British officer
Margaret Pearse, Pearse's mother
Willie Pearse, Pearse's brother
Eoin MacNeill, official of the Gaelic League
James Connolly, socialist leader
Richard Mulcahy, soldier
Prosecutor (offstage)
Looter
Firing Squad Commander (offstage)
Soldiers (portrayed by the other actors)
voice of Aunt Margaret, Pearse's great-aunt

TIME: Scenes in the prison take place just after the Easter Rebellion, April 1916. Other scenes start with PEARSE's childhood (mid 1880's) through the rebellion.

Pronunciation and translation guide

An Claidheamh Soluis
: an clay-ah solus: the sword of light
arís le d'thoil: ur-reesh led hell: again please
beannacht de agat: ban-uckt jay agat: God be with you
Cuailgne
: cooley: mythical battle
Cumann na mBan: cooman na bahn: women's auxiliary
Cuchulain: coo-cullen: the hound of Cullen
Conchubar: connor: king of Ulster
dia duit: jee-ah gwitch: hello
Emain Macha: avin maka: Conchubar's capital
Eoin: owen: Gaelic spelling of Owen
Erin go braith: erin gu brah: Ireland forever
fáilte: fawl-che: welcome
Fenians
: feen-ee-ans: 19th century rebel group
Finn Mac Cumhaill: finn mock cool: Finn, son of Cumhaill
go maith: gu mah: good
Is cuma a mhairimse ach ló 'gus oíche, ach clú 'gus cáil ar m'éachtaí.: Iss kuma a warimshay ak low gus oche, ak cloo gus keel ar myaktee: I care not if I live but a day and a night, if my fame and my deeds live behind me.
Maeve: mayv: Cuchulain's enemy
Padraig
: pawd-rig: Gaelic spelling of Patrick
Poblacht na h-Eireann
: publa na herin: people of Ireland
Slán agat
: slawn ug-ut: goodbye (by the one leaving)
Slán abhaile
: slawn a-wal-yah: safe home
Sinn Féin
: shin fain: ourselves alone
author's note: pronunciations vary from dialect to dialect, and producers must be willing to alter these if they find more expert pronunciations

ACT I

(In the pre-show blackout, we hear an old woman [Aunt Margaret] singing "The Bold Fenian Men". The song fades out as the lights come up, and we hear the jangling of keys, footsteps on a stone floor, and doors opening and clanging shut. The lights reveal PEARSE in his cell in Arbour Hill Prison a few hours after surrendering. He has a table, a stool, and a cot. He is sitting at the table. He is dressed in his Irish Volunteers uniform. WHEELER brings in MULCAHY at gunpoint.)

WHEELER

(to MULCAHY) Mind you watch yourself.

MULCAHY

(His tone is nervous but informal.) General, I'm Richard Mulcahy. I've been commanding the north County Dublin...

(Pearse clears his throat and nods toward WHEELER to remind MULCAHY to comport himself in a military fashion. MULCAHY takes the hint. He snaps to attention and gives a proper salute.)

MULCAHY

General Pearse, I am Richard Mulcahy, commander of the north County Dublin Battalion and the Wexfordmen. I received this order to surrender. Is this yours, sir?

(He hands the order to PEARSE, who looks at it.)

PEARSE

Yes, I issued this.

(He hands it back.)

MULCAHY

It's been a hard week sir.

PEARSE

Indeed it has. Please give your men my compliments on the courage they've shown.

MULCAHY

Sir, we can hold out longer. Would...(he is struggling to keep his composure) would it be of use for us to do so?

PEARSE

No.

MULCAHY

Yes sir. Thank you sir. Beannacht...(he is choking as he struggles to speak the Gaelic phrase).

PEARSE

Beannacht de agat.

MULCAHY

Beannacht de agat.

(MULCAHY salutes. PEARSE stands and returns it. MULCAHY turns and leaves, escorted by WHEELER.)

PEARSE

Beannacht de agat.

(Light come up revealing MARGARET, who is doing her mending.)

MARGARET

What's that mean, Paddy?

PEARSE

It means "God bless you."

(PEARSE goes over to MARGARET. They are in the Pearse family home. Pearse is about seven years old.)

MARGARET

Did you learn that in school today?

PEARSE

I did so Mum.

MARGARET

Now hold still so I can get this button sewn on your cuff.

(She takes his shirt cuff and sews a button.)

PEARSE

Can you say that Mum?

MARGARET

No Paddy, they didn't teach Irish when I was in school.

PEARSE

Did they tell you about Cuchulain back then?

MARGARET

Oh no, they didn't teach that stuff back then.

PEARSE

Auntie Margaret was telling me about Cuchulain before I went off to school this morning.

MARGARET

Isn't she one for all those old songs and stories. So what did she tell you?

PEARSE

She told me how he left home when he was five.

MARGARET

Oh my, even younger than you are.

PEARSE

His mother didn't want him to go.

MARGARET

I should think not.

PEARSE

But he wanted to go to Emain Macha to join the boy corps, even though he was younger than them. She let him go, and he took his toy shield and his hurling stick and ball. He got there by hitting the ball with his stick, and then running to catch up to the ball before it landed. When he got there, he tried to join them in the hurling, but they hit their balls at him, and there were three fifties of them, but he deflected every ball. And then he hit the balls back at them and hit every boy. They tried to grab him, but he bashed every boy to smithereens. Then King Conchubar came and stopped them, and asked the boys why they attacked the stranger, and they said because he didn't ask for their protection. He made them give it, but Cuchulain started beating them again. Conchubar asked him why he did this, and he said, "Because they didn't ask for MY protection".

(Lights rise on WHEELER and fall on MARGARET.)

WHEELER

Here's the paper you asked for Pearse. And a pen.

PEARSE

I'll probably need some spare ink as well.

WHEELER

Anything else you want Your Majesty?

PEARSE

"Mr. President" will do quite nicely. Ireland is a republic now.

WHEELER

God damn your republic Pearse, you're a bloody rebel is what you are.

PEARSE

There's no need for that sort of language.

WHEELER

(WHEELER gets right in PEARSE's face.) Oh, did I offend the good Catholic boy's virgin ears? Jesus Mary and Joseph, what the bloody hell was I thinking.

PEARSE

Show some respect to a fellow officer.

WHEELER

You're not my fellow officer. You are a traitor to king and country.

PEARSE

I'm an enemy officer and a prisoner of war.

WHEELER

You stabbed your country in the back is what you did Pearse.

PEARSE

It's neither my king nor my country. We no longer have a king.

(WHEELER points his pistol at PEARSE.)

WHEELER

Tell me why I shouldn't shoot you right now, Pearse.

PEARSE

Perhaps because I'm not a civilian caught in the middle.

WHEELER

My brother was killed in France last year. Is this how you repay him?

PEARSE

He wasn't fighting for me.

(Neither man is sure if WHEELER will shoot. WHEELER thinks better of it.)

WHEELER

Your court-martial is tomorrow.

(He quickly exits before PEARSE can respond.)

PEARSE

Where's my brother? (WHEELER is already gone. PEARSE shouts after him.) Where's my brother?

(Lights rise on MARGARET.)

MARGARET

Willie should be home any time now. How was school today?

PEARSE

Fine Mum. I did well on my Irish exam today.

MARGARET

That's wonderful Paddy. Sure you have a gift for it.

PEARSE

Did you never want to learn it yourself Mum?

MARGARET

I've got all I can do with English, Paddy.

PEARSE

It's easy if you just start with some phrases. Like "dia duit" means "hello". Just try it. Dia duit.

MARGARET

Really Paddy...

PEARSE

Please, just try it once. Dia duit.

MARGARET

Dia...

PEARSE

Dia duit.

MARGARET

Dia duit.

PEARSE

Go maith. That means "good".

MARGARET

Go maith.

PEARSE

Arís le d'thoil. That means "again please".

MARGARET

Go maith.

PEARSE

And you know "Erin go braith".

MARGARET

Erin go braith. Ireland forever.

PEARSE

Go maith.

MARGARET

Did you know your great-grandfather spoke Gaelic?

PEARSE

No.

MARGARET

He came to Dublin during the famine, and he not speaking a word of English.

PEARSE

Then why did he come here?

MARGARET

Sure he'd have died where he was, or took his chances on a coffin-ship to America. Perhaps it was emigration he was after when he came here.

(WILLIE enters)

WILLIE

Paddy, come on. We're getting up a game of football down the street.

PEARSE

Coming!

(Lights fall on MARGARET and rise on EOIN MACNEILL. The scene is a lecture hall at The Gaelic League. PEARSE has just finished delivering a lecture.)

MACNEILL

(applauding) Well done lad, well done.

PEARSE

Thank you sir.

MACNEILL

No truly, that was one of the best recountings of the of the literature on Brian Boru that I've heard. Quite well researched.

PEARSE

That's very kind of you Mr. MacNeill.

MACNEILL

Please, call me Eoin. How old are you young Patrick?

PEARSE

17 sir. And I've taken to calling myself by "Padraig".

MACNEILL

Have you now? Very good. I use the Gaelic spelling of my name also. Have you thought of joining the Gaelic League, Padraig?

PEARSE

I'm already a member sir, uh, Eoin.

MACNEILL

And one of our youngest I'd dare say.

(He shakes PEARSE's hand and prepares to leave.)

MACNEILL

Well, I expect we'll be seeing more of you then.

PEARSE

Eoin...

MACNEILL

Yes?

PEARSE

I'd like to be more active.

MACNEILL

That's good. How so?

PEARSE

I fancy myself a bit of a writer, and I think I'd be of use on the publications committee.

MACNEILL

Hmm. Well, let me have talk to them, but I can't think they'd say no. Some youthful enthusiasm could do some good. Suppose I show you where the actual work goes on? You might find that interesting.

PEARSE

I would so.

(MACNEILL exits. PEARSE starts to exit but stops when WHEELER enters.)

WHEELER

What's that you've written?

(WHEELER starts looking at the papers on the table in the cell. Pearse snatches them away.)

PEARSE

I'm putting my affairs in order.

(WHEELER snatches the papers back.)

WHEELER

You can't send out just anything you want.

PEARSE

Surely there's no objection to a last letter to my family.

WHEELER

There is if they can use it to start another uprising. What's this?

PEARSE

A poem.

WHEELER

So you were a poet?

PEARSE

I am....I was. Has there been any news of my brother? I would like send home some good news.

(WHEELER puts the papers down.)

WHEELER

I haven't heard.

PEARSE

Could you ask?

WHEELER

I'm not your private secretary.

(WHEELER exits as lights rise on MACNEILL. PEARSE is interviewing for the position of editor.)

PEARSE

There's no harm in asking you Eoin, but the rest of the committee might take it as a sign I lack the self-confidence, which is why I wanted to ask you privately. Will they be willing to entrust their newspaper to a 21-year old?

MACNEILL

I can't help having reservations about your age. But in every other way you're the best candidate I think.

PEARSE

Sure I've proven myself on the publications committee.

MACNEILL

You have indeed. You've very much grown as a writer.

PEARSE

I'm grateful to you for much of that Eoin.

MACNEILL

And I can't tell you how pleased I've been to have someone of your potential under my wing. What's more of a problem is the other candidate is a native Irish speaker, though your Irish is excellent and I have no reservations at all. Just be mindful that it's more than putting out another edition each week. There have been financial problems that could prove quite thorny.

PEARSE

Exactly. Sales are bad because it's dull. People have to have a reason to read it. I intend to make An Claidheamh Soluis the primary Irish-language newspaper in the country.

MACNEILL

That's a fine ambition.

PEARSE

It can be done. I'm convinced the League has to make An Claidheamh Soluis our main publication. I needs to be bigger, and the Gaelic section needs to have all the news, plus I want to publish poems and short stories as well.

MACNEILL

There's something in that.

PEARSE

There's everything in that. We need to give the Irish people a literature in their own language, and I mean a modern literature like the rest of Europe has, not just a few medieval scraps. I honestly believe this might be what preserves the language, and if we do that we save the Irish soul.

MACNEILL

That's good Padraig, but save some for the paper itself.

PEARSE

Then I've got the job?

MACNEILL

If it was up to me, but it's not my decision alone. Though I like your odds.

(Lights fall on MACNEILL and rise on WILLIE and MARGARET, who is working at her mending as PEARSE sits down with his newspaper.)

MARGARET

But will your salary be enough to support all of us? Especially with Willie in school.

PEARSE

It doesn't have to be Mother. The shop will keep bringing us an income.

MARGARET

But who will run it now your father's gone?

PEARSE

I'm sure the men know what they're doing.

MARGARET

The men just know their trade Paddy. Your Da was the one who ran the business.

PEARSE

I certainly can't run it.

MARGARET

Willie can't run it yet.

PEARSE

Of course not Mum.

WILLIE

And what about my schooling?

PEARSE

I've no intention of asking you to leave school. But you're the artist in the family, not me. I never took to stonecarving.

MARGARET

The men can carve the stone. You need to attend to the business side of things.

PEARSE

Me? I have no head for business.

MARGARET

You're the eldest son. Sure you don't think our means of support is less important than your newspaper.

PEARSE

This newspaper is my life. And I'd have you know I'm not completely inconsiderate of money. I have to have it if I'm to send Willie off to Europe to study sculpture.

WILLIE

Europe?

PEARSE

I want you to be a sculptor, not just a tradesman.

MARGARET

But your editor's salary isn't going to do that and support yourself and me and your sisters.

PEARSE

But that won't be all we've got.

WILLIE

But how much do we actually have?

MARGARET

And how will the shop be run, and you spending all your time on your paper and giving lectures so many nights.

PEARSE

Those lectures give visibility to the League. And I'm not going to neglect the business. I'll look in on it, but it's not what I'm made for.

MARGARET

You're delivering a lecture tonight I suppose.

PEARSE

I am that. I'm due at the hall at eight.

MARGARET

(She glances at a clock.) 'Tis eight now Paddy.

PEARSE

What?! Oh no, they'll be waiting for me!

(PEARSE throws down his paper and dashes out the door. MARGARET shakes her head in bemusement and picks it up. The lights fade on her and rise on MACNEILL as PEARSE enters.)

MACNEILL

You're all worked up about this Padraig.

PEARSE

And haven't I the right to be? I'm being blamed for problems that aren't all my doing.

MACNEILL

You knew the finances were rough when you took over.

PEARSE

I'm the editor, not the manager. Where's Sean O'Kelly while all this is happening? He's become more active with Sinn Fein than the newspaper he's supposed to be managing.

MACNEILL

Yes, he's been a bit negligent of his duties. Sinn Fein is a bit radical for my tastes, but I think most would consider his activities worthwhile...

PEARSE

I do too Eoin, but first things first.

MACNEILL

I'll have a chat with him Padraig, but it's not him that's made the paper so much larger. You need to pare it down to save printing costs.

PEARSE

We need to sell more copies! Why aren't League members giving it more backing? This is the heart and soul of our cause.

MACNEILL

The League is more than An Claidheamh Soluis, no matter how much work you've put into it. We still have our pamphlets and classes.

PEARSE

All important. Remember that I was on the publications committee and had a hand in a lot of those pamphlets. But none of those reaches as many people as An Claidheamh Soluis.

MACNEILL

No one's had a bad word to say about your changes. Your layout is much better than the old one. But it costs more than we can afford.

PEARSE

How can we afford to not save Irish culture?

MACNEILL

I admire how you can throw yourself so completely into a project, but you're not the only one Padraig. There's many more working for the same goal. There's the National Theatre, the Gaelic Athletic Association...

PEARSE

So we'll save the culture with our hurling sticks? And what's Yeats and Synge and Lady Gregory think they're doing but building just another English theatre in Dublin?

MACNEILL

You're talking about our leading literary lights.

PEARSE

There's nothing Irish there but the place where they were born.

MACNEILL

Give credit where credit is due.

PEARSE

I do. I've defended the Fenians and Sinn Fein against unjust criticism. I've even said good things about the English government.

MACNEILL

That's another thing. I don't want to interfere in editorial content, but this isn't the place for praising our occupiers.

PEARSE

If they do something right, we ought to say so. Encourage them in the right direction perhaps. We have to seem reasonable if we're ever to have Home Rule.

MACNEILL

I thought you didn't care about politics.

PEARSE

It's not as important as the language.

MACNEILL

Language is political! Every time someone comes into one of our classes, every word we publish or speak in Gaelic, every time we choose one language or another, it's a political statement.

PEARSE

I'm not insensible to politics, but I also know that if we lose the language, we lose our soul, and our independence won't get it back for us.

MACNEILL

There may be a way to combine them in a way that might be useful.

PEARSE

How so?

MACNEILL

You can use that vaunted law degree of yours.

PEARSE

I don't have much good to say about the legal profession.

MACNEILL

You always sign your name with that "B.L." after it.

PEARSE

I did earn it after all.

MACNEILL

And now you can use it. The League has agreed to supply legal help to Mr. Neil MacBride. He faces a fine for placing his name on his pushcart in the form Niall Mac Giolla Brighde. There have been a couple other cart owners fined for having their names in Irish.

PEARSE

Then it's time for the Gael to march smartly into the English court and confront the foreign law.

MACNEILL

No, it's time to save a cart owner from being fined for something he did partly at our instigation, and the board feels some sense of responsibility so we're helping with the appeal.

PEARSE

Then perhaps someone else should do it. Besides, I've never argued a case in court. I hardly feel qualified.

MACNEILL

You'd be assisting, that's all. This practice of using Irish signs is spreading, and the chairman is adamant that we keep it quiet until it's too common to outlaw. There's disagreement to be sure, but Mr. Hyde has always had sound political judgment.

PEARSE

So I'm not the only one who wants to make a protest out of this.

MACNEILL

An interest in politics at last?

PEARSE

For the sake of the language.

MACNEILL

Be that as it may, you're not to make a protest out of this. You won't change the law against signs written in Gaelic. The only effect can be to cause trouble for a bunch of cart owners who only want to write their names in their own language and be left alone. Just get the fine set aside or reduced. Portray your client as a harmless, law-abiding man, and not as a symbol of the Irish nation.

PEARSE

You know me Eoin. Do you really think I can keep that quiet?

MACNEILL

I suppose it's a good thing then you're not expected to lead.

PEARSE

I see.

MACNEILL

You'll do fine Padraig. Maybe you'll even find you have a knack for it.

PEARSE

Naturally, I'll do anything the League asks of me. If you'll excuse me Eoin, I have to get the copy to the printers tomorrow morning.

(PEARSE goes back to his cell and starts working on the papers in front of him. WHEELER enters.)

WHEELER

What is it Pearse?

PEARSE

These letters need to go out.

WHEELER

Well, why don't I just pop these in the mail for you then? Oh that's right, somebody blew up the General Post Office. Of course, you were there, weren't you.

PEARSE

Surely any man has the right to say his good-byes and put his affairs in order.

WHEELER

General Lowe will decide what happens to your letters. He'll release them if he sees fit.

PEARSE

I see.

WHEELER

Don't be too optimistic. He doesn't understand why we haven't shot all you Sinn Feiners already.

PEARSE

We're not Sinn Fein.

WHEELER

You're all one lot as far as I'm concerned.

PEARSE

I am the President of the Republic of Ireland and Commander-in-Chief of the Army of the Republic of Ireland.

WHEELER

Which means what?

PEARSE

Which means I'm not a criminal.

WHEELER

It makes you worse to a lot of people mate.

PEARSE

And what do you see when you look at me?

WHEELER

What do you mean?

PEARSE

Just what I said. You have something in mind when you look at me. Do I remind you of your old schoolmaster perhaps? A bookish man who sat next to you on a tram? Just a stupid, violent mick? What?

WHEELER

I see a dangerous revolutionary.

PEARSE

I thank you for that. But can you see one man who has written out his last words? I ask that they be given to my family. Would any civilized army deny a condemned man his last words?

WHEELER

So what do you want me to do?

PEARSE

Ask if they can be delivered.

WHEELER

(Thinks a moment) Can't hurt to ask.

PEARSE

Thank you Major.

(WHEELER glances at a paper as he's leaving and stops.)

WHEELER

"B.L."? You were a lawyer?

PEARSE

Sort of. I argued just one case, and that only because the lead barrister didn't show up.

WHEELER

Did you win?

PEARSE

No. I argued justice instead of law. It's why you don't see Irish names on pushcarts. Rather a harsh experience.

WHEELER

Pushcarts a harsh experience? I'll never understand you Irish.

(Lights fall on the cell and rise on MACNEILL singing "Galway Races" to himself.)

MACNEILL

Come in Padraig, come in. So were you there yesterday?

PEARSE

At the races?

MACNEILL

Where else?

PEARSE

I was and I saw you at the betting window. I'd have said something if the crowd had let me get over to you before you disappeared. Do I get the impression you bet on a winner?

MACNEILL

Indeed you do. I bet on two winners.

PEARSE

Congratulations.

MACNEILL

And yourself?

PEARSE

I don't gamble.

MACNEILL

Oh. By the way, that was a lovely story in this week's issue.

PEARSE

Thank you.

MACNEILL

To be sure, it nearly broke my heart when the boy faced the soldiers to let his schoolmaster escape and they shot him for his trouble. It was really very moving.

PEARSE

That's kind of you Eoin.

MACNEILL

Not at all, you deserve it. I just don't know why you don't publish them under your own name. Don't you want the credit?

PEARSE

It's another byline. I suppose as an editor, I don't want to appear to be writing so much of the paper myself.

MACNEILL

I still wish that poor boy had a better fate.

PEARSE

I'm glad you bring up boys and money.

MACNEILL

Oh?

PEARSE

It's money I've come looking for. I'm wanting to start my own school.

MACNEILL

I've been expecting this.

PEARSE

Oh?

MACNEILL

You've devoted more and more of An Claidheamh Soluis to education these past couple years. You might well have an inclination for it.

PEARSE

Thank you.

MACNEILL

I mean it. You're patient, fair minded, and the stories you write show you know how a child's mind works.

PEARSE

I've been hoping to encourage others to write such stories. I grew up reading such stories that the English have, and I don't see why we shouldn't have such stories in Irish.

MACNEILL

Lack of writers, and lack of readers. You know how hard it is to get Gaelic speaking teachers out in the Gaeltacht.

PEARSE

I do indeed. That's why I want to found a school for teaching in Gaelic. Not just teaching it, but using it as our primary language, at least as we get the students fluent enough.

MACNEILL

Interesting.

PEARSE

We need so many reforms Eoin. Gaelic isn't even compulsory in the exams anymore.

MACNEILL

So you want to change the exams?

PEARSE

I want to do away with them. I want to educate Irishmen of character, not just rote learners who get through their exams. I want to try the continental teaching methods I've been studying. I'm going to abolish corporal punishment, and I'm going to teach them to love their own mythology and history and literature, and even add to it once they're grown men. We'll also have traditional music and perform plays that are truly Irish.

MACNEILL

It's grand ambitions you've got.

PEARSE

I've got a whole proper prospectus to show you explaining it all in detail.

MACNEILL

Have you chosen a name?

PEARSE

St. Enda's, for a saint from the Gaeltacht.

MACNEILL

Appropriate. And what do you want from me?

PEARSE

A commitment to send your own boys and a substantial donation. That will lend me credibility when I approach other League members.

MACNEILL

I'm easy to sell on this Padraig, but I fear that the other members already have many calls on their resources.

PEARSE

But this is the future Eoin. Right there in the schools are where we can build an Irish culture that deserves its independence.

MACNEILL

I'm all for it, but I just want to warn you that you'll run into a lot of tapped-out pockets.

PEARSE

That won't stop me from trying.

MACNEILL

And how about the paper? Can you do both?

PEARSE

I don't think so. I intend to resign once the school is certain.

MACNEILL

I was afraid of that. You've done a fine job with it editorially. I suppose I always expected you would move on at some point. That's life after all. Good luck with the school Padraig.

PEARSE

Thank you Eoin.

(Lights go down on MACNEILL and rise on MARGARET and WILLIE at St. Enda's.)

MARGARET

It's wonderful Paddy.

PEARSE

It is indeed. We've got 60 boys already this first term. And Willie's going to be one of the masters.

WILLIE

I am indeed.

MARGARET

What about your sculpting?

WILLIE

I'll build the scenery for these plays Paddy's planning.

PEARSE

Those are dorms that way, those are classrooms over there, these are a couple study halls...

MARGARET

That dormitory looks a bit of a mess.

PEARSE

It needs a mother's touch, don't you think?

MARGARET

Me?

PEARSE

You'd be invaluable Mother. You wouldn't have to do all the work. We'll assign chores to the boys, so all you'd have to do is show them how and make sure everything gets done.

MARGARET

It's more boys than I could take care of to be sure.

PEARSE

Just the ones that are boarding. And I'll see you get all the help you need.

MARGARET

Anything for you Paddy, you know that.

PEARSE

Wonderful. Come, let me show you where the hurling field and the theatre are going to be.

MARGARET

What's that huge painting?

PEARSE

Now that's magnificent, isn't it. That's Cuchulain. I placed it here where the boys would see it every day.

MARGARET

What's that phrase along the bottom?

PEARSE

"Is cuma a mhairimse ach ló 'gus oíche, ach clú 'gus cáil ar m'éachtaí," which in English means, "I care not if I live but a day and a night, if my fame and my deeds live behind me."

MARGARET

And why would he say something like that?

PEARSE

It's from a story about Cuchulain as a boy. Come, I'll tell you.

(They exit as the voice of Aunt Margaret is heard. While the story is being told, PEARSE re-enters and sits down to work.)

VOICE

One day Cuchulain overheard Cathbad the Druid speaking to his pupils, and one of them asked Cathbad what this day would be good for. Cathbad said, "A warrior will take arms today whose name shall be famed in Ireland forever." Cuchulain went to King Conchubar to ask for arms, and said Cathbad had told him to. Cuchulain was given a spear and shield, and tested and broke all the armor in the household, so Conchubar gave him his own armor. Cathbad came and saw that Cuchulain had taken armor, and denied having given any such advice. Cuchulain admitted he had only overheard Cathbad say this. Cathbad said it was true whoever took up arms that day would perform deeds that would have his name over Ireland forever, but he would be doomed to live a short life. To this Cuchulain said, "I care not if I live but a day and a night, if my fame and my deeds live behind me."

(MACNEILL enters.)

MACNEILL

I need to speak with you Padraig.

PEARSE

Of course Eoin. Please come in. What can I do for you?

MACNEILL

Just what is going on at St. Enda's?

PEARSE

In regard to what?

MACNEILL

What are you filling their heads with?

PEARSE

I'm educating them to be Irishmen.

MACNEILL

Your idea of an Irishman?

PEARSE

Is it not a notion we share?

MACNEILL

We did when the school started, but over these last two years, the articles you've written for An Claidheamh Soluis have gotten more and more radical. I look at that newspaper you put out for a while, and the poems and plays you've written, and I start to wonder if you're writing propaganda for the Irish Republican Brotherhood.

PEARSE

I've come to agree with them on many points.

MACNEILL

You've become a highly respected man in many circles. Truly you're to be congratulated for it. But you must be conscious of how your inflammatory rhetoric can stir up trouble. We can't have this now, not when Home Rule is closer than it's ever been.

PEARSE

Will you listen to yourself Eoin. You know right well Britain will never willingly give Ireland its freedom. It's force against force or slavery. There's no other choice.

MACNEILL

Do you fill your students' heads with that stuff? Are you making Irishmen or a bunch of revolutionaries?

PEARSE

Can't a man be both? Do you denounce Wolfe Tone and Robert Emmet and the Fenians?

MACNEILL

Of course not.

PEARSE

Well then?

MACNEILL

That's history Padraig.

PEARSE

Exactly! I'm not making revolutionaries. I'm making young Irishmen who know their own history, language, myths, literature, their own culture Eoin. If that makes them radicals, then we are a people who've lost our soul.

MACNEILL

Do you think you have to say it out loud? Just what do you think they'll draw from all these stories of battles and blood and sacrifice for the glory of Ireland? You'll be driving them into the hands of the IRB. The real reason I came here is to inform you that I'm removing my sons from the school.

PEARSE

Eoin!

MACNEILL

I'm too concerned about the ideas they'll be picking up.

PEARSE

Not now Eoin, not when our finances are so difficult as they are. There might be others lose confidence as well, donors as well as parents.

MACNEILL

I'm sorry the finances are bad, but you were premature in moving to a bigger facility, especially one as run down as this. I fear you may be disgraced by bankruptcy. You might have made it in the old one, but I think you'll continue pouring money into the building itself.

PEARSE

This is the Hermitage of Robert Emmet!

MACNEILL

Politics aside, that's another problem. You're too far outside the city. I prefer to keep my boys at home or I would have sent them to a boarding school before now. I'm sure there are others that feel the same way, and the cost of boarding might make the difference to some.

PEARSE

But think of it, a school at the home of one of Ireland's most famous rebels. Isn't that worth hanging on to?

MACNEILL

It's an admirable tradition and it must be passed on.

PEARSE

Well then?

MACNEILL

But think of the way things are now. We have a chance for success this time. A demonstration like Emmet's would be useless. (He starts to exit.) I wish you luck Padraig, I really do.

(MACNEILL exits. PEARSE crosses to a chair or bench which represents a meeting hall. Lights focus on PEARSE. We hear the sounds of an IRB meeting.)

OFFSTAGE VOICES

What's left to us now but force against force? (sounds of loud agreement) Home Rule won't happen. It's a false promise. It's a lie! (more sounds of agreement) John Redmond would have us be like his lot. They'll say "please" and "sorry" and beg for the land Britain stole from the Irish people. (more sounds of agreement. A voice shouts "Redmond's a traitor".) Maybe it is treason! Or maybe it's the worst sort of foolishness to think we'll gain our freedom by serving as King George's footstool! (more sounds of agreement. Someone shouts "collaborators".) We're through with being slaves! (cheers from the audience. PEARSE rises.)

PEARSE

My name is Padraig Pearse. I'm the Headmaster at St. Enda's, and I used to edit The Sword of Light for the Gaelic League. I agree that nothing but arms will win Irish freedom! (cheers) However, I feel compelled to say something in the defense of John Redmond. (grumbles) I don't agree with him, but we have to remember we're on the same side. (jeers) Remember that the Home Rule movement has sustained Irish nationalism since the Fenians were crushed (the jeers grow louder). I once favored Home Rule myself (someone shouts "sounds like you still do". PEARSE speaks louder to get over the noise.) so I know the motives are pure. ("They'll leave us purely English") Listen to me. We had to try political means first. Will you listen?! The IRB, the Home Rulers, Sinn Fein, the Gaelic League, we're all seeking the same thing! (PEARSE is having to work to get over the noise.) So sit here and jeer then. What have you actually done? How about you, or you? Done anything but spew your palaver into your beer, you useless tavern rebels?! Do you sit around singing songs of other people's glory!? (The crowd has quieted during these last lines.) I'll tell you what I will do. Give me a hundred men, and I will free Ireland!

(The crowd noise fades. The light focuses tightly on PEARSE. The voice of the old woman is heard in the darkness.)

VOICE

One day, Conchubar said to the boy Cuchulain, "Come with me to the house of Culan, where we have been invited for a great feast." Cuchulain said he had not yet had enough of play, and would follow behind later. So Conchubar and the other guests left. When they were feasting, Culan asked Conchubar if all his people had arrived. Conchubar forgot Cuchulain and said he expected no one else. Culan had a watch-dog, with three chains on him and three men on each chain, which he released to guard his house and his stock. Cuchulain came thereafter and was attacked by the dog. All inside the house heard the battle, and thought sure they would find the boy killed. But the boy had struck the dog so that all its limbs sprang apart and the dog was killed. When Culan saw this, he welcomed the boy but he grieved for his dog which he had raised, and he feared for his house and his stock which would now go unprotected. The boy said, "Give me a whelp of the same sort, and I will raise it for you. Until it is grown, myself will be your watch-dog." Cathbad the Druid was there, and said that henceforth the boy should be called Cu-culan, which in English means "The Hound of Culan." The boy said the name pleased him, and that is how Cuchulain got his name.

(PEARSE rises as the story ends.)

PEARSE

In the name of God,
By Christ His only Son,
By Mary His gentle Mother,
By Patrick the Apostle of the Irish,
By the loyalty of Colm Cille,
By the glory of our race,
By the blood of our ancestors,
By the murder of Red Hugh,
By the sad death of Hugh O'Neill,
By the tragic death of Owen Roe,
By the dying wish of Sarsfield,
By the anguished sigh of Fitzgerald,
By the bloody wounds of Tone,
By the noble blood of Emmet,
By the Famine corpses,
By the tears of Irish exiles,
We swear the oaths our ancestors swore,
That we will free our race from bondage,
Or that we will fall fighting hand to hand. Amen


(Lights continue to focus on PEARSE. The scene is his court-martial. The PROSECUTOR is unseen.)

PROSECUTOR

I'll remind you you're under oath and ask you again: are you in the pay of a foreign government?

PEARSE

No.

PROSECUTOR

Didn't you try to smuggle German arms?

PEARSE

You know this much already.

PROSECUTOR

Doesn't "Sinn Fein" mean "ourselves alone"?

PEARSE

That's a rough translation.

PROSECUTOR

Did you Sinn Feiners contemplate a name change before your little party?

PEARSE

I'm not Sinn Fein.

PROSECUTOR

So who made you a general?

PEARSE

The Irish Volunteers.

PROSECUTOR

Aren't you in the IRB?

PEARSE

You already know that.

PROSECUTOR

And how many Marks did this put in your pocket?

PEARSE

None. We did this ourselves.

PROSECUTOR

What was James Connolly's part in this?

PEARSE

We agreed no one else would be blamed for my actions.

PROSECUTOR

Just answer the question.

PEARSE

I want a lawyer before proceeding further.

PROSECUTOR

No.

PEARSE

Is it normal procedure to court-martial prisoners of war?

PROSECUTOR

That's irrelevant.

PEARSE

I am an officer of an enemy army.

PROSECUTOR

What was James Connolly's part in this?

(CONNOLLY enters.)

CONNOLLY

Thank you for coming Mr. Pearse.

PEARSE

How do you do Mr. Connolly. I assure you, you would have been quite welcome at St. Enda's.

CONNOLLY

It might not be good for your school's image if the likes of me was seen there.

PEARSE

Surely not.

CONNOLLY

I've enough experience with these things to know. That's also why I wanted to speak to you. You have a middle-class respectability that might get you listened to.

PEARSE

What is it that you want?

CONNOLLY

I want the Gaelic League to endorse the transit workers strike. If someone like you endorses us, they might listen to us, and maybe we'll get other nationalists behind us.

PEARSE

You do realize I'm not actually a member of anything except the Gaelic League, and my school takes most of my time now.

CONNOLLY

You don't have to run the strike or organize workers, I know that's not for you, but your articles and speeches give you a pulpit like few other people have. If you speak up, middle-class nationalists are bound to listen.

PEARSE

What do you mean that's not for me?

CONNOLLY

I just meant you're not the sort to organize working people. But you are one for the speeches and writing. I've read your work and you've a definite gift for it.

PEARSE

I've done the Gaelic League quite a lot of good that way.

CONNOLLY

But they're the middle-class you see, just your sort, that's what I meant. You don't have a feel for the poor.

PEARSE

My family was hardly well-off when I was born.

CONNOLLY

Do the women in your family hold down jobs?

PEARSE

My mother and sisters help at the school.

CONNOLLY

But they don't need paying jobs to keep fed.

PEARSE

I couldn't run the school without them.

CONNOLLY

Have they ever held paying jobs?

PEARSE

Mother worked before she was married, and one sister has taught piano...

CONNOLLY

That's what I mean, it's a different world. Did you ever play dress-up as a child, and pretend you were a beggar or something?

PEARSE

Of course. Most children did.

CONNOLLY

Except it was a game and you always had a nice home to go back to. That doesn't quite give you the feeling of being poor.

PEARSE

My childhood was hardly extravagant Mr. Connolly, and I'll have you know I've spent a lot of time in the Gaeltacht. Now if you really want to see poverty, I suggest you go there.

CONNOLLY

It's true I've never been there, but I've also never said they should stay home to preserve the culture instead of emigrating to find a living wage.

PEARSE

I said that because emigration is clearing the land of the living remainder of old Ireland.

CONNOLLY

If people can't make a living, they're going to move, and they'll not worry about preserving anything that doesn't fill their bellies or find them a job.

PEARSE

I'm sorry you have such little appreciation for Irish culture.

CONNOLLY

I'm sorry you have such little appreciation for Irish people Pearse.

PEARSE

I am fighting to preserve the soul of the nation Connolly. What are you doing here if you don't believe in that?

CONNOLLY

I was brought here by the transit workers to help with the strike.

PEARSE

And when the strike is over you go to America again, or is it back to Scotland this time?

CONNOLLY

I'm as Irish as you are Pearse. All Irish in fact, no English father for me.

PEARSE

My father supported the nationalists.

CONNOLLY

Well so did mine.

PEARSE

In Edinburgh?

CONNOLLY

In an Irish neighborhood in Edinburgh. Most people wanted nothing to do with us. You've just heard about "no Irish need apply", but I've seen it. I've been it. And there was still more work to be had there than here.

PEARSE

Then why did you come here?

CONNOLLY

For the strike. I've organized workers elsewhere, and now the struggle has finally brought me to Ireland.

PEARSE

"Finally"? Or is it off to America with you when the strike is done?

CONNOLLY

I came to help organize the transit workers of Dublin, and yes, I would have gone to organize Berlin's transit workers, or millworkers in Paris, or miners in Wales. It's all the same fight. But this is my father's country.

PEARSE

We're stirring revolution here Connolly. The hardship of foreign rule is enough to occupy us.

CONNOLLY

If you want to see hardship, you should see what these strikers are going through. They're going hungry while newspapers say they're causing all the trouble. The company finds any fools at all to run the trams.

PEARSE

Are you telling me the workers can't hang on much longer?

CONNOLLY

I'm telling you it's bad.

PEARSE

I wish I could help. Every penny I get goes into the school. What time doesn't go to the school goes to the Gaelic League. There's nothing I can do about the trams.

CONNOLLY

Who do you think owns those trams Pearse?! British capitalists! Not Irish capitalists, not the workers who built them, not the workers who run them, not the people of Dublin who ride them, but the same people who run the whole bloody country.

PEARSE

Things will change when we're independent.

CONNOLLY

And do you think you're going to get there without the working class? Why do you think you have such trouble raising money for a school to educate a new Irishman? Because the old Irishman is poor, and if he works at all he works for some money bag in London! If Paddy doesn't like slave wages, he can just emigrate and there's plenty more where he came from. It's the same fight Pearse, it's the same fight!

(Lights fade on CONNOLLY and rise on MARGARET as PEARSE walks over to her. She pours a cup of tea for him. He sits down and starts drinking it.)

MARGARET

Why did you take so long getting home Pat? You're late for tea. It's all cold now.

PEARSE

Sorry Mum. I walked back from the meeting with Mr. Connolly.

MARGARET

You walked all that way?

PEARSE

I did. I'm thinking it's best we not take the tram again until the strike's over.

(Lights fall on MARGARET and rise on MACNEILL, who is joined by PEARSE and CONNOLLY.)

PEARSE

Eoin, let me introduce James Connolly.

CONNOLLY

How do you do Mr. MacNeill. Patrick here thinks quite highly of you.

MACNEILL

He's told me about you as well. I would have expected you to move on when the transit strike ended.

CONNOLLY

There's other plans in the works.

MACNEILL

I hope these enjoy some success.

CONNOLLY

Meaning what?

MACNEILL

I meant nothing more than what I said.

CONNOLLY

So whose side were you on during the strike?

MACNEILL

I took the side of workers who went hungry for a lost cause.

CONNOLLY

And whose fault is that?

MACNEILL

So what can I do for you Padraig?

PEARSE

We have a proposition for you Eoin. What did you think of the way the Ulster Volunteers were able to smuggle in 10,000 rifles?

MACNEILL

I thought it very impressive, though I also hear British officers were refusing to stop them. I think that ought to tell you it's us who those rifles are aimed at.

PEARSE

But think of all those Irishmen under their own arms for the first time in centuries.

MACNEILL

You think there's a chance they'll turn them on the British?

PEARSE

They'll be turning their guns on us I have no doubt, but either way it calls for a response.

MACNEILL

What did you have in mind?

PEARSE

Some of us are forming our own army, to be called the Irish Volunteers. We'll put as many nationalists under arms as possible and train them like a real army. We want you to be in charge.

MACNEILL

Are you in the IRB?

PEARSE

I just joined.

MACNEILL

And him?

CONNOLLY

I run my own show.

MACNEILL

And what will you be doing?

PEARSE

I'm about to go to America to raise funds for the school.

MACNEILL

How long?

PEARSE

Until I've raised enough. Weeks, maybe months, depending.

MACNEILL

And would I have to join the IRB?

PEARSE

No.

MACNEILL

Good. I don't like secret organizations.

PEARSE

Does that mean you'll do it?

MACNEILL

That depends on a few things. This can't be just an IRB front.

PEARSE

It won't be. We'll recruit among the Gaelic League, Sinn Fein, labor, anywhere we find support.

MACNEILL

And how do we explain why we're putting an army together?

PEARSE

We'll be an armed force to guard against a foreign invasion when the war starts.

MACNEILL

That's the way it has to be. I'm utterly against dragging the country into a rebellion before we can win. That means we have popular support before we try anything more than recruiting and training. If need be, we will be ready to hold off the Germans.

CONNOLLY

Are you daft?! A German invasion would be the best thing that ever happened to this country.

MACNEILL

Do you think the Kaiser would be any better than the King?

CONNOLLY

Is it not worth a try?

MACNEILL

It's the only way the British will tolerate something like this.

CONNOLLY

The British! They're bound to know that...

MACNEILL

If you want my participation, that's the way it will be. We'll start nothing until we're damn good and ready. The public purpose of this army and the real purpose of this army will be to defend against foreign invasion, German or English. There mere fact of thousands of Irishmen under arms and under their own flag will force Britain to grant us Home Rule.

CONNOLLY

Are you still believing in Home Rule?

MACNEILL

Not without being able to back it up with force. And most of our people still believe it could happen. That's why we're going to have to get John Redmond's support.

CONNOLLY

We're having nothing to do with him.

MACNEILL

I hear Redmond will support an effort like this, if his men have a majority on the governing body.

CONNOLLY

That's too much.

MACNEILL

It's only until Redmond loses popular support. Meanwhile, he'll buy us some respectability.

PEARSE

So you'll do it?

MACNEILL

With those conditions and understandings, yes. And make sure you keep this one (indicating CONNOLLY) under wraps. His sort won't be trusted.

CONNOLLY

Not by you perhaps...

PEARSE

Easy James. All right Eoin. We'll fight when we're ready and not before.

MACNEILL

Then I'm your man.

(Lights fade on MACNEILL as PEARSE and CONNOLLY walk away.)

CONNOLLY

What the bloody hell was that?

PEARSE

James...

CONNOLLY

That stupid fool will do nothing but find excuses to do nothing. He's not the sort to make decisions.

PEARSE

That's a very learned man in there.

CONNOLLY

He's a lot of learning to do yet.

PEARSE

His intentions are good.

CONNOLLY

The road to nowhere is paved with good intentions.

PEARSE

We need his respectability.

CONNOLLY

Respectability! Bloody middle-class respectability! It's the workingman who'll make this revolution. It's always the workingman who does the fighting, but this time he's not fighting to replace foreign capitalists with the home-grown variety.

PEARSE

Does this mean you don't plan to participate yourself?

CONNOLLY

Maybe. The transit strike had one good effect: we've revived and militarized the labour movement, including making the Irish Citizen Army a real organization again. Now if the Volunteers are going to sit around on their bourgeois arses, then all I can say is good luck to you.

(CONNOLLY stalks off. PEARSE goes to his quarters at St. Enda's and unpacks a suitcase. MACNEILL enters.)

MACNEILL

Padraig! I dashed over as soon as I heard you were back from America. Did you hear the news?

PEARSE

I've only begun catching up on things.

MACNEILL

Have you heard Redmond endorsed the war?

PEARSE

I did.

MACNEILL

Did you hear that he's encouraged Ireland to support the British war effort, even to encouraging our men to join the British army?

PEARSE

I did not.

MACNEILL

And the government's using the war as an excuse to put off Home Rule. This ought to finish him.

PEARSE

How many are enlisting?

MACNEILL

I don't know. Tens of thousands I'm sure. But Redmond's lost all credibility amongst the nationalists. I even intend to have the Redmondites booted from the Volunteers' Supreme Council.

PEARSE

He still has considerable support though.

MACNEILL

Now. But watch what happens if the war drags on or ends up a German victory. And here's something you haven't heard. We have some guns of our own now.

PEARSE

How so?

MACNEILL

We smuggled them in. Not so many and not so neat and tidy as the Orangemen with the army's blind eye, but we had a thousand Irishmen with rifles on their shoulders march on Dublin for the first time since the rising of '98.

PEARSE

How did you find out about it?

MACNEILL

Find out? I only orchestrated it, that's all. I'd like to see the IRB do that.

PEARSE

And what have the authorities done about it?

MACNEILL

Nothing. What can they do? If they try to take our arms or arrest us, they'll start the uprising they want to stop. It'll be Lexington and Concord all over again.

PEARSE

They'll move against us sure after this.

MACNEILL

Not until they have to. Until then we can drill and recruit and prepare for when they do move against us.

(blackout, end Act I)

ACT II

(PEARSE is at his court-martial. We hear the PROSECUTOR.)

PROSECUTOR

The Royal Irish Constabulary kept records of your seditious statements. Did you know that?

PEARSE

I guessed. Considering I put most of it in writing, that wasn't hard.

PROSECUTOR

And your speeches. You're quite the speech-maker, aren't you. You spoke last August at the funeral of O'Donovan Rossa along with every other revolutionary that could be dug up. Recognize this?

(PROSECUTOR hands PEARSE a document. PEARSE looks at it. Lights change as PEARSE crosses to the speaking platform and sits between CONNOLLY and MACNEILL.)

CONNOLLY

Relax Pearse, you don't have to have the thing memorized.

PEARSE

I like to be prepared. Besides, I'm next.

MACNEILL

I'll go next Padraig. You take my position.

PEARSE

I couldn't. That would be presumptuous of me don't you think.

MACNEILL

Nonsense. You're the one they're waiting to hear. They don't even know who some of us are. Am I not telling the truth Mr. Connolly?

CONNOLLY

Indeed you are in the case of certain persons.

MACNEILL

(Ignoring Connolly.) You'd think you were a proper elocutionist after you honed yourself on that tour of America. You've got a reputation for yourself and no doubt. You sit there and I'll have us switched.

(MACNEILL exits.)

PEARSE

Try to get along with him, or at least appear so.

CONNOLLY

And how do I do that?

PEARSE

Shake hands, nod, smile once...

CONNOLLY

Smile? It's a bloody funeral Pearse, not one of your plays.

(MACNEILL enters.)

MACNEILL

Your turn my lad.

(PEARSE rises and steps forward.)

PEARSE

This is a place of peace, sacred to the dead, where men should speak with all charity and restraint; but I hold it a Christian thing, as O'Donovan Rossa held it, to hate evil, to hate untruth, to hate oppression, and, hating them, to strive to overthrow them. Our foes are strong and wise and wary; but strong and wise and wary as they are, they cannot undo the miracles of God who ripens in the hearts of young men the seeds sown by the young men of a former generation. And the seeds sown by the young men of '65 and '67 are coming to their miraculous ripening today. Rulers and Defenders of Realms had need to be wary if they would guard against such processes. Life springs from death; and from the graves of patriot men and women spring living nations. The Defenders of this Realm have worked well in secret and in the open. They think that they have pacified Ireland. They think that they have pacified half of us and intimidated the other half. They think they have foreseen everything, think that they have provided against everything; but the fools, the fools, the fools!---they have left us our Fenian dead, and while Ireland holds these graves, Ireland unfree shall never be at peace!

(We hear the old woman singing "The Rising of the Moon". Lights fall and rise again on CONNOLLY alone on stage. PEARSE enters to join him. Song fades.)

PEARSE

I asked to see you alone.

CONNOLLY

How hospitable of you to come visit.

PEARSE

It wasn't my idea to have you dragged here, but you refuse to cooperate with us.

CONNOLLY

I refuse to sit around and do nothing.

PEARSE

We are doing something.

CONNOLLY

What?

PEARSE

Some firm plans are in place.

CONNOLLY

But you won't tell me, will you? Christ almighty, don't you trust me by now Pearse?

PEARSE

Yes, I trust you.

CONNOLLY

But not enough to share these vaunted plans of yours.

PEARSE

They're closely guarded. You know how spies and informers ruined the Fenians. We don't want the same thing to happen to us.

CONNOLLY

Is that what you think of me?

PEARSE

You're not even in the IRB, you're off "running your own show."

CONNOLLY

And can I ask how you knew what the ICA was up to? You know a thing or two about spies and informers yourself I suppose.

PEARSE

You're not going to accomplish anything with your little demonstration except to make the British crack down on all of us.

CONNOLLY

You're not giving them a reason to crack down.

PEARSE

We're planning something much bigger.

CONNOLLY

Which you can't tell me about.

PEARSE

I really wish I could.

CONNOLLY

Since you can't, mind if I leave?

PEARSE

As soon as you give your word you won't move before we do.

CONNOLLY

It's going to happen anyway.

PEARSE

What?

CONNOLLY

Presumably if I've disappeared, I'm in British hands. The standing orders are the attack starts without me before everyone gets arrested.

PEARSE

Do you think 200 men...

CONNOLLY

I think we might manage 300.

PEARSE

Or even 300, will accomplish anything throwing themselves against Dublin Castle?

CONNOLLY

I think we'll do as well as your hero Robert Emmet. Maybe we'll even take the thing with enough surprise.

PEARSE

You won't take Dublin Castle with that.

CONNOLLY

But we can sure cause a racket and take a bunch of RIC with us.

PEARSE

But we can do more.

CONNOLLY

Will you do it?

PEARSE

Yes! Things are well in hand if you would just trust us.

CONNOLLY

When? And what?

PEARSE

I can't say!

CONNOLLY

And you wonder why I'm skeptical! Look Pearse, maybe most of your cabal has missed the headlines while doing your wee bit of plotting, but conscription has been expanded to Ireland. We have to strike now, while the anger is hot, and before anymore Irish workingmen get dragged off to France.

PEARSE

"England's difficulty is Ireland's opportunity." I know. You're preaching to the choir.

CONNOLLY

Which is a real trick when you never step inside a church. That's a joke Pearse, do you have no sense of humour at all?

PEARSE

Not much. Certainly not in religious matters.

CONNOLLY

Yes, well, I don't joke about workers losing life and limb for their oppressors' empires. We may or may not win Irish independence, but we'll surely show Irishmen they don't have to be Britain's cannon fodder.

PEARSE

We all have the same goals.

CONNOLLY

Do we? Are you convinced the war is an unadulterated evil?

PEARSE

God wouldn't have sent it upon us without some purpose.

CONNOLLY

And what pray tell would that be?

PEARSE

I don't know. Some good must come from it.

CONNOLLY

Such as?

PEARSE

Such as all those men who'll be experienced soldiers.

CONNOLLY

I've been in the regular army, remember? What did I gain for part of my life given up?

PEARSE

You gained experience that could be invaluable once the fighting starts.

CONNOLLY

A good sacrifice.

PEARSE

You can put it that way.

CONNOLLY

And the ones who don't come back? What did they give their lives for, and what did they accomplish by taking a bunch of German lives?

PEARSE

Nations are fields watered with blood.

CONNOLLY

Do you think so?

PEARSE

We'll resurrect the Irish nation from their sacrifice.

CONNOLLY

A sacrifice? Do you think that's what all this is about?

PEARSE

Indeed I think some good will come from it.

CONNOLLY

Now you're sounding like bloody King George.

PEARSE

Perhaps I know that Mr. Marx's appeal has its limits.

CONNOLLY

You never believed any of it, did you.

PEARSE

Of course I do.

CONNOLLY

You don't sound like it now, standing there defending the mass bloodletting in Flanders. Do you not remember what you once wrote about the rich needing to imagine being poor? I hope you meant more than a child in a costume. I still quote that.

PEARSE

I meant it then and I mean it now. But may I ask why you plan to hurl yourself against Dublin Castle if you feel that way about sacrifices?

CONNOLLY

Because we'll stop the bloodletting by making the workingman realize the war is for his masters and not for himself. And we're not waiting for God to give us a sign or Finn MacCumhail to do our fighting for us.

PEARSE

But you want to take Finn's place. People need their heroes, even if you don't realize that's what you're trying to give them. They need Finn as much as they need Marx.

CONNOLLY

They can take their pick as far as I'm concerned. Well, are we done?

PEARSE

What?

CONNOLLY

Are we done? Can I go now?

PEARSE

You still haven't agreed to call it off.

CONNOLLY

You still haven't given me a reason to.

PEARSE

I could tell you if you joined the IRB.

CONNOLLY

What, oath and all?

PEARSE

Oath and all.

CONNOLLY

And I'm in on the planning.

PEARSE

Fine.

CONNOLLY

Your mates won't object to me joining their secret club?

PEARSE

'Twill be a done deal.

CONNOLLY

All right then.

PEARSE

Easter Sunday. We're arranging to smuggle in German arms just before so there's minimal time for detection. Then we take over the General Post Office and other defensible positions in Dublin, plus similar operations elsewhere like Belfast, Cork, maybe Wexford. We plan to hold maneuvers every week leading up to it so it all appears normal.

CONNOLLY

Well. It's the truth you told me.

PEARSE

You can see the need for secrecy. No one but the leadership will know it's anything other than routine until we're marching off to battle. Then we'll see if the country gets behind us. Now, if you wouldn't mind raising your right hand. Repeat after me. In the presence of God, I, James Connolly, do solemnly swear that I will do...

(Lights fall on CONNOLLY during oath and rise on MACNEILL.)

MACNEILL

Just what is the IRB up to Padraig?

PEARSE

What do you mean Eoin?

MACNEILL

Something's up. I can smell it. Drills are held without my knowledge. Aid is sought from the Americans and the Germans without my say so.

PEARSE

There's nothing unusual going on.

MACNEILL

It's gotten far too usual to suit me. What's the real purpose of the orders issued for Easter maneuvers? Why do I hear rumours that an Easter deadline is common knowledge in America? Shouldn't I be suspicious that the military committee is dominated by IRB men?

PEARSE

We hold a majority on most committees. We tend to be the most active.

MACNEILL

Sure, they're active, they can't be blamed for that. It's what they plan in secret I worry about. Or do you think it's escaped my notice that most field commanders are IRB?

PEARSE

It's a matter of who's willing to do it.

MACNEILL

Like yourself, General Pearse?

PEARSE

It's an honorary title only.

MACNEILL

So you're not running around the country inspecting soldiers?

PEARSE

I write and speak. I don't actually drill anybody.

MACNEILL

I think you're trying to push us into open revolt before we're ready.

PEARSE

We are ready! Or should we wait until the war is over and Britain can turn its full attention to us?

MACNEILL

Of course not!

PEARSE

And how do you know England and Germany won't suddenly declare a truce one day?

MACNEILL

Not likely.

PEARSE

Not impossible either.

MACNEILL

The country's not ready.

PEARSE

It's as ready as it's going to be.

MACNEILL

That so? I know all about that fiasco in Limerick when you practically had to fight your way through a hostile crowd. They don't sound ready to me.

PEARSE

Do you think popular opinion will suddenly just line up behind us one fine day? The people will follow when there's a reason to follow, when we've actually started something. A revolt will be the best recruiting campaign we can have.

MACNEILL

I see no signs of it. What I do see is a lot of Irishmen still joining the British army, only a minority of our men with rifles in their hands, and hardly even a uniform between them.

PEARSE

Did the Fenians wait for uniforms? Did the rebels of '98 wait until they all had guns?

MACNEILL

No, and they failed miserably.

PEARSE

Then did the French peasants hold a referendum before they stormed the Bastille? Didn't the Americans start their war before they even declared independence?

MACNEILL

Which proves my point. The British backed them into it you may recall, but they haven't moved against us.

PEARSE

It's only a matter of time before they do.

MACNEILL

And we need that time to prepare.

PEARSE

So we let them decide when things start? Better to catch them by surprise.

MACNEILL

We agreed when we started the Volunteers that our purpose was to start a rebellion that might actually win. We have enough martyrs. What we needed and still need is popular support first, plus enough arms and trained men to be effective.

PEARSE

Will we ever have enough guns or men? We'll never match the British in either. We must first show the people that we can bring force against force!

MACNEILL

Will you answer one small question? Who runs things, me or the IRB? Tell me the truth.

PEARSE

(He hesitates to answer.) We do.

MACNEILL

I see. One more small thing. Am I right? Do you have firm plans to start something on your own?

PEARSE

(He thinks about whether to tell him.) No.

(MACNEILL exits. PEARSE sits and composes a letter. WILLIE is working with him.)

WILLIE

Is it true Pat, you intend to have me off running errands when the fighting starts?

PEARSE

It's not errands. We need to try to coordinate between the different parts of the country. There's actually quite a lot of responsibility.

WILLIE

Quite a lot of paperwork. And no fighting.

PEARSE

Look Willie,...

WILLIE

No, look Pat, I'm not going to skulk into the shadows. I'm not in this just to please you.

PEARSE

Why are you in it then?

WILLIE

For the same reasons and causes as you. And I'm willing to take every chance you are.

PEARSE

But maybe I'm not willing to have you take all those chances.

WILLIE

It's not your decision.

PEARSE

Isn't this ironic.

WILLIE

What?

PEARSE

You done everything I've ever done. You followed right behind me into the Gaelic League and the school...

WILLIE

I thought you wanted me along.

PEARSE

I did. I couldn't run this school without you. You can't imagine what a relief it is to have someone I can trust so completely in your position.

WILLIE

Well then?

PEARSE

I figured you'd go your own way eventually. So here you are doing that, and you're putting yourself right into the front line with me. Don't you think our mother should have at least one son who comes out of this...

(They fall silent as MARGARET enters. She's aware their conversation stopped short.)

MARGARET

Pat, the Smith boy is asking when he can leave the study hall.

PEARSE

He'll stay there until the boys go to bed.

MARGARET

How long has he been in there?

PEARSE

Since this afternoon.

MARGARET

This afternoon? What did he do?

PEARSE

I caught him tormenting a cat. I will not abide cruelty to animals.

MARGARET

Surely he's learned his lesson by now. You usually let them off too easily.

PEARSE

Perhaps.

MARGARET

Couldn't you just paddle him and be done with it?

PEARSE

I will not have the boys paddled, nor whipped nor thrashed nor spanked. It would defeat the point of having the school.

MARGARET

Are you writing to donors?

PEARSE

No, I'm writing to...(he looks up at WILLIE, who shakes his head "no") it's other business.

MARGARET

There were three tradesmen came round today asking for payment.

PEARSE

What did you tell them?

MARGARET

That I would remind you about it.

PEARSE

I need a moment's forgetting more than I need reminding.

MARGARET

Did you receive some money yesterday?

PEARSE

I'm afraid that's meant for the Volunteers.

MARGARET

I know you've been busy with all that, but you need to look after the school a bit.

PEARSE

I intend to.

MARGARET

Willie, tell him. It's getting harder to find anyone who'll extend us credit.

PEARSE

I'm trying to get all my affairs in order. I wish I could get rid of those gnawing debts. We'll just have to hope everyone understands I did the best I could.

MARGARET

We understand Paddy. It's not the opinion of strangers you should worry too much about.

PEARSE

I wish that were so.

MARGARET

(to WILLIE) And you're busy with this same business I suppose.

WILLIE

I am.

MARGARET

What exactly do you do?

WILLIE

I'm the Acting Chief of Staff.

MARGARET

I see. Is there much danger?

PEARSE

Technically, it's a non-combat role.

MARGARET

A private word Paddy.

(MARGARET and PEARSE move off to one side.)

MARGARET

You'll see he comes to no harm?

PEARSE

I'll do my best.

MARGARET

He dotes on you Paddy, we all do. That's why you have to be careful.

PEARSE

I know Mum.

(MARGARET exits. Enter MACNEILL.)

MACNEILL

What were you so anxious to see me about?

PEARSE

I want you to join us.

MACNEILL

I'm just not sure.

PEARSE

You've seen the plans smuggled from Dublin Castle. Did you plan to wait and be arrested?

MACNEILL

I have, but they haven't acted. It's just a contingency in case they think we're about to act. That's why it's got to be called off. I've already countermanded your orders.

PEARSE

It's too late for that! Roger Casement is arriving Good Friday with a cargo of German rifles. How long do you think the Castle will wait once they get news of that? We have to strike as soon as those rifles are distributed.

MACNEILL

You've come that far? There's a reckoning to be had now, that's for sure.

PEARSE

Then you have to decide whether you're in or out, because it's happening with or without you.

MACNEILL

All right Padraig, I'm with you.

PEARSE

Will you sign the proclamation?

MACNEILL

When I've seen it.

(Exit MACNEILL. Enter CONNOLLY.)

CONNOLLY

Pearse, Casement's been caught!

PEARSE

What? How?

CONNOLLY

The bloody Royal Navy was waiting for him.

PEARSE

He's been betrayed!

CONNOLLY

Must have been.

PEARSE

Has anyone else been arrested?

CONNOLLY

No, just him. They must not have had more information.

PEARSE

Didn't anyone see the navy at the landing spot?

CONNOLLY

Of course, but the German ship didn't have a wireless so there was no way to warn them. Idiots!

PEARSE

What happened to the rifles?

CONNOLLY

The German captain scuttled the ship. They're at the bottom of the ocean.

PEARSE

An informer! Always an informer! Why is Ireland cursed with those, why?!

CONNOLLY

The question is what do we do without those rifles?

PEARSE

We call it off of course.

CONNOLLY

Like hell we do! The ICA is going, whether anyone comes with us or not.

PEARSE

You can't do that. You'll ruin any chance of a bigger demonstration.

CONNOLLY

They're going to be coming for us now Pearse!

PEARSE

That's why we have to leave here. We should disappear in the west until we can make a new plan.

CONNOLLY

You want to scurry away like a rabbit?

PEARSE

I want to avoid getting caught without a shot fired.

CONNOLLY

It's up to us whether we fire any shots or not.

PEARSE

We'll have a lot of men with no guns! What should they use, spears?

CONNOLLY

We're not looking for a military victory anyway. We cope. The ICA is going.

PEARSE

It's certain death!

CONNOLLY

Wasn't it always?

PEARSE

You'll be done in a few hours. All you'll accomplish is a British crackdown that will finish all of us before we start.

CONNOLLY

You don't command the ICA, I do. We're going, according to plan. That's that. You can wait to be caught or do your best.

PEARSE

We'll do our best then, according to plan, and God have mercy on our souls.

(CONNOLLY exits. PEARSE sits at his desk exhausted. MACNEILL enters.)

MACNEILL

You've deceived me!

PEARSE

About what?

MACNEILL

Dublin Castle's plans to disarm and arrest us. It's a bloody forgery!

PEARSE

There's no need for that sort of language.

MACNEILL

I'm not just swearing. This thing is bloody, thanks to all the men who are going to get killed.

PEARSE

I didn't know at the time myself.

MACNEILL

But you didn't tell me when you found out, did you.

PEARSE

I have a lot on my mind now. And aren't our plans too far advanced to worry about that now.

MACNEILL

Your plans are called off. I'm countermanding your orders again.

PEARSE

It's too late for that! You said it yourself!

MACNEILL

I've been talking to Fitzgibbon and O'Rahilly. They've convinced me that the British would have acted by now if they were going to. They apparently think they've put a stop to it, and you know yourself they don't want to spark the uprising they hope to avoid altogether.

PEARSE

Do you really believe that, with Casement in their hands?

MACNEILL

Maybe there's more to that too, after all the lies you've told me.

PEARSE

Do you really think your orders will be obeyed?

MACNEILL

I intend to try. I'll dispatch them to all the field officers and I'll give it to the Sunday Independent.

PEARSE

You're joking!

MACNEILL

Just a routine looking announcement that the maneuvers planned for Sunday have been canceled.

PEARSE

You can't stop it Eoin! You can only confuse things!

MACNEILL

And how many will you kill with your foolishness?

PEARSE

Enough to spark the next uprising.

MACNEILL

Are you taking your students with you?

PEARSE

Of course not.

MACNEILL

And aren't some in the IRB?

PEARSE

Yes, some are.

MACNEILL

At your instigation no doubt.

PEARSE

Some joined before I did.

MACNEILL

So it's only the rest you're leading to the sacrifice.

PEARSE

I encouraged them to no such thing! Some even joined the British army. Surely you don't think I encouraged them to do that.

MACNEILL

And how often in your classes have you led them off to Emain Macha?

PEARSE

You go too far, accusing me of dragging boys off into battle. We have used your name and influence for what they were worth, but we have done with you now. It's no use trying to stop us. Our plans are all made and will be carried out.

(MACNEILL exits as light rise on CONNOLLY.)

PEARSE

James, James!

CONNOLLY

What is it?

PEARSE

MacNeill's done it again! He's countermanded our orders.

CONNOLLY

That great bollix, can't he make up his mind.

PEARSE

I've spoken already to MacDonough and Plunkett, and they've gone to find Clarke and MacDermott. We have to have a meeting of the council right away.

CONNOLLY

I'll get my coat. So what do you think we ought to do?

PEARSE

I think we should confirm the countermand to keep off suspicion, then issue new orders for Monday too late for him to countermand those as well.

CONNOLLY

You don't think the Castle will give us until Monday?

PEARSE

Plunkett thinks the order in the newspaper will make them think it's called off. I agree.

CONNOLLY

Bloody hell. Orders, new orders, countermands...'twill be a wonder if anyone shows up at all.

(Blackout. We hear the old woman singing "The Rising of the Moon". Lights rise on PEARSE, WILLIE, and MARGARET. PEARSE is off to one side putting the finishing touches to his uniform. WILLIE is bundling their gear. MARGARET is next to him.)

WILLIE

This is it Mum.

MARGARET

Will you be coming back Willie?

WILLIE

I'll try, but I don't think so. Anyway, I have to go to look after my big brother, make sure he doesn't get so busy writing speeches that he forgets to duck.

MARGARET

You must look after him.

WILLIE

I will. I love you Mum.

(They embrace)

MARGARET

Can't you delay things?

WILLIE

No. I'm sorry. Slán agat.

MARGARET

Slán abhaile.

(WILLIE exits. MARGARET goes over to PEARSE.)

PEARSE

Have you finished saying good-bye to Willie?

MARGARET

I have. What are your chances Paddy?

PEARSE

Not good.

MARGARET

I told Willie to make sure nothing happens to you. You do the same for him.

PEARSE

We'll both do our best.

MARGARET

Good. You've got everything you need?

PEARSE

Willie has the rest.

MARGARET

Can you carry it all on your bicycles?

PEARSE

We'll manage. Say good-bye to the boys for me. I couldn't myself for obvious reasons.

MARGARET

Of course.

PEARSE

You're going to be hearing terrible things about me. The truth will come out in time. Here, I've written something for you I hope will explain things. Have a look at it when we've left.

MARGARET

All right.

PEARSE

Good-bye Mum.

MARGARET

Paddy, don't do anything rash.

PEARSE

No Mother.

(PEARSE exits. MARGARET reads the poem.)

MARGARET

I do not grudge them: Lord, I do not grudge
My two strong sons that I have seen go out
To break their strength and die, they and a few,
In bloody protest for a glorious thing,
They shall be spoken of among their people,
The generations shall remember them,
And call them blessed;
But I will speak their names to my own heart
In the long nights;
The little names that were familiar once
Round my dead hearth.
Lord, thou art hard on mothers:
We suffer in their coming and their going;
And tho' I grudge them not, I weary, weary
Of the long sorrow---And yet I have my joy:
My sons were faithful, and they fought.

(Lights fall on MARGARET and rise on WHEELER leading PEARSE back to his cell.)

PEARSE

What rank did your brother hold when he died?

WHEELER

First Lieutenant.

PEARSE

What did he look like?

WHEELER

About your height I suppose. Similar hair color. More stocky than you.

PEARSE

A career officer?

WHEELER

Yes. He wanted to serve his country.

PEARSE

I understand that feeling.

(They look at each other a moment. WHEELER starts to exit.)

PEARSE

Is there any news of my brother?

WHEELER

He's to be court-martialed too, probably tomorrow.

PEARSE

Please speak to General Maxwell for me. I wasn't given a chance to plead for him during the court-martial.

WHEELER

It won't do any good.

PEARSE

You must make him listen! He was just part of the staff, he wasn't in a command position.

WHEELER

There's nothing I can do about it.

PEARSE

Does a mother need to lose both her sons? Think of that!

WHEELER

Lots of mothers have lost lots of sons these past two years.

PEARSE

Then here's a chance for there to be one less!

WHEELER

I'll do what I can. But please don't get your hopes up. I can't promise anything.

(WHEELER exits. CONNOLLY and WILLIE enter. They and PEARSE stand before their assembled soldiers. CONNOLLY is in his ICA uniform.)

CONNOLLY

Good morning and congratulations Mr. President.

PEARSE

I hope I can live up to it.

CONNOLLY

If you can't, don't worry, you'll be dead in a few days anyway.

PEARSE

Thank you for the reassurance.

CONNOLLY

Anytime. Besides, if you didn't do it they might have made me do it, and you're not despised by the entire Irish middle class. I'm content to be Commander-in-Chief of the units in Dublin. That's all we're likely to have anyway. Unless you've heard that we can expect more.

PEARSE

I haven't heard a thing. This is it. Not much of a showing, is it.

CONNOLLY

Still a lot better than the ICA would have done on our own. Some more guns would be useful. Look over there.

PEARSE

Pikes?

CONNOLLY

Pikes. A few shovels too. I suppose that's to defend against moles.

PEARSE

Looks like 1798.

CONNOLLY

I'd wager they are from 1798.

PEARSE

At least they came.

CONNOLLY

Aye, we're lucky maybe. MacNeill's bloody countermands did their work.

PEARSE

Maybe more will rise when they get the news from here.

CONNOLLY

I hope they don't dilly-dally about it.

PEARSE

(checking his watch) Well General Connolly, there seems little point in waiting for more to arrive.

CONNOLLY

(Connolly gives a smart salute.) Yes sir. (to the soldiers) Attention. When we enter the GPO, you will disarm and detain any soldiers or police we happen to find and remove all civilians. Right, turn. Form, fours. Forward, march.

(They march off as lights fall. We hear the sounds of the GPO: footsteps, echoing voices, business being transacted. The sound is cut off by CONNOLLY shouting "Left Turn, Charge!" They suddenly enter and chase everyone from the building. They shout at civilians to leave, CONNOLLY somewhat more gruffly than PEARSE.)

CONNOLLY

Barricade the doors. Break the windows, and check the upper floors. Oh blast it Pearse.

PEARSE

What?

CONNOLLY

While we were mucking around to see who would show up, we forgot the bloody flags. You two, you know where we keep the flags? Right then, fetch them, and get them back here as quick as you can.

PEARSE

Have someone run to the cathedral and fetch a curate.

CONNOLLY

What?

PEARSE

To hear confessions.

CONNOLLY

Right. You've got the proclamation ready?

PEARSE

As soon as the flags arrive. I'll see to that and getting them posted.

CONNOLLY

You men, I need a volunteer.

(He exits. PEARSE is alone on stage. The commotion fades as he reads the proclamation to himself. He steps forward to the edge of the stage. He is addressing the civilians outside the building.)

PEARSE

Poblacht na h-Eireann. The Provisional Government of the Irish Republic to the People of Ireland: Irishmen and Irishwomen---In the name of God and of the dead generations from which she receives her old tradition of nationhood, Ireland, through us, summons her children to her flag and strikes for her freedom.

(There are scattered cheers and jeers, and we distinctly hear someone ask "Who are you?")

We declare the right of the people of Ireland to the ownership of Ireland and to the unfettered control of Irish destinies to be sovereign and indefeasible. Six times during the past three hundred years they have asserted it in arms. Standing on that fundamental right and again asserting it in arms in the face of the world, we hereby proclaim the Irish Republic as a Sovereign Independent State, and we pledge our lives and the lives of our comrades in arms to the cause of its freedom, of its welfare and its exaltation among the nations.

(More noise from the crowd. Some cheer "liberty", "God save Ireland", and "independence". Other voices say "are you mad", "don't you know we're at war", "I have business in there", and one voice is distinctly heard shouting "What about my separation allowance?")

The Republic guarantees religious and civil liberty, equal rights and equal opportunities to all its citizens, cherishing all the children of the nation equally, and oblivious of the differences carefully fostered by an alien government.

(We hear a repeat of "What about my separation allowance?" and another saying "I have a son in the army you traitor!" More cheers and jeers.)

We place the cause of the Irish Republic under the protection of the Most High God, Whose blessing we invoke upon our arms, and we pray that no one who serves that cause will dishonour it by cowardice, inhumanity, or rapine. In this supreme hour the Irish nation must, by its valour and discipline, and by the readiness of its children to sacrifice themselves for the common good, prove itself worthy of the august destiny to which it is called.

(Voices shout "God bless the Republic of Ireland", "My husband died in Flanders", and some other cheers and jeers. Two flags are raised in the background--one is the Irish tricolor, the other a green flag with a gold harp and the words underneath in gold and white "Irish Republic". Voices die down as CONNOLLY enters and shakes PEARSE's hand.)

CONNOLLY

Thanks be to God, Pearse, that we've lived to see this day.

(There are sounds of people fleeing from the street followed by the sound of hoofbeats.)

PEARSE

There are lancers forming up.

CONNOLLY

(to soldiers) Nobody fires without an order from me. Save your ammunition. They can't get in, so don't fire unless I tell you to. (to PEARSE) Will you look at those arrogant bastards, charging a stone building. (yelling to the lancers) Lovely formation lads, now put your sabres away before they rust.

(A rifle fires, followed by more sporadic firing.)

CONNOLLY

Cease fire! Cease fire damn you!

PEARSE

(Slightly distressed) Some of them are dead!

(We hear the soldiers inside the GPO cheering.)

CONNOLLY

Aye, well, it was bound to happen eventually. Now we're in it.

(CONNOLLY exits as lights fall. We hear sporadic rifle shots and maybe a distant machine gun through the next scene. Lights rise. PEARSE writes.)

PEARSE

25 April, 1916. The Republican forces hold all their positions and the British forces have nowhere broken through. The populace of Dublin are plainly with the Republic, and the officers and men are everywhere cheered as they march through the streets. Communication with the country is largely cut, but reports to hand show that the country is rising, and bodies of men from Kildare and Fingal have already reported in Dublin.

(CONNOLLY enters and looks over his shoulder.)

CONNOLLY

What's that for?

PEARSE

The Irish War News. We're going to print it at Liberty Hall.

CONNOLLY

Another newspaper? You'll get out one issue at the most.

PEARSE

We have to try to tell our side of things. The Irish Times won't be much help.

CONNOLLY

You're telling a socialist that the big newspapers don't tell the whole truth? (He keeps reading.) And where'd you get that bit about the whole country rising? There's almost nothing outside the city as far as we can tell.

PEARSE

But they might rise once they hear what's going on here.

CONNOLLY

So it might become true.

PEARSE

Might even be true already.

CONNOLLY

(He looks again.) I wouldn't exactly say the populace is plainly with us. They're more interested in looting if you ask me.

PEARSE

They're probably British soldiers.

CONNOLLY

A lot of them are our civilians.

(PEARSE gets up and looks out at the street.)

PEARSE

Don't they realize what we're trying to do here?

CONNOLLY

They realize the shops are unguarded and there's no law and order at the moment. Haven't we put a stop to everyone's shopping trips.

PEARSE

I planned to issue another manifesto when this communiqué was finished. I'll exhort the people to discipline themselves.

CONNOLLY

So a hundred people outside might hear your exhortation.

PEARSE

If it doesn't work, I'll issue orders that looters will be shot.

CONNOLLY

I wouldn't wait. (He reads over PEARSE's shoulder again.)

PEARSE

Don't you have anything else you have to be attending to? What about getting the canteen set up?

CONNOLLY

The Cumann na mBan can see to that. Though I don't think the women ought to be doing that.

PEARSE

Why?

CONNOLLY

We're going to be under siege any moment.

PEARSE

They want to serve the cause. Personally, I'm grateful for their help.

CONNOLLY

But under these circumstances...

PEARSE

If we can't trust them to run a canteen, how are we going to trust them with the vote?

CONNOLLY

I'm more concerned with getting them out of here before the British are crawling in the windows.

PEARSE

I am too. Did I just hear artillery?

CONNOLLY

I doubt it. A British capitalist would never stand for seeing his own property destroyed.

PEARSE

But in these circumstances...

CONNOLLY

That's still his money being shelled. He won't have that. If we can stretch our food supplies, there's no telling how long we can hold out.

PEARSE

Then tell the Cumann na mBan to plan for a three week siege. Now I really must get on with this.

CONNOLLY

As if I have nothing to do.

(Lights fall and rise. CONNOLLY is sleeping. PEARSE is writing. Someone is playing "The Rights of Man" on a tin whistle. There are still rifle shots, and definitely more machine guns and artillery.)

PEARSE

Wednesday, 26 April. The forces of the Irish Republic continue a valiant resistance and have yet to give up an inch of ground. Despite the heavy fighting, our own casualties have been light while heavy casualties have been inflicted on the enemy. We have set up telephone lines between the GPO and our outposts, but all communication outside Dublin has been cut off. British gunboats have sailed up the Liffey, but Irish units of the British army have so far refused to take part in the fighting.

CONNOLLY

Hard at it already?

PEARSE

Hard to sleep anyway.

CONNOLLY

True enough. That whistler sounds awfully cheery.

PEARSE

That's one of my former students.

CONNOLLY

Really? Did he do that in school too?

PEARSE

He did. His father once came to see me all exasperated one day. "Oh Mr. Pearse," he complained, "the boy takes no interest in mathematics, or history, or athletics, he just wants to play the tin whistle. What do I do with him?" I suggested he buy the boy a tin whistle.

CONNOLLY

Maybe you should suggest he learn a second song too.

(There is commotion offstage.)

CONNOLLY

I'll see what that is.

(He goes off and comes back with a looter.)

CONNOLLY

Look here Pearse, we caught one of the buggers.

PEARSE

What is he?

CONNOLLY

A looter.

PEARSE

Where did you find him?

CONNOLLY

A patrol found him displayed as sweet as you please in a shop window. Smells like he'd helped himself to some free pints first.

LOOTER

Lots of people were. Everybody was.

CONNOLLY

Shut up.

PEARSE

Hadn't you heard that looters would be shot?

LOOTER

Sure I did, but... (he stops himself)

PEARSE

But what?

LOOTER

Well, it's just...it's not like the RIC gave the order. You're not the bloody government.

PEARSE

We are the government. We're the Provisional Government.

LOOTER

(He considers his situation.) Look, I'm drunk, I don't know what I'm saying. I wish you the best of luck, I really do. My mates and myself, well, everyone was grabbing stuff, we didn't mean any harm.

CONNOLLY

So much for exhorting the people to calm and discipline.

PEARSE

Let him go.

CONNOLLY

And go back on what we said? A bullet will cure his acquisitiveness.

PEARSE

Let him go.

CONNOLLY

Jesus Pearse, what are you thinking of?

PEARSE

He's harmless. Maybe he'll do better one day.

CONNOLLY

Get out of here. (LOOTER hesitates.) That means you can leave.

(The LOOTER starts to leave. CONNOLLY grabs him and stops him.)

CONNOLLY

And tell your mates we might not take them alive next time.

(LOOTER runs out. There are some explosions nearby. PEARSE and CONNOLLY look through different windows to see what the noise was.)

PEARSE

Can you see what they hit?

CONNOLLY

Looks like Liberty Hall was blown to smithereens.

PEARSE

So much for not destroying property.

CONNOLLY

So much for a second issue of Irish War News.

(CONNOLLY exits. PEARSE returns to writing. He falls asleep at his work. The artillery gets more frequent and the machine guns are louder. PEARSE awakens.)

PEARSE

Thursday, 27 April. To General Maxwell, commanding the British forces in Dublin. Sir: I write to protest the shootings of Irish civilians by British snipers. Casualties have included Irish Red Cross workers who were shot while attending to their duties, despite being clearly marked. Your soldiers captured by our forces have been treated with the respect one soldier owes to another, and I must insist the same respect be shown by forces under your command. Yours Respectfully, General Patrick Henry Pearse.

(CONNOLLY enters.)

CONNOLLY

The telephone lines are down.

PEARSE

Can we reestablish them?

CONNOLLY

I think so, but first things first. Half the street must be on fire and it's spreading to the barricades already. I'm going to take a party out and try to rebuild them before the fire gets here.

PEARSE

Can we move to that abandoned factory?

CONNOLLY

British already have it. The scouting party couldn't get there.

PEARSE

Then how did they know the British have it?

CONNOLLY

They heard machine guns.

PEARSE

We'll have to come up with something else.

CONNOLLY

I'll let you worry about that for now.

(CONNOLLY exits.)

PEARSE

Dear Mother: It's likely by the time you get this that our situation will have been resolved. The fires threaten to spread to the GPO, and I may not have another chance to write. I read Willie's letter, and I share his sentiments. I pray you will feel that the sacrifice was worthwhile. Please do not let it be wasted or forgotten. The only other thing I can say is you will be foremost in my thoughts when the final moments come.

(CONNOLLY is carried on by a couple soldiers.)

CONNOLLY

Christ almighty that hurts!

PEARSE

What happened James?

CONNOLLY

I've been shot through the ankle.

PEARSE

Find him a cot!

(Soldiers put CONNOLLY down and exit.)

CONNOLLY

That stings like you wouldn't believe. The whole damn thing is shattered I'm sure.

PEARSE

How did it happen?

CONNOLLY

We were trying to put down the fire on a barricade when a sniper got me.

PEARSE

Where the bloody hell is that cot?! Where's that doctor we captured, get him in here!

(CONNOLLY cries out in pain and faints. Soldiers bring a cot and place CONNOLLY on it. The building is hit by artillery. Everyone is thrown a bit by the shock.)

PEARSE

Will those bastards not stop the shelling for even a moment while we tend our wounded?! (At a window) Will you stop! For the love of God, give us a moment's peace!

(CONNOLLY groans.)

PEARSE

(to the soldiers) Be careful with him!

(PEARSE goes back to his writing. There is a visible glow from the fires.)

PEARSE

Friday, 28 April. During the course of yesterday, the enemy succeeded in cutting our communications with our other positions in the city. They have burnt down whole blocks of houses, apparently with the object of giving themselves a clear field for the play of artillery and field guns against us.

I desire now, lest I may not have an opportunity later, to pay homage to the gallantry of the soldiers of Irish freedom, who have been writing with fire and steel the most glorious chapter in the later history of Ireland. Let me speak their praise, and ask those who come after them to remember them. Already they have won a great thing. They have redeemed Dublin from many shames, and made her name splendid among the names of cities.

If we accomplish no more than we have accomplished, I am satisfied that we have saved Ireland's honour. I am satisfied that we should have accomplished the task of enthroning, as well as proclaiming, the Irish Republic as a sovereign state, had our arrangements for a simultaneous rising of the whole country been allowed to go through on Easter Sunday. Of the fatal countermanding order which prevented these plans I shall not speak further. Both Eoin MacNeill and we have acted in the best interests of Ireland. For my part, I am not afraid to face either the judgment of God, or the judgment of posterity.

(WILLIE enters.)

WILLIE

The scouting parties have had no luck at all.

PEARSE

We'll have to keep trying.

WILLIE

We will.

PEARSE

Assign another party, tell them to try north again...

WILLIE

I'll lead this one myself.

PEARSE

No.

WILLIE

I'm going to do something useful.

PEARSE

You're invaluable to me here.

WILLIE

But I want to do something myself. If I can't lead it, I'll have nothing to do with it.

PEARSE

Aren't things bad enough without you disobeying orders.

WILLIE

Then give me the order to go!

PEARSE

I can't do that.

WILLIE

You can and you must. Perhaps that's the price.

PEARSE

Beannacht de agat.

(WILLIE exits. CONNOLLY awakes.)

CONNOLLY

Pearse, what's going on?

PEARSE

Is it any better?

CONNOLLY

Still hurts like hell. It keeps waking me up. Have we made any progress against the fires?

PEARSE

They keep spreading.

CONNOLLY

I can feel the heat.

PEARSE

The top floor's been abandoned already. We've sent out scouting parties to find a means of retreat and we're waiting for the last to return before we make a final decision.

(There is a loud crash. Some soldiers enter.)

SOLDIER

General, the top floor just collapsed!

CONNOLLY

I'd say your plans just got pushed along a bit. So where are we going to go?

PEARSE

The only places we've found are some shops and houses down Henry and Moore streets that were spared the fire. We'll have to regroup once we're under cover. (to SOLDIER) Spread the word that we're evacuating immediately. Have the men make sure we have all the food and ammunition. (to the others.) You two carry General Connolly outside.

(Soldiers exit except for two who carry out CONNOLLY. They move across the stage. They are now outside. They shade their eyes from the sun.)

CONNOLLY

We're sure to be gunned down as soon as we move. It's best we go in different directions and maybe a few will escape.

PEARSE

Men, there's nothing to do but go out and face the machine guns as though you were on parade. Some follow the route this morning's party took in case they got through. Others go along Moore and Henry streets. I need two of you to carry General Connolly.

(Soldiers exit different directions.)

CONNOLLY

I'm not leaving until the last men are out.

PEARSE

Damn, my brother's scouting party still isn't back. Is everyone out of the building?

SOLDIER

Yes sir.

PEARSE

I'm going back in to wait for them.

CONNOLLY

It's about to collapse Pearse.

PEARSE

I know, but they'll go inside looking for us, and they won't know where we've gone.

CONNOLLY

Pearse...

(PEARSE exits back into the GPO. Lights fade as noise of firing increases. Blackout. Sounds fade to sporadic rifle fire. Lights rise. CONNOLLY is on a bed. PEARSE is staring out a window next to the bed. WILLIE and some soldiers are on the other side of the stage, some sleeping and some keeping watch.)

CONNOLLY

Pearse, what's happening?

PEARSE

Is your ankle any better?

CONNOLLY

Doesn't matter. What happened while I was out?

PEARSE

The British haven't found us yet. We've got a few men and we've made the area as defensible as possible. We suffered heavy casualties getting here.

CONNOLLY

What's going on elsewhere?

PEARSE

We've lost all communications. No one even knows where we are. We have seventeen wounded men and two Cumann na mBan nurses who've stayed through the whole thing. Actually, we need to discuss surrender. (CONNOLLY doesn't reply.) James?

CONNOLLY

Surrender? Or fight to the bitter end?

PEARSE

What for at this point? The end's inevitable now. It's just a matter of hunting down survivors.

CONNOLLY

I suppose.

PEARSE

It's insane out there James. The British are shooting at anything that moves. There must be hundreds of civilians killed. I saw for myself both parents and their daughter shot down under a white flag. I never expected that.

CONNOLLY

So what did you expect?

PEARSE

I expected a siege. I expected the British to blast us with artillery. I expected a desperate fight floor to floor, and a last glorious charge into the British guns. My city's burning James! Buildings I've been working in, shopping in, visiting, looking at my whole life are a mass of flames as far as I can see. I knew we would all die, but I didn't know they would destroy central Dublin!

CONNOLLY

Those flames will spark the next rebellion.

PEARSE

They were supposed to spark this one! Why didn't the people rise James, why didn't they grab their chance? What are they waiting for?

CONNOLLY

When Cuchulain fought the hosts of Maeve during the Cattle Raid of Cuailgne, he was almost dead when the Ulstermen finally rose up to fight.

PEARSE

I thought you didn't care about those old myths.

CONNOLLY

I didn't. You kept talking about them anyway.

PEARSE

I think we earned Ireland a seat at the post-war peace conference, whatever else happens.

CONNOLLY

I'd like to think so.

(PEARSE moves back into his cell during his telling of the Death of Cuchulain. As he speaks, the lights rise on the cell on fall on CONNOLLY as WHEELER enters.)

PEARSE

One day Cuchulain met some hags by the roadside who were cooking a dog. They offered him some of the meat, but his geasa was that he could never eat his namesake or he would shortly die, and so he refused. The hags said, "Honor demands that you accept our offering, or it will be said that Cuchulain spurns the company of the poor." Thus Cuchulain ate some of the meat, knowing he would surely die in his next battle. (to Wheeler) It's time?

WHEELER

Yes.

PEARSE

Will I not get to see my brother first?

WHEELER

I've heard nothing about that.

PEARSE

Any word at all?

WHEELER

He evidently said that, in your absence, he became the commander-in-chief. I'm sorry Pearse.

PEARSE

Cuchulain's enemies had made a plan to take Cuchulain's spear from him. When he rode into battle, he saw two men fighting, and a bard came forth to ask the loan of Cuchulain's spear to stop their fight. Cuchulain refused, saying "I swear by what my people swear, you do not need the spear more than I do." But the bard said Cuchulain could not honorably refuse the spear if asked. Cuchulain said yes, I will lend you my spear, and he thrust the butt of the spear so that it went through the bard's head and killed the two men behind. Lugaid, son of Cu Roi, picked up the spear and said to his men, "Did I not tell you that a king would die today?" He hurled it at Cuchulain but hit his charioteer, whose entrails spilled onto the floor of the chariot.

(WHEELER and PEARSE march out of his cell.)

WHEELER

Halt.

(WHEELER ties PEARSE's hands and exits.)

PEARSE

Cuchulain said farewell to his charioteer who had served him since he had first taken arms as a boy, and then drove the chariot himself into battle. Again there were two men fighting, and a bard ran to Cuchulain to ask the loan of his spear to stop the fight. Cuchulain said he had already lent it once, and that was all his honor required. The bard said, "If you refuse to lend it to me, you will bring shame onto Emain Macha and all the Ulstermen." Cuchulain said, "I would not bring shame to the Ulstermen", and he thrust the butt of his spear through the bard's head and through the two men behind him. Again, Lugaid picked up the spear and hurled it at Cuchulain. The spear pierced Cuchulain's belly and let out his entrails.

FIRING SQUAD COMMANDER

(offstage) Make ready!

(The bolts of the rifles are heard sliding into place.)

PEARSE

Cuchulain placed his entrails back in his belly and left the field. Even in his wounded state, no man dared approach him. He tied himself standing to a rock, so that even in death he might face his enemies on his feet.

FIRING SQUAD COMMANDER

Aim!

PEARSE

In his dying moments, Cuchulain saw a raven land on him to feast on his corpse. The bird became entangled in his entrails. Cuchulain let out a long laugh, knowing it would be his last.

FIRING SQUAD COMMANDER

Fire!

(Rifle shots. Blackout. End of play.)

Song Lyrics

The Bold Fenian Men
'Twas down by the glenside, I met an old woman
She was picking young nettles and she scarce saw me coming
I listened a while to the song she was humming
Glory O, Glory O, to the bold Fenian men

'Tis fifty long years since I saw the moon beaming
On strong manly forms and their eyes with hope gleaming
I see them again, sure, in all my daydreaming
Glory O, Glory O, to the bold Fenian men.

Some died on the glenside, some died near a stranger
And wise men have told us that their cause was a failure
But they fought for old Ireland and they never feared danger
Glory O, Glory O, to the bold Fenian men

I passed on my way, God be praised that I met her
Be life long or short, sure I'll never forget her
We may have brave men, but we'll never have better
Glory O, Glory O, to the bold Fenian men


The Galway Races
As I rode down to Galway town to seek for recreation
On the seventeenth of August my mind was elevated,
There were multitudes assembled with their tickets at the station.
My eyes began to dazzle and them going to see the races.
Chorus: With me whack foldeda folde dithery idle day.

There were passengers from Limerick and passengers from Nenagh
And passengers from Dublin and sportsmen from Tipp´rary,
There were passengers from Kerry and all quarters of the nation
And our member, Mr.Hasset for to join the Galway Blazers.
Chorus

There were multitudes from Aran and members from New Quay Shore,
The boys from Connemara and the Clare unmarried maidens.
There were people from Cork city, who were loyal, true and faithful,
That brought home the Fenian prisoners from dying in foreign nations.
Chorus

There was half a million people there of all denominations,
The Catholic, the Protestant, the Jew and Presbyterian,
There was yet no animosity, no matter what persuasion,
But fáilte and hospitality inducing fresh acquaintance.
Chorus

The Rising of the Moon
O tell me Sean O'Farrell, tell me why you hurry so.
"Hush me boluchal, hush and listen", and his cheeks were all aglow.
"I bear orders from the captain, make ye ready quick and soon,
For the pikes must be together by the rising of the moon."

By the rising of the moon,
By the rising of the moon,
For the pikes must be together by the rising of the moon.

O then tell me Sean O'Farrell where the gathering is to be.
"On the old spot by the river, right well known to you and me.
One word more, for signal token, whistle up the marching tune,
With your pike upon your shoulder by the rising of the moon."

By the rising of the moon,
By the rising of the moon,
With your pike upon your shoulder by the rising of the moon.

Out of many a mud-walled cabin, eyes were watching through the night.
Many a manly heart was throbbing for the coming morning light.
Murmurs ran along the valleys like the banshee's lonely croon,
And a thousand pikes were flashing by the rising of the moon.

By the rising of the moon,
By the rising of the moon,
And a thousand pikes were flashing by the rising of the moon.

There beside the singing river, that dark mass of men was seen.
High above their shining weapons hung their own beloved green.
"Death to every foe and traitor. Forward strike the marching tune.
And hurrah me boys for freedom: 'tis the rising of the moon."

'Tis the rising of the moon,
'Tis the rising of the moon,
And hurrah me boys for freedom: 'tis the rising of the moon.

Read the Proclamation of the Irish Republic

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