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Dermott Petty: “We aim to tell stories that may be overlooked or forgotten yet need to be told.”

Doolin venue for world premiere of Rineen Ambush play

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THE world premiere of a play focusing on one of the most intense incidents in the War of Independence in Clare will be staged in Doolin next Thursday, June 30.

The drama, entitled Two Days in September, secured funding support from the Decade of Centenary Arts Project Awards, 2021, and will premiere at The Attic at Hotel Doolin, with curtain up at 8pm.

Written by Doolin-based playwright Dermott Petty, the play tells the story of the Rineen Ambush. It traces, in film and theatre form, the events of autumn, 1920, when a British Army convoy was ambushed by the Mid-Clare Brigade of the IRA.

It also follows the aftermath of revenge and the sacking, looting and burning of the villages of Ennistymon, Lahinch and Miltown Malbay by the Black and Tans on September 22 and 23.

“West Clare in 1920 was recovering from a land war, famines, World War 1 and Spanish influenza,” said Dermott.

“While a beautiful part of the world had a troubled past, a proud people and a yearning for change. While Ireland had many revolutions, the War of Independence was different.”

“This was not led by Anglo-Irish, or chieftains or the Bishops. This was led by the people. They were small farmers, nurses, labourers, factory workers. It was by the people for the people and the people paid a heavy price. This play will examine that story and tell it in a tense fashion.

“Those two days were filed with bloodshed. The result led to the formation of this Republic. The reaction internationally to the brutal repression and burning of the three villages in response to the Rineen Ambush was what led to truce in the War of Independence.”

The play was commissioned by Clare County Council and pandemic restrictions prompted the unique blend of live performance and film.

“The play will be staged and directed by Joan O’Hanrahan,” Dermott said. “The music and soundscape will be by composer Barry Dillon, along with contributions by actors, friends and technicians of Ballycartoon Players, our theatre group.

“This play received a Decade of Centenaries Arts Project Awards 2021 as part of the Clare County Council Arts office 2021 Decade ofCentenaries in association with the Community Strand of the Department of Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport and Media’s Commemorative Programs.”

Dermott, who holds an MA in Creative Media Studies, is the author of several plays and a founder of Ballycartoon Productions. The organisation was set up in 2017 in Doolin, “to create, produce and tell stories that are inspired by the people and area of North Clare”.

“We aim to tell stories that may be overlooked or forgotten yet need to be told. Jiving Lessons for the Broken-Hearted was our first full production where it premiered in the Royal Spa Hotel in Lisdoonvarna to two sold out performances.”

That play took the internationally famous matchmaking festival as its theme and is described as “a tale of love, dancing, madness, hope, despair, heartbreak, and the need to learn to jive amid the craziness of the Matchmaking festival in a small village in the West of Ireland in September”.

Since it opened last summer, The Attic at Hotel Doolin has provided a venue for performances of all kinds. Its aim is to attract international acts while also supporting homegrown talent across a range of genres and forms.

About Fiona McGarry

Fiona McGarry joined The Clare Champion as a reporter after a four-year stint as producer of Morning Focus on Clare FM. Prior to that she worked for various radio, print and online titles, including Newstalk, Maximum Media and The Tuam Herald. Fiona’s media career began in her native Mayo when she joined Midwest Radio. She is the maker of a number of radio documentaries, funded by the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland (BAI). She has also availed of the Simon Cumbers Media Fund to report on development issues supported by Irish Aid in Haiti. She won a Justice Media Award for a short radio series on the work of Bedford Row Project, which supports prisoners and families in the Mid-West. Fiona also teaches on the Journalism programmes at NUI Galway. If you have a story and would like to get in touch with Fiona you can email her at or telephone 065 6864146.

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