Chronicles Of Long Kesh

2012 / Grand Opera House, Belfast

Chronicles Of Long Kesh

Production Details

Chronicles of Long Kesh tells the story of the prison – also known as The Maze – from its opening in August 1971 to its closure in July 2000. The story concentrates not on the big politics of the day or those who became well known as a result of their time in prison, but on the experiences of ordinary prisoners, prison officers and their families. Audiences will be confronted with a rich assortment of republicans, loyalists, prison officers, chancers, escapers, wives, Smokey Robinson-imitators and hypochondriacs!

Whilst the play deals with major developments such as the 1974 burning of Long Kesh, the Hunger-strikes, the Big Escape, etc. it also contains its fair share of hilarity, black humour and plenty of Motown songs!

Chronicles of Long Kesh, co-directed by Martin Lynch and Lisa May, features a strong cast of Northern Ireland’s finest actors including Marty Maguire, Andy Moore, Packy Lee, Gerard Jordan, and Jo Donnelly and London actor Billy Clarke.  This powerful cast is garnering terrific reviews and standing ovations after every performance! 

Playwright Lynch interviewed dozens of ex-prisoners from both sides of the 35-year conflict in Northern Ireland (IRA & Loyalist paramilitary groups).  The ex-prisoners revealed many personal stories about the experience in the conflict and in the prison.  Many of the stories were heart-breaking, shocking and also hilarious.  These stories have made their way into the play woven into the lives of the characters.

The Characters

Unbelievably, Freddie The Prison Officer (screw) has served at Long Kesh for almost the entire time it was there. He is a good man who has tried to earn his living as a Prison Officer, do right by the prisoners and bring up his family to be good decent people. Things don’t work out however and one incident on the wings changes his life forever.  Freddie also doubles as our narrator, giving us insights into the inner-workings of the Camp & the personalities that inhabit it.

Eamon, the plumber, night-school teacher is the IRA handyman. His speciality is building underground escape tunnels but he is also a dab hand at making fake arsenals. His life is utterly changed when he has to decide whether to put his name down for hunger-strike.

Hank is a long-term Loyalist prisoner, with a penchant for philosophy and the music of Bob Dylan. His life changes when he decides he no longer supports violence but still has 14 years of his sentence left to do.
Oscar is a Smokey Robinson-loving undertaker from Derry who also doubles as the greatest cross-border guns-smuggler the IRA ever had.
Thumper is the tasty-dressing, cleanliness-fanatic UDA Catholic-killer.
Toot McGinley the republican is innocent! Innocent when he was interned and innocent when he was sentenced to 10 years! If you believe that you’ll believe anything.
Dominic Donnelly hates the world – the sort of guy who does his bird on every body else’s shoulders.  There isn’t an illness he hasn’t suffered……..
……..the characters just go on and on and we haven’t even told you about Steal-The-Sheets the Prison Officer ……..!

Production Credits

Dates and Venues

Grand Opera House and Tour 2012