Entertainment

Irish legend comes to life in script reading of Shane Connaughton’s ‘Pirate Queen’

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Shane Connaughton, the Oscar-nominated screenwriter of My Left Foot, treated Limerick audiences to a script reading of his latest work at the Belltable Arts Centre this week.

‘Pirate Queen – The Story of Grace O’Malley’ was read by a host of Irish acting talent that included Jared Harris, Terry McMahon, Fionnula Flanagan, Anthony Brophy, Sean Cronin and Clelia Murphy, and was narrated by Irish acting great Stephen Rea, as part of the Richard Harris International Film Festival.

richardharrisfestivalimage2Tom Waller, producer of Pirate Queen, said he thought it was a good idea for audiences to hear the work before the film went into production so they could give feedback on the story.

Having had a film screened last year at the festival, Mr Waller thought Limerick was a great place to get a first reaction.

“It’s interesting really because it was actually Richard Harris that introduced me to Shane over 16 years ago and here we are now, working on Pirate Queen together and showing it to the people of Richard’s hometown,” he said.

Based on the true story of Grace O’Malley, chieftain of the Ó Máille clan in the west of Ireland in the late 1500s, Pirate Queen explores the story of how she came to conquer the sea lanes of her native Mayo coastline and her conflicts with British forces.

Part historical epic in the likes of Braveheart, the script is a timely reminder of the power and influence women can have in leadership roles if free of the patriarchy of men, and a delightful telling of an Irish legend many may not know of.

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During a gripping but delightful scene between Queen Elizabeth I and Grace O’Malley, the two actors portraying them, Fionnula Flanagan and Clelia Murphy respectively, let the sparks fly, showcasing the rhythmic and lyrical wording of Mr Connaughton’s writing and entertaining the audience in attendance.

“I’m so grateful to all the actors,” screenwriter Mr Connaughton said after the reading. “They made something remarkable with basically no rehearsal time.”

He added that the Richard Harris International Film Festival could grow to be “as important as any of the larger film festival in Ireland, or even the world.”

In its fourth year, the Richard Harris International Film Festival was the brainchild of actor Zeb Moore, and has been expanding since its initial inception, adding poetry, music and theatre sessions to the film competition portion.

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