Clelia Murphy, Terry McMahon, Jared Harris
© Munster Business – Media Services
Shane Connaughton, the Oscar-nominated screenwriter of My Left Foot, treated Limerick audiences to a unique script reading of his latest work at the Belltable Arts Centre yesterday evening.
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 local actors, and was narrated by Irish acting great Stephen Rea, as part of the Richard Harris International Film Festival.
Tom Waller, producer of Pirate Queen, had his film The Last Executioner screened last year at the festival and was inspired to perform a live public reading of Connaughton’s script this year to gauge the audience reaction.
“It’s interesting really,” he said, “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.”
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 along the lines 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 have heard of.
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 financier Rob Gill, businessman, actor and Zeb Moore and his wife theatre producer Sylvia Moore, and has been expanding since its initial inception, adding poetry, live music and theatrical performances to the film competition portion.
The script reading of Pirate Queen – The Story of Grace O’Malley took place at the Belltable Arts Centre, Limerick on Sunday, 30th October as part of the Richard Harris International Film Festival