THE IRA in the 1940s was an organisation in search of a purpose, which made some horrendous decisions, such as the Coventry bombing in 1939 or the actions of those elements who collaborated with the Nazis.
The de Valera government was in no mood to tolerate the IRA any longer and members were interned in the Curragh during WWII, and a number of IRA members were executed, including the chief of staff, Charlie Kerins. However, the IRA was a more complex and ideologically diverse organisation in that period than is often understood, and this complexity will be examined in a play coming to the Town Hall Theatre.
Sligo’s Blue Raincoat Theatre Company will stage Tintown on Monday February 24 at 8pm. Written and performed by actor Bob Kelly, it is the story of a young Dubliner who joins the IRA in the 1930s, is interned during WWII, and bore witness to the organisation's decline within the Curragh Camp. The Sunday Independent wrote: "This is serious comedy...Kelly writes and performs with fierce, almost manic intensity… a wonderful, sobering production."
“Tintown encompasses our violent past, the development of socialism and fascism within Ireland, and the political contradictions and absurdities of the time," says the play's director, Niall Henry. "The piece has been meticulously researched through access to rare internee interviews.”
Bob Kelly points out that the IRA in the 1940s were "not terrorists in the clear cut sense of the later IRA", but were instead made up of civil war veterans, 1916 veterans, and non-violent socialists.
"They still believed in the possibility of an Irish Republic," he said, "not just as a geographic ideal, but as a socialist ideal, a secular ideal – and a far cry from the theocratic Free State. The story is a stark reminder of uncomfortable aspects of our history; the long echoes of the civil war, our complex relationship with terrorism, the insidious hold the church had over Irish civic policy."