Monday, December 19, 2011

Digitised items from the Duddy archive

In the intense and tragic state of modern conflicts, few were as severe as the conflict in Northern Ireland that grew into The Troubles. Lines were drawn which staunchly divided families, communities and cities and which resulted in violence, deaths and a history between Ireland and Britain that would forever be remembered solely as a dark time in our shared consciousness.
Throughout twenty years of violent conflict in Northern Ireland a secret channel of communication linked the IRA to the highest levels of the British government. At the heart of this channel was a single intermediary, Brendan Duddy. His house was the venue for secret negotiations between the British Government and the IRA throughout 1975. He managed the intense negotiations over the Republican hunger strikes in which ten men died (1980-1981) and he was at the heart of the contacts (1991-1993) that culminated in a secret offer of a ceasefire that was a precursor to the public IRA ceasefire of 1994.
Deposited at NUI Galway in 2009, the papers of Brendan Duddy provide a unique insight into this channel from the perspective of an individual who operated at the intersection of the two sides. They include coded diaries of contact kept by Duddy throughout 1975 and early 1976 and a diary kept for several months in 1993 when communication between the British Government and the IRA was at its most intense, as well as documents exchanged between the British Government and the IRA. Taken together with the Ruairí Ó Bradaigh papers, also at NUI Galway, these archives  provide a window on the secret back-channel negotiation that was one of the most intriguing aspects of the Irish peace process.
To mark the launch of this incredible collection of papers, the James Hardiman Library has digitised a selection of items from the Duddy Archive. Three documents are taken from three key times in Duddy’s intervention between the IRA and the British government. The first item dates to 1975 as an initial cease fire was negotiated. Second, from 1980/81 marks a period when Duddy listed code words used during telephone conversations between the British Government, the IRA hungerstrikers in the Maze prison and the IRA council. The third represents a period of the early 1990’s when Duddy was again called upon as discussions focused on the Provisional IRA and Sir Peter Brooke, the new Secretary of State for Northern Ireland.
To view these documents in full from the Duddy Archive held at the James Hardiman Library, NUI Galway, please click here:
This video is an interview with Brendan Duddy discussing the role of an intermediary: 

For more on the Archives of James Hardiman Library, NUI Galway click here.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Looking back on "'Tis Pity She's a Whore"

Now on in Dublin’s Project Arts Centre is The Making of ‘Tis Pity She’s a Whore”, a reworking of the John Ford-written 17th century darkly thrilling drama. The original play, ‘Tis Pity She’s a Whore deals with the hidden and lustful desires of one man for his sister in the 17th century Italian city of Parma. This modern staging of the play places the action on a film set and works the themes of the original around this engaging twist which is being staged by Siren Productions and directed by the Irish Times Award-Winning director, Selina Cartmell.
The play itself certainly has a chequered and daring history, finding itself almost forgotten from the collected works of John Ford as early as the mid-17th century. Interestingly, the play received a full production from Druid Theatre from June to July 1985. Staged at Druid Lane Theatre in Galway and directed by Gary Hynes, the play featured a strong cast and featured the talents of Pat Leavy, Malcolm Douglas, Marie Mullen, Mairéad Noone, Ciaran Hinds, Maelíosa Stafford, Séan McGinley, Jane Brennan, Ray McBride and Darragh Kelly. 

The Druid Theatre Archive here in the James Hardiman Library, NUI Galway, holds a rich record of this production that includes programmes - which detail cast lists, headshots, productions credits and an article detailing thoughts on the play written by author John Banville - entitled "In the teeth of the whirlwind"; posters, photographs flyers, invitations, tickets and play posters. There are also many press reviews and articles from regional, local and national press. This unique collection of play records and ephemera is a fantastic research resource and provides an insight into how one of Ireland’s premier theatre companies staged a work over twenty-five years ago which has now found its place back on a major Irish stage.
The files T2/121 – 125 and T2/380 relate directly to this Druid production and their descriptions and details can be viewed on the Druid Archive online catalogue:

For more on the current production of The Making of ‘Tis Pity She’s a Whore by Siren Productions see