Wexford man wins accolades for his portrayal of Padraig Pearse

By David Tucker

Published 11/08/2015 | 00:00

ABOVE: John Greene, chairman of the Glasnevin Trust; Taoiseach Enda Kenny, Sabina Higgins, President Michael D Higgins and Wexford's Jim Roche; LEFT: Jim during the oration.
ABOVE: John Greene, chairman of the Glasnevin Trust; Taoiseach Enda Kenny, Sabina Higgins, President Michael D Higgins and Wexford's Jim Roche; LEFT: Jim during the oration.
ABOVE: John Greene, chairman of the Glasnevin Trust; Taoiseach Enda Kenny, Sabina Higgins, President Michael D Higgins and Wexford's Jim Roche; LEFT: Jim during the oration.

Wexford man Jim Roche said he had received an amazing reaction from within his home county and the wider world following his re-enactment of the immortal graveside oration delivered by Padraig Pearse at the funeral of Jeremiah O'Donovan Rossa during the first State occasion to mark the commemorations of the 1916 Rising.

President Michael D Higgins, Taoiseach Enda Kenny, Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht Heather Humphreys and the Lord Mayor of Dublin Criona Ní Dhálaigh were among more than 5,000 people at Glasnevin Cemetery for last week's the reactment of the funeral 100 years ago of the Fenian O'Donovan Rossa.

Pearse's impassioned oration was followed by the firing of three volleys of shots over the grave which some historians describe as the first of the 1916 Rising.

Jim, the son of Pauline and the late Paddy Roche, described the commemoration as 'absolutely smashing'.

'It was far bigger than I expected. I knew it would be a big State occasion but I thought it would be quieter somehow and didn't know it would get the attention it did,' Jim told this newspaper.

'It's great as a jobbing actor to get that kind of attention. I have been getting messages from all over the world, from Hong Kong, from New Jersey and Berlin.. from people looking in on the Internet who said that after listening to the speech they wanted to come home, they had been affected in ways they didn't expect,' he said, 'I was ridiculously nervous, but I felt a great connection to the people, a great resonance.'

Jim often takes on the role on Padraig Pearse during historic tours of Glasnevin, but said the commemoration was very different.

'It was an appropriate way to start the 1916 commemorations and it was amazing piece of writing, with a real passion to it with old school patriotism.. the key to it was to keep it under-stated.'

Jim said he had received many complimentary comments on what was a very polished performance, among them many from the people of Wexford who had known his father, who passed away 10 years ago, saying he would have been very proud of him.

'I've been living in Dublin for more than 20 years and I'm very proud to be from Wexford. It's nice to have a Wexford man doing that on such an occasion,' said Jim, whose acting roles have included parts in The Tudors, and Fair City.

He said his portrayal of an impassioned Pearse was not the biggest role he had played, but it was certainly the one that got the most attention.

O'Donovan Rossa died in hospital in New York on June 29, 1915, aged 83.

Wexford People

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