Larry Kirwan play on stage off-Broadway
A play written by the Wexford-born musician and writer Larry Kirwan, pictured left, about the historic clash between the Irish government and the Catholic church over the Mother and Child Scheme over 65 years ago, will open on a New York stage in April.
'Rebel in the Soul' will be presented by Irish Repertory Theatre and directed by the company's Artistic Director Charlotte Moore.
The play dramatises an extraordinary episode in Irish history when the former Minister for Health Noel Browne tried to introduce free maternity healthcare for mothers and children but met with fierce opposition from Archbishop John Charles McQuaid who saw the scheme as immoral, especially the plan to discuss family planning with women.
Kirwan who is best known as former frontman of the Celtic rock band Black 47, said anyone of a progressive nature from Ireland looked up to Noel Browne. 'My mother loved him. She always said Noel Browne was the only politician in Irland who cared about women'.
The play will run off-Broadway for six weeks and will also feature the characters of Seán McBride, leader of Clann na Poblachta, the party to which Browne belonged, and his wife Phyllis. The action is set over one day in April 1951 after Browne's Mother and Child Scheme was defeated and he was forced to resign from the Dail. He was re-elected as an Independent TD before joning Fianna Fáil, founding the National Progressive Democrats and ultimately joining the Labour Party. One of Browne's daughters saw a read-through of the play and gave it her blessing.
Kirwan said he was sympathetic to all the figures involved in the controversy. 'I'm pretty sympathetic to all of them. Each was in a bind, there's no two ways about it. It's looking at it from a humane perspective.