Ócáid Chomórtha | A Celebration of Máiréad Ní Ghráda

Wednesday 11 Mar 2015
1pm - 4pm
Project Arts Centre Cube

Cast of the original production of An Triail by Máiréad Ní Ghráda, An Damer, 1964. © Gael Linn

Production History


An Triail presented by Gael Linn/ An Club Drámaíochta, premiered to great acclaim at The Damer theatre during Dublin Theatre Festival, 1964. Caitlín Maude initially played the role of Máire but due to illness, was forced to step down and the part was taken over by Fionnula Flanagan. Praised by the Sunday Times theatre critic, Harold Hobson, the play succeeded in introducing Irish language drama to new audiences: 
He comments on the packed house at the Damer and the high proportion of young people in the audience. Special praise is given to Co. Galway – born Caitlín Maude, who played an unmarried mother, and to producer Tomás Mac Anna. (Irish Newspaper Archives, Irish Press, 04.12.1964)

An Triail premiered alongside Eugene McCabe's King of the Castle and Brian Friel's Philadelphia, Here I Come! in the 1964 festival and Máiréad has been praised for "the same willingness to tackle hitherto taboo subjects evident in English-language counterparts." (Christopher Morash, A History of Irish Theatre 1601-2000 p.228) 

Shortly after the first production the play was translated into English by the author. It again featured Fionnuala Flanagan in the leading role. On Trial was produced by Phyllis Ryan (Gemini Productions) at The Eblana theatre in March 1965:
An agreement was reached yesterday between Máiréad Ní Ghráda and Phyllis Ryan when the author assured Miss Ryan that she would present her with a translated script shortly. Miss Ryan said that she would stage the play shortly after Christmas (...) “I shall, if possible, have the same director who staged it in the Damer Hall”, she said. “Tomás Mac Anna did a wonderful job on that small stage and I shall ask him to handle the English version. I consider this play so good, and so timely, that the language barrier, though it’s being slowly surmounted by many eager people now, should not prevent all the public from having an opportunity of seeing it. It is a moving play, intensely human, at time heart-rending. It must be seen again. Having read a report of it in the Irish Times, I went to the Damer. The theme transcended the language of which I knew too little. Do you know that that play has set me learning Irish?”  (Irish Times, 03.10.964)

An Triail
was filmed for RTÉ in a production by Michael Garvey and was entered into the 1965 Berlin Television Festival:

(Máiréad Ní Ghráda) leaves Dublin by air on June 17 for Berlin where the festival is being held June 18-23. “The play has done astonishingly well here in Ireland but in the television festival it is going to have stiff competition from other European countries”, she said. The English version meanwhile continues to pack the Eblana every night and no date has yet been fixed as to when it will finish. (Irish Press, 24.05.1965, Irish Newspaper Archives)

In 1965, Fionnula Flanagan won a Jacob’s TV Award for her portrayal of Máire in the television version.

In 1968, Taibhdearc na Gaillimhe staged An Triail in Galway and subsequently toured to the Peacock Theatre, Dublin. The cast featured Síle Ní Chonaill as Máire Ní Chathasaigh and Máire Stafford as Bean Uí Chathasaigh. Full production details can be viewed here.
Speaking at the reception afterwards in The Abbey for the cast and guests, Máiréad Ní Ghráda congratulated the cast and especially director Frank Bailey for an excellent production of the play, and said she could not ask for better. (“Taibhdhearc Players Feted in Dublin”, Cartlann na Taibhdhearca)*. 


On Trial, produced by Gemini, was praised as the "festival finest offering" in Limerick's Festival of Irish Theatre, 1970. It featured Dearbhla Molloy as Maura Cassidy, next to Maureen Toal, Anna Manahan, Arthur O’Sullivan, Geoffrey Golden and Helen Robinson:
There have been many fine productions in the Festival of Irish Theatre currently being staged at the City Theatre, but this week’s presentation of Máiréad Ní Ghráda's “On Triail” offers the best in theatrical entertainment, and is drawing capacity audiences. (Limerick Leader, 15.08.1970)



An extract from On Trial was read as part of Glasshouse Productions' festival, Acts and React: a Festival of Drama & Dialogue - There are no Women Playwrights 2, in 1994. The extract was compiled by Caroline Williams, directed by Katy Hayes and performed by Sian Quill, Clare Dowling and Eugene O'Brien

In 1998, Amharclann de hÍde staged An Triail in The Crypt, Dublin Castle. Directed by the Artistic Director Bríd Ó Gallchoir and featuring Lesley Conroy, Ann Marie Horan, Brid McCarthy, Darach Mac Con Iomaire, Niall O Sioradáin and Seán O Tarpaigh, it toured to five regional venues in 1999:

The play caused a lot of controversy when it premiered at the Damer Theatre in September, 1964, as part of Dublin Theatre Festival. Thirty-five years later, the dilemmas faced by Máire in An Triail still resonate for contemporary Irish society.Amharclann de hÍde’s production present a minimalist set and an aesthetic inspired by expressionism and the work of Tadeusz Kantor. Director Bríd O Gallchoir imbues this political drama with a 1930s ambience of film noir to highlight, in a stark stylised way, the issues at the core of the play. (Southern Star 17.04.1999)



Since 2004, Aisling Ghéar have toured the country with numerous stage productions of An Triail. To date, their various productions, catering specifically for secondary school audiences, have been directed by Niall Ó Sioradáin, Bairbre Ní Chaoimh, Joan Sheehy, Seamús Ó Aodha and Bríd Ó Gallchoir. Some of the actors who have worked with Aisling Ghéar on An Triail include Nuala Ní Neill, Cillian Ó Donnachadh, John Burke, Noni Stapleton, Tony Devlin, Norette Leahy, Bríd McCarthy, Mary Louise McCarthy, Cillian Ó Gairbhi, Malachy McKenna, Donal Mac Giolla Chóill, Gina Costigan, JD Kelleher, Myles Breen, Dorothy Cotter, Domhnall O Dongohue, Bairbre Ní Chaoimh, Michael Wallace, Kelly Shatter, Rossa Sheridan, Liz Fitzgibbon, Jamie Hallahan, Mary Ryan, Piaras Donnelly, Susie Lamb, Mary Conroy, Tim Creed, Shaun Dunne, Lesley Conroy, Bríd Ó Gallchoir and Karen Ardiff.

Fíbín have been touring An Triail almost every year since 2007. Their unique version of the play features four actors using a variety of puppets and masks to portray the numerous characters in the play. Production team included: Brendan Murray, Pete Nelson, John Comiskey, Sean O' Cearbhuil, Pete Ray, Matthew Guinnane and Blánaid Ní Nuanáin. Cast included: Eoin Mac Diarmada, Ray Cudihay, Cliona De Brí, Bridin Ni Mhaoldomhnaigh and Clíona Ní Chiosáin.