Story Of Ballymacandy Ambush Brought To The Stage

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Some of the members of the cast of ‘Ballymacandy’ during rehearsals this week: front l-r: Siobhán Collins (Annie Cronin), Claire O’Connor (Maggie Slattery), back l-r: Chris Horan (Commissioner Smyth), Jeremiah Murphy (Constable John Quirke), Muireann McAuliffe (Meriel Leeson Marshall), Michael Quirke (Jack Flynn), John Sexton (Denis Sugrue), Joe Horan (Totty O’Sullivan).

THE dramatic story of the IRA ambush of members of the Crown Forces near Milltown in 1921 is being presented as a new play in the local Community Hall this November.

‘Ballymacandy’ is based on the best-selling book by local historian and author Owen O’Shea and involves a cast of almost thirty locals, all of whom live near where five RIC and Black and Tans were killed on June 1, 1921, just six weeks before the end of Independence.

Tickets for the play, written by Owen O’Shea and directed by Mike O’Halloran, are now on sale and can be booked online at

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The play will run for five nights during the first two weeks of November on 3rd, 4th, 5th, 11th and 12th, all at 8.00pm.

“As with the book, the play attempts to portray these events from all of the different perspectives, those of the IRA and Cumann na mBan, the RIC and Black and Tans, as well as the perspectives of local civilians in Milltown and Castlemaine who were caught up in the events. The ambush involved IRA men from the locality as well as from Tralee, Castlegregory and Keel so we hope the play will have a wide appeal,” said Owen O’Shea.

“Rehearsals have been going now for months and the cast, most of whom have never been on stage before, have put an enormous amount of work into the preparations. They have really embraced the story and have been moved to portray events based on the evidence we have about what actually happened.”

Owen said that after the pandemic, there is also a great sense of excitement about a local community initiative which will bring people together again, in this case, to present our local history in a new way.

Among those killed in the ambush was RIC sergeant, James Collery, who lived in Milltown and left a wife and eight young children, and whose story is portrayed in the play. Also told is the story of the local IRA members like Jack Flynn and Dan Mulvihill and the members of Cumann na mBan, many of whom were on the receiving end of the violence of the rampaging Black and Tans.

“Writing the play was a challenge because these were real people and not fictional characters,” said Owen, “but thanks to the directing skills of Mike O’Halloran and the professionalism of such a great cast, I think we will do the story great justice.”

Tickets for Ballymacandy, priced just €15, are now on sale on and must be booked in advance for collection at the door on each night.

The play will run on Thursday 3rd, Friday 4th, Saturday 5th, Friday 11th and Saturday 12th November at the Muintir na Tíre Hall in Milltown. Doors at 7.00pm. Ticket collection by 7.30pm and show at 8.00pm.

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