Chronicles of Long Kesh
© By Martin Lynch
Freddie The Prison Officer (screw) has served at Long Kesh for almost the entire time it was there. He is a good man who has tried to earn his living as a Prison Officer, do right by the prisoners and bring up his family to be good decent people. Things don’t work out however and one incident on the wings changes his life forever. We hear Freddie’s story. Freddie also doubles as our narrator, giving us insights into the inner-workings of the camp and the personalities that inhabit it.
These include Eamon, the plumber, night-school teacher and IRA handyman whose life is utterly changed when he has to decide whether to put his name down for hunger-strike; Hank, a long-term Loyalist prisoner, with a penchant for philosophy and the music of Bob Dylan who decides that he no longer supports violence though he still has 14 years of his sentence left to do. Then there is Oscar, a Smokey Robinson-loving undertaker from Derry who was the greatest cross-border guns-smuggler the IRA had ever had. He is devastated when he finally realises he will never have a proper relationship with a woman if he stays in the IRA.
Eamon: I’m not talkin’ about that. I’m talkin’ about m’wife. The kids. I have done a terrible thing to them.
Oscar: Ack, we’ll be outta here in no time. Stick with me Jennings and I’ll have ye over that wire before Christmas.
Eamon: I couldn’t care less about escapin’ I’m more concerned about how I’m ever gonna pay back my wife.
Oscar: Shite. The women and childer can wait. We have to get the Brits outta Ireland first.
By kind permission Martin Lynch
The Maze Prison at Long Kesh housed most of the paramilitary prisoners through the span of the Troubles. This play invites us to understand those prisoners through their human experience of confinement rather than through their political attitudes.
Waterfront Hall Studio, January 2009
YEAR SET1971 onwards
The Waterfront Hall Studio, Belfast 2009
Assembly Hall, Edinburgh (Edinburgh Festival) 2009
‘At times soul-revue, but mainly historical docu-drama, Martin Lynch’s latest opus, Chronicles of Long Kesh, is a strangely affecting theatrical hybrid. Using contemporary pop songs of the 60s and 70s to cut-up the dramatic narrative, Lynch’s play explores one of the darkest and most divisive periods of our shared past.’ (Joseph Nawaz - Culture Northern Ireland)
This is a show that turns politics into popular theatre, and although the rights and wrongs (and a great deal of the complexity) get lost along the way, the humanity of those involved does not. (Lyn Gardner - Guardian)