Observe the Sons of Ulster Marching Towards the Somme

Frank McGuinness
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ISBN 9780571146116 Format Paperback
Published 28/07/1986 Length 80 pages

About Book

'This powerful and subtle play... follows the experience of eight men who volunteer to serve in the 36th (Ulster) Division at the beginning of the First World War. It reaches a climax at the start of the terrible battle of the Somme on July 1, 1916, the actual anniversary of the battle of the Boyne in 1690. The Somme, where the Ulster Division suffered heavy casualties, has, like the Boyne, come to have a sacred place in the Loyalist Protestant mind. It marks the Union sealed with blood. It stands for the ultimate test of Ulster's loyalty; a blood-sacrifice to match any made by Irish nationalists.' Times Literary Supplement

Observe the Sons of Ulster Marching Towards the Somme was revived by the Abbey Theatre, Dublin, in 1994 as part of an acknowledgement of the peace process. The production was subsequently taken to the Edinburgh Festival in 1995 and opened at the Royal Shakespeare Company's Barbican Theatre, London, in March 1996.

  • About Frank McGuinness

    Frank McGuinness was born in Buncrana, Co. Donegal, and now lives in Dublin and lectures in English at University College Dublin. His plays include: The Factory Girls (Abbey Theatre, Dublin, 1982), Baglady (Abbey, 1985), Observe the Sons of Ulster Marching Towards the Somme (Abbey, 1985; Hampstead Theatre, London, 1986), Innocence (Gate Theatre, Dublin, 1986), Carthaginians (Abbey, 1988; Hampstead, 1989), Mary and Lizzie (RSC, 1989), The Bread Man (Gate, 1991), Someone Who'll Watch Over Me (Hampstead, West End and Broadway, 1992), The Bird Sanctuary (Abbey, 1994), Mutabilitie (NT, 1997), Dolly West's Kitchen (Abbey, 1999; Old Vic, 2000), Gates of Gold (Gate, 2002), Speaking Like Magpies (Swan, Stratford, 2005), There Came a Gypsy Riding (Almeida, London, 2007), Greta Garbo Came to Donegal (Tricycle Theatre, London, 2010) and The Match Box (Liverpool Playhouse Studio, 2012).

    His widely performed versions include Ibsen's Rosmersholm (1987), Peer Gynt (1988), Hedda Gabler (1994), A Doll's House (1997), The Lady from the Sea (2008) and John Gabriel Borkman (2010); Chekhov's Three Sisters (1990) and Uncle Vanya (1995); Lorca's Yerma (1987); Brecht's The Threepenny Opera (1991) and The Caucasian Chalk Circle (1997); Sophocles' Electra (1998) and Oedipus (2008); Ostrovsky's The Storm (1998); Strindberg's Miss Julie (2000); Euripides' Hecuba (2004) and Helen (2009); Racine's Phaedra (2006) and Tirso de Molina's Damned by Despair (2012).

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