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‘Insurrection’ was the centre piece of RTÉ television’s commemoration of the 50th anniversary of the Rising. Broadcast over eight consecutive nights in 1966 the production was the most ambitious project undertaken by the then five year old Telefís Éireann (now RTÉ). As well as creating dramatic reconstructions of the main incidents and battles of Easter Week 1916 Insurrection would tell the story of the Rising as if television had existed.

Hugh Leonard was tasked with writing the script for ‘Insurrection’ and was under no illusion to the challenge that faced him he wrote in the RTV Guide,

It was as if one had been brought face to face with a nightmarish examination paper. Write a four hour television play (in eight 30 minute ‘acts’) about the 1916 Rising; all characters, locales and events to be strictly factual use the actual words spoken, wherever these words have been documented.

RTÉ had never attempted a drama on this scale previously and filming took place on location in Dublin and on set. Producer and directed by Louis Lentin with the assistance of director Michael Garvey Insurrection had a cast featuring some of Ireland’s finest actors Among them Ray McAnally (Presenter), Eoin O’Suilleabhain as (Patrick Pearse) Jim Norton (Tom Clarke) Eddie Golden (Eoin Mac Neill)  Declan Harvey (Joseph Plunkett) Kevin Flood (The O’Rahilly) Ronnie Walsh (James Connolly) Joan O’Hara (Countess Markievicz) and Eithne Lydon (Miss Carney). Alongside the professional actors members of the Defence Forces were used to recreate the major battles scenes.

An RTÉ television studio was transformed into the interior of the General Post Office and was set on fire to depict the final moments before the Rebels abandoned the building.

Available on RTÉ Player now


Abbey Theatre, An Garda Siochana, Association of Professional Genealogists Ireland, Band of An Garda Siochana, Buswells Hotel, Capuchin Friary, Century Ireland, Cobblestone, Conradh na Gaeilge, Dubray Books Grafton Street, Dublin Fire Brigade Pipe Band, Dublin Institute of Technology, Eason’s O’Connell Street, Gallery of Photography. Garda Historical Society, Generator Hostel, Glasnevin Trust, Grafton Barbers, Hodges Figgis Dawson Street, Irish Film Archive, Irish Veteran & Vintage Car Club. John Shevlin Millinery, Little Museum of Dublin, Louis Copeland & Sons, Manning's Bakery, Massey Funeral Directors, Maynooth University, Merrion Square Artists Association, National College of Art and Design, National Library of Ireland, National Museum at Collins Barracks, National Transport Museum of Ireland, NUI Galway, Poetry Ireland, Queen's University Belfast, Royal College of Physicians in Ireland, Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland, Royal Dublin Fusiliers Association, Royal Hibernian Academy, St Michan's Church of Ireland Parish, St Michan's Roman Catholic Parish, St Vincent de Paul, SIPTU, The Four Courts, Trinity College Dublin, University College Cork, University College Dublin, University of Limerick, University of Ulster, Whyte’s Irish Art & Collectables, National Print Museum, Irish Guild of Weavers Spinners & Dyers, ICA, Feltmakers Ireland, Irish Woodturners Guild, Doran Barber Shop The Pram Doctor, The Merrion Square Artists Association, The Dice Bar, Third Space, The Family Resource Centre St. Michael’s Estate, Brown Bag Films, The Stoneybatter and Smithfield People’s History Project, The Revenue Museum,

RTÉ would like to gratefully acknowledge the support and participation of the individual speakers who were kind enough to share their research and private collections with the public as part of the RTÉ Reflecting the Rising project. A big thanks also to the many volunteers and actors who gave their time so generously to help make RTÉ Reflecting the Rising a memorable and successful day.

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