'The Liberty Suit' is a play written by Peter Sheridan in collaboration with 20 year old Mannix Flynn who is 18 months out of prison.
Mannix Flynn is an actor who has spent much of his childhood and teenage years in various institutions. Now ‘The Liberty Suit’ is in rehearsal with actors Tom Jordan, Gabriel Byrne, Gerard McSorley and Peter Caffrey.
Inspiration for the characters in the play come from a diverse mix of people Mannix Fynn met while in prison. Early personal experiences form the social and cultural background from which the play emerges.
Reared in the inner city, one of a family of fifteen, opportunities were scarce.
Growing up in York Street, when I was a kid…like every other kid, wants to play around, you know? I mean, in our area, there was no facilities to play around, so the only playground I had was Grafton Street or Georges Street…the only thing to play with was the shops. So therefore you end up robbin’…
Mannix Flynn was sent to Letterfrack Industrial School in County Galway, and then in 1973 went into Saint Patrick's Institution for Young Offenders. Placed in solitary confinement following an incident, and at his lowest ebb, he realised what he wanted to do was to perform, entertain people, and write.
Actors would come into the prison to put on plays for the prisoners, but at that time, facilities for prisoners to develop their writing and acting interests were few and far between. He started writing his own sketches, and performed to acclaim at prison concerts.
Actor Peter Caffrey recalls performing in a pantomime in Saint Patrick’s and his first encounter with Mannix Flynn.
When I appeared on the stage this huge roar went up from this gang in the audience, and there was one fella in particular who was heckling all the time, so I was throwing back the standard anti-heckler jokes and lines, and I couldn’t get the better of him, this guy was being funnier than me, and I didn’t like that at all…afterwards I asked to be introduced to the fella, and it was Mannix himself.
Sometime later, a chance encounter between Peter Caffrey and Mannix Flynn on a Dublin street led to theatre work and eventually a small part for Mannix in Jim Sheridan’s play ‘Mobile Homes’ for the Dublin Theatre Festival,
I had to go on the stage and say a few words and throw a few bricks…the next morning the reviews came out, and I was very surprised because I didn’t believe it, because it was such a small part, that I got a good review.
Following that Mannix got more work in theatre, and in 1978 he appeared in the RTÉ drama series ‘The Spike’.
This episode of ‘P.M.’ was broadcast on 28 September 1977. The reporter is Áine O'Connor .
‘P.M.’ was a magazine series reporting on aspects of Irish life with interludes for music from Irish performers. The series first began on Tuesday, 20 September, 1977 and was initially aired three nights a week on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday at 7.00pm on RTÉ 1. The original presenters John O'Donoghue, Áine O'Connor, Nicholas Coffey and Doireann Ní Bhriain were later joined by Pat Kenny. "As editor Noel Smyth sees it, the Tuesday programme will consist mainly of film reports on topical events anywhere in Ireland, the Wednesday edition will concentrate on studio discussions, and the Thursday programme will be in Irish, with just as wide a brief as the other two." (RTÉ Guide, 16 September 1977, Vol.1, No.37, p.18)
‘P.M.’ ran until Thursday, 12 April, 1979.