The Abbey Theatre has commissioned writers from Ireland, with unique additional contributions from the USA, China and Italy, to each write a monologue to be performed online by the cream of Irish acting talent. 

Dear Ireland will be held online from Tuesday 28 April to Friday 1 May, and will be streamed live on RTÉ Culture. Below, the Co-Director of the Abbey, Graham McLaren, introduces the project.

Sunday morning 15 March 2020, was scheduled to be the morning after the last night of The Fall Of The Second Republic, the Abbey Theatre's co-production with The Corn Exchange.

That last night came a lot sooner than anyone could have imagined, as mid-week, following Government guidance and the restrictions put in place to help prevent the spread of Covid-19, we closed down the Abbey Theatre.

That morning felt like no other Sunday.

Ireland’s national theatre was closed until further notice.

That morning was, for me, consumed by two questions.

How can the Abbey Theatre support the theatre community right now?

How can the Abbey  Theatre capture this moment in our history?

I sent a text to Neil Murray (Co-Director of the Abbey Theatre), who came over to my house and we started planning.

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We felt that we could best support the artists by acting fast, because everything was closing down around us in the theatre community.

We wanted to inspire Ireland’s artists and, perhaps most importantly, pay them to help us capture this historical moment. 

A quick responsive message to the Nation: Invite 100 diverse and interesting artists to work on rapid response monologues written and recorded in self-isolation.

Nicola Coughlan is one of the actors participating in Dear Ireland

It was important to us that we commission writers from different backgrounds, people at different stages of career, genders etc. reflecting the diverse society that is united in these trying times.

We were asking a lot of the artists involved.

Some write films. For others, this may be their first foray into writing for screens.

Some will have been comfortable setting up a camera self-tape in their bedrooms, as they are used to doing it for auditions. Others won’t. 

Listen: Contributor Frank McGuinness talks Dear Ireland on RTÉ Arena

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All were and are dealing with the stresses and surrounds of pandemic and we want to offer our sincere thanks to them for agreeing to participate in this experiment.

The aim was to create a choir of voices and ideas with no one artist feeling the individual responsibility to draw down the heavens and crystallise the nation's hopes and fears, but instead our community of theatre-makers would go some way towards that.

Despite being apart we could come together to capture something.

And we have, despite the extraordinary challenges faced by the theatre-makers, the New Work and the Communications teams at the Abbey, a poignant, angry, often funny, sometimes absurd portrait of Ireland in this unique moment in our history has emerged.

Dear Ireland will be screened in four parts at 7.30pm from Tuesday 28 April to Friday 1 May on the Abbey Theatre's YouTube channel, and via RTÉ Culture.

Dear Ireland - The Participants

The writers involved are as follows:

  • Blindboy
  • Dermot Bolger
  • Pom Boyd
  • Sinéad Burke
  • TKB (Thommas Kane Byrne)
  • Dylan Coburn Gray
  • Karen Cogan
  • John Connors
  • Kit de Waal
  • Shaun Dunne
  • Iseult Golden
  • Stacey Gregg
  • Sarah Hanly
  • Nancy Harris
  • David Ireland
  • Colm Keegan
  • Sonya Kelly
  • Deirdre Kinahan
  • Emmet Kirwan
  • Darach Mac Con Iomaire
  • Manchán Magan
  • Aoife Martyn
  • Owen McCafferty
  • Rosaleen McDonagh
  • Frank McGuinness
  • Meadhbh McHugh (New York)
  • Una McKevitt
  • Phillip McMahon
  • Andrea Molino (Italy)
  • Gina Moxley
  • Jimmy Murphy
  • Zoe Ní Riordáin
  • Edna O'Brien
  • Eva O’Connor
  • Joseph O’Connor
  • John O’Donovan
  • Mark O’Halloran
  • Jody O’Neill
  • Shane O’Reilly
  • Felicia 'Felispeaks' Olusanya
  • Margaret Perry
  • Ursula Rani Sarma
  • Arthur Riordan
  • Ciara Elizabeth Smyth
  • Abbie Spallen
  • Keith James Walker
  • Enda Walsh
  • Michael West
  • Carmel Winters
  • Zhu Yi (China)

Actors involved in the project are 

  • Cathy Belton
  • Andrew Bennett
  • Dawn Bradfield
  • Amanda Coogan
  • Nicola Coughlan
  • Tim Creed
  • Bríd Criomhthain
  • Zara Devlin
  • Mark Doherty
  • Deirdre Donnelly
  • Mike Donnelly
  • Ashleigh Dorrell
  • Caoilfhionn Dunne
  • Clare Dunne
  • Graham Earley
  • Sorcha Fox
  • Eva-Jane Gaffney
  • Denise Gough
  • Brendan Gleeson
  • Peter Gowen
  • Julia Gu
  • Breffni Holahan
  • Seána Kerslake
  • Katherine Lynch
  • Conor MacNeill
  • Amy McAllister
  • Owen McDonnell
  • Lucianne McEvoy
  • Abigail McGibbon
  • Siobhán McSweeney
  • Leah Minto
  • Deirdre Molloy
  • David Moss
  • Marie Mullen
  • Bríd Ní Neachtain
  • Rory Nolan
  • Eoin O Dubhghaill
  • Kathy Rose O'Brien
  • Marion O’Dwyer
  • Jolene O’Hara
  • Patrick O’Kane
  • Clare O'Malley
  • Marty Rea
  • Ericka Roe
  • Owen Roe
  • Camille Lucy Ross
  • Norma Sheahan
  • Joan Sheehy
  • Stanley Townsend
  • Eleanor Walsh