Jimmy Murphy’s compelling new play The Chief reveals the man behind the iconic historical figure of Michael Collins. Set against the backdrop of the Irish Civil War, it focuses on the problems facing Collins and the Free State Government as they attempt to build a new Ireland and overcome the vicious divide brought about by the Treaty.
When I supported the approval of the Treaty, I said it gave us freedom, not the ultimate freedom which all nations hope and struggle for, but freedom to achieve freedom. And I was, and am now, fully alive to the implications of that statement.
Michael Collins, Paths to Freedom, August 1922.
The play explores Collins’s intimate relationship with Kitty Kiernan, his dream for a united Ireland and his guilt at taking arms against former comrades. It reflects on the new Ireland that he imagined, alongside the tragic fate that Kitty Kiernan feared would soon overtake him.
The Chief marks the centenary of Michael Collins’s death in August 1922 and speaks directly to the Ireland of today. It appears just when the enduring question “will Ireland ever be united?” has moved to centre stage in Irish political discourse.
Set and Lighting Design by Ciaran Bagnall
Music and Sound by Carl Kennedy