This PBS production of I AM IRELAND, was inspired by Mise Éire, a feature length film produced by George Morrison in 1959. The film is based on the poem by Padraic Pearse who wrote the 1916 Proclamation of the Republic.
The smash hit film was presented by Irish Language Organization Gael-Linn and used archival film footage to present the story of Ireland’s fight for independence through the 1916 Easter Rising. It showcased original compositions of Seán Ó Riada whose arrangement of the 16th century traditional Irish song Róisín Dubh, (My Dark Rosaleen) is used to introduce this PBS production of I AM IRELAND. The song itself became an icon of 1916, of Irish music, of Irish history, and of Irish identity.
Ó Riada, often referred to as Ireland’s first national composer- or as I like to call him - the George Gershwin of Irish music, sought to bring Irish music into a concert setting. Through the stirring musical score of the Mise Éire documentary, O’ Riada galvanized a nation together when at a moment in history when it needed ‘pepping up’ .
As I delved more into my research for this show, I began to imagine each story, speech and song as representative of a unique emotional expression of Ireland at the time - these days people might call that a tweet! We hope this PBS pandemic version of the I AM IRELAND show will also offer a message of hope to people wishing to get through life, and of perseverance.
The iconic meaning to I AM IRELAND lies in the nationalistic poem, Mise Éire, of Padraig Pearse- who personifies Ireland as an old woman and who has been sold by her children, to her great shame.