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Shell Corrib protest man bags Edinburgh Fringe Festival award


Irish actor and writer Donal O'Kelly has scored a notable success with his one-man show, Fionnuala – a play based around to Corrib gasline controversy – winning a coveted Fringe First award at Edinburgh. Each year, Scotsman critics choose plays they feel are of a particularly high standard to receive the awards.

Donal recently peforming Fionnuala outside Shell's compound in Aughoose

Speaking to Hot Press shortly after receiving the gong, O'Kelly describes the recognition as “very validating. It makes it much easier to get people to come and see the show, and it opens up new publicity angles about the issue itself. That's why I brought the play here, to try and bring international attention to the Shell Corrib gas project.”

O'Kelly first visited the Shell project in 2007 to get a better understanding of the issue, and eventually wrote Fionnuala at the end of last year. Based around an incident last year in which a Shell tunnel boring machine, called Fionnuala, sank into a Mayo bog, the play tells the story of a Shell PR executive, called Ambrose Keogh, who is summoned to a midnight court in a fairy fort by Fionnuala of the Children of Lir. Fionnuala puts on a spell on Keogh, who has to tell the truth about Shell's activities, or else he'll be turned into a frog (for which 'Keogh' is the Irish word).

“It was an extremely brass neck act for Shell to name a machine for their project after a mythical figure from local folklore,” says O'Kelly. “During the play, in the course of telling the truth, Ambrose Keogh tells about an attack that took place on Willie Corduff in the Shell site in Glengad, County Mayo. So if you like, the reason I'm doing this play is to ask the question, who assaulted Willie Corduff in April 2009?”

O'Kelly actually has a second show at the Fringe, Skeffy (about the murdered Irish pacifist Francis Sheehy Skeffington), and he is performing each play on alternate nights at the Hill Street Solo Theatre, Edinburgh until August 25.

“I'll be doing Fionnuala at the Imagine Festival in Waterford at the end of October,” says O'Kelly. “I actually did it a few weeks ago for the Shell security cameras outside the site in Rossport – I asked for them to be turned on so that Shell and their security firm know the content. They haven't given a response that I know of yet. So I'll keep doing it.”


Posted Date: 
10 August 2013