This essay explores the extent to which some of the political upheavals of twentieth-century Ireland, and their related theatrical manifestations, might reveal a series of affinities with the organised political radicalism of nineteenth- century England. Specifically, the playhouse dramas written by the executed leader of the Easter Rising of 1916, Pádraic Pearse (also known as Pádraig or Patrick) point back to the earlier Liberal reform meetings that took place in the English midlands. The key connecting figure is the revolutionary leader’s father, James Pearse, who spent his life between Birmingham and Dublin, but who has tended to be overlooked by historians in the years since 1916.

This paper will explore the way that throughout the twentieth-century a focus on Pádraic Pearse’s mother has tended to obscure the influence of James Pearse. Yet I suggest that James—influenced by Liberal thinkers such as the MP John Bright—helped to link one kind of waning English radicalism with the developing nationalism of twentieth-century Ireland. It is in this context that my paper explores the political implications of Patrick Pearse’s theatrical writings, The King, The Master and The Singer, tracing connections between these plays and the Birmingham radicalism of James Pearse, with a particular focus on James’s nonconformist reformism and day-to-day involvement with the Catholic pomp of the Hardman church-furnishing company.


Ireland, nationalism, Pearse biography, radical theatre

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Kritika Kultura
Department of English
School of Humanities
Ateneo de Manila University

The Philippine Commission on Higher Education (CHED) declares Kritika Kultura as a CHED-recognized journal under the Journal Challenge Category of its Journal Incentive Program.

International Board of Editors

Jan Baetens
Faculty of Arts
Katholieke Universiteit te Leuven (Belgium)

Joel David
Professor of Cultural Studies
Inha University (South Korea)

Michael Denning
Professor of American Studies and English
Department of English
Yale University (US)

Faculty of Cultural Sciences
Universitas Gadjah Mada (Indonesia)

Regenia Gagnier
Professor of English
University of Exeter (UK)

Leela Gandhi
John Hawkes Professor of the Humanities and English
Brown University (US)

Inderpal Grewal
Professor of Women's Gender and Sexuality Studies
Professor of South Asian Studies, Ethnicity, Race and Migration Studies
Yale University (US)

Peter Horn
Professor Emeritus and Honorary Lifetime Fellow
University of Cape Town (South Africa)
Honorary Professor and Research Associate in German Studies
University of the Witwatersrand (South Africa)

Anette Horn
Professor of German Studies
University of the Witwatersrand (South Africa)

David Lloyd
Distinguished Professor of English
University of California, Riverside (US)

Bienvenido Lumbera
National Artist for Literature
Professor Emeritus
University of the Philippines

Rajeev S. Patke
Director of the Division of Humanities
Professor of Humanities
Yale NUS College (Singapore)

Vicente L. Rafael
Giovanni and Amne Costigan Endowed Professor of History
University of Washington (US)

Vaidehi Ramanathan
Department of Linguistics
University of California, Davis (US)

Temario Rivera
Professorial Lecturer
Department of Political Science
University of the Philippines

E. San Juan, Jr.
Philippines Studies Center (US)

Neferti X.M. Tadiar
Professor of Women’s, Gender, & Sexuality Studies
Barnard College (US)
Director of the Center for the Study of Ethnicity and Race
Columbia University (US)

Antony Tatlow
Honorary Professor of Drama
Trinity College Dublin (Ireland)