‘It’s a wonderful sobering production, terrifically directed’ E O’Kelly/Sunday Independent
In the late 1930’s Bernard Carroll, a young Dubliner traumatised by his childhood memories of the War of Independence, joins the IRA. In this era the IRA is a hotbed of left-wing politics, and considers itself a legitimate army – military targets only. For many revolutionaries, the IRA is their only hope to overthrow the ‘fascist’ Irish government and establish a utopian socialist Republic.
But with the outbreak of WW2, the Irish government introduces internment without trial for all suspected IRA members, and Bernard is swept up with hundreds of others and held in a ramshackle internment camp on the
plains of the Curragh. The camp is packed with left-wing revolutionaries, civil war veterans, and republicans, all held without trial. There’s one catch – they can leave any time they want, provided they are willing to renounce violence and take an oath of loyalty to the Irish government. They stay.
The men have learned from years of being interned by the British crown, and they are determined to turn the camp into a training facility – not for soldiers, but for intellectuals. They study politics, history, radical leftwing thought; they learn Russian in the expectation that it is the language of the future. Bernard learns, and grows, developing a keen eye for the absurdities of camp life. Liverpudlians with fluent Irish, Nazis with special privileges, old men interned by every British and Irish government for forty years, campmates desperate to discuss Mein Kampf with the Luftwaffe across the fence. Bernard gets involved with an effort to tunnel out of the camp.
As it gets colder, and things get harder, he remembers his Uncle Paddy, who fought fascism in Spain and on the streets of Dublin; and he hears the songs and stories of the older republicans telling him that he must resist, that he cannot give in.
And then the IRA leadership arrive in the camp, and things change....