02 Dec 2021

Seán McGinley to star in The Enemy Within at An Grianán for Colmcille 1500

Seán McGinley to star in The Enemy Within at An Grianán for Colmcille 1500

Brian Friel

An Grianán Theatre embarks on its most ambitious production to date with a full professional production of Brian Friel’s The Enemy Within starring Donegal native Seán McGinley in the lead role. The Columba/Colmcille production will be one of the key events in the Colmcille 1500, which celebrates the life and legacy of Colmcille 1500 years from his birth.

A major early work by Friel, who made Donegal his home, The Enemy Within examines a period in the life of Colmcille as a mature man, having worked in his ministry for many years and settled in his monastery in Iona yet still subject to the demands of his turbulent family clan in Donegal. The action takes place in Columba's room or cell, in the Autumn of 587, on the island of Iona, off the West coast of Scotland.

Directed by fellow Donegal native Caitríona McLaughlin, the newly announced Artistic Director of the Abbey Theatre, the production will be live in An Grianán, and also available to watch as a digital production. The stellar cast also includes Liam Carney, Bosco Hogan, Ciaran McGlynn, Charlie Bonner, Sean Donegan, Francis Harkin, Ronan Carr, Jack Quinn and Aidan Moriarty. 

“This is a beautiful play and I am thrilled at the prospect of getting to direct my first Brian Friel play at home,” said Caitríona McLaughlin. “It feels very special and important both personally and thematically. The themes of exile are all too familiar, just now, and the notion of battling conflicting thoughts, impulses or loyalties is a large part of the human condition, and particularly in Ireland. This forced time of reflection through Covid has had an impact on all of us and this opportunity for an exploration of that part of the human psyche feels timely and valuable right now. Plus of course we get to do this production as part of a countrywide celebration of St. Columba and 1500 years since his birth. A singular figure who has the kind of passion, drive and commitment we see today in the tenacity of our artists and sports heroes.”

Brian Friel was one of Ireland’s greatest ever playwrights. Born in Omagh and educated at St Columb’s College, Derry, and St Patrick’s College, Maynooth, where he studied for a career in the priesthood. Instead of going into the church he followed his father’s example into teaching, working at schools in and around Derry in the 1950s.

In 1967, he moved to Donegal, where he lived, with his wife Anne, until his death in October 2015. His first stage success was in 1964 with Philadelphia, Here I Come! and his plays since then include The Freedom of the City (1973), Volunteers(1975), Translations (1980) Dancing at Lughnasa (1990) and Molly Sweeney (1994). Translations  was also the first production for the important and influential Field Day theatre company, which Friel founded with the actor Stephen Rea.

Also widely known as St. Columba, Colmcille was born on December 7, 521 in Gartan.  A Christian Abbot and Missionary, he is renowned for the spread of Christianity to Scotland, and the founding of the famous monastery on Iona. He was a great great grandson of Niall of the Nine Hostages, the High king of Ireland. He is the patron saint of Derry, Ulster, Scotland and one of the three patron saints of Ireland.

To book and for further details go to www. or call 074 91 20777. 

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