Blood Upon The Rose

12 August 2019

Fourth year BEd Irish student at St Mary’s, Daniel Donnelly, is currently playing the role of Joseph Plunkett in the original musical, “Blood Upon The Rose” which comes to the Grand Opera House in September 2019.

Daniel shares his thoughts his exciting new role:

“'Blood Upon the Rose' tells the tragic love story of Grace Gifford and Joseph Plunkett set against the backdrop of the 1916 Easter Rising in Dublin. Their courtship, marriage and his subsequent execution are brought to the stage in this compelling musical drama written and directed by retired teacher, Gerry Cunningham of ‘More Power To Your Elbow’ fame. Plunkett’s marriage to Grace in a dark candle-lit chapel the night before his execution touched the hearts of a nation and inspired the iconic Frank and Sean O’Meara’s song ‘Grace’, which is featured in the show.

I was approached by Gerry Cunningham almost three years ago, as he was writing a new musical based on the love story of Joseph Plunkett and Grace Gifford. He very kindly asked if I would be interested in playing the lead role of Joseph Plunkett, to which I very excitedly agreed! We began rehearsing in 2016 in preparation for what was only supposed to be a weekend-long run in the Burnavon Theatre, Cookstown. From there it has been what I can only describe as a whirlwind experience! The show had such an impact on the audience, and it was clear we all were a part of something very special. Following on from Cookstown, we played a sold-out weekend of shows in the Marketplace Theatre, Armagh, the Waterfront Hall, Belfast, the Millennium Forum, Derry, An Táin Theatre, Dundalk and the Armadillo Theatre, Glasgow.

The response to the show has been nothing short of amazing and I have thoroughly enjoyed every single experience and opportunity the show has provided me with. This year, we have embarked on our biggest leg of the tour yet. In March, we played to an audience of three thousand people in the Apollo Theatre, London, two sell-out shows in the Scottish Event Campus (SEC) Armadillo, Glasgow and most recently, two sell-out performances in the Olympia Theatre, Dublin. There we were joined by superstar audience members, Rod Stewart, Penny Lancaster, Frances Black and Mary-Lou McDonald. Truly the stuff of dreams!

A personal highlight has to be performing live at the Apollo in London, with my entire family in the audience, which was undoubtedly one of my proudest moments to date. I have also had the pleasure of meeting with the relatives of the 1916 leaders, Honor O’Brolchain, grand-niece of Joseph Plunkett, and James Connolly Heron, great-grandson of James Connolly. That was truly an experience in itself. The next stop on our tour brings us to the Grand Opera House, Belfast, where we will perform four shows which sold out in less than one week. As for next year, who knows where we may turn up!

One thing I have learned this far is that no dream is impossible...”

Meeting Frances Black in Dublin

Taking the famous Apollo stage

Some scenes from the show

My co-star (Lauren McCrory) and myself pictured with Rod Stewart in the Olympia Theatre, Dublin

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