Larkin the Musical tells the story of the turbulent early and middle years of James Larkin, Ireland’s legendary labour leader. In tandem with dramatising his public life, this show also tells the story of Larkin the man, and his fascinating love affair with the genteel English woman who would became his wife.
The show opens with Larkin’s experiences as a young man in South America, with Act One covering his courtship and marriage to Elizabeth Brown, the strains placed on their relationship by their eviction during the Dublin Rent Strike, and the awful moral choices necessitated by the infamous 1913 lockout.
Part Two deals with the fallout from the lockout, leading to Larkin’s arrival in the teeming, rag-time atmosphere of New York in 1914, later to be joined by Elizabeth and Jim Junior. Ear-marked for destruction by powerful enemies, Larkin is jailed. Elizabeth is forced to return to Ireland, and for years they are apart, before Larkin is finally pardoned by the Governor of New York.
Larkin returns in triumph to Dublin, but he and Elizabeth are forced to acknowledge the toll that the years of struggle and separation have exacted on their relationship. The show ends with Larkin looking back on his life, buffeted by many reversals, yet still hopeful of a better future.
Larkin the Musical was directed by Brian Merriman, starring Todd Brothers and Aideen Wylde, and had its premiere in the Liberty Hall Theatre in 2002.
In 2012 an excerpt from the show was performed for President Michael D Higgins during a visit to Wexford, and in the summer of 2013, five songs from Larkin the Musical were performed in Aras An Uachtarain as part of the commemoration of the centenary of the 1913 lockout.
Larkin the Musical
Book and Lyrics – Brian Gallagher
Music – Shaun Purcell