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Guildford Four: Martin Lynch and Richard O’Rawe take one-man-show about Gerry Conlon to Edinburgh Fringe

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Martin Lynch and Richard O'Rawe

Martin Lynch and Richard O'Rawe

Gerry Conlon is released at the Old Bailey

Gerry Conlon is released at the Old Bailey

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Martin Lynch and Richard O'Rawe

Martin Lynch and Richard O’Rawe have spoken of their excitement at taking their play about Gerry Conlon to Belfast’s Grand Opera House prior to this month’s Edinburgh Festival.

Conlon was one of the Guildford Four, who spent 15 years in prison having been wrongly convicted for IRA pub bombings in Guildford. The attacks left five people dead and over 100 injured.

Conlon was released in 1989, depicted in a Hollywood film and later became a campaigner against miscarriages of justice. He died in 2014.

Lynch and O’Rawe’s play, In The Name of the Son, is a one-man-show telling the story of Conlon’s life after leaving jail as he struggled with substance abuse, newfound fame and the lasting guilt over his father Giuseppe’s imprisonment and death.

O’Rawe had been friends with Conlon and, at Gerry’s request, wrote a book documenting his life, of which this play was adapted from.

“People know about In The Name of the Father; when he put it to me to write the book, I didn’t see a story in it — I said to him, your story’s been done, you’ve been proved innocent, you wrote a biography, Daniel Day Lewis played you in a film, what more do you want?” Richard said.

“He said, my real story didn’t start until I got out of jail, I did 15 years, it’s miraculous that they made a film out of it, my real story started when I got out — and he was right!”

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Gerry Conlon is released at the Old Bailey

Gerry Conlon is released at the Old Bailey

Gerry Conlon is released at the Old Bailey

Lynch explained: “All life is in this book. It was jumping off the page to me when I read it.”

Lynch and O’Rawe developed the stageplay together over a six month period, and following setbacks due to the pandemic, it made its Belfast debut in the Lyric Theatre in 2021. “We’ve got a real rapport with each other, you have to be generous with each other,” Lynch said, adding: “We were very capable at every turn, we were both tuned in to the guy Gerry was. I met him several times with Richard, you got to know his personality very well.

“We were the right people to write it, what’s great about the whole project is that it’s bringing Gerry and Giuseppe’s names back into the limelight and letting people know what the real story is. This is a legacy story.”

The play has just completed a week-long run at Belfast’s Grand Opera House, receiving standing ovations and top reviews.

“It’s been the biggest audience so far, the intention was always to come here, if you do well here the whole thing lifts,” added Lynch.

O’Rawe added: “Gerry Conlon was an absolute socialite, he loved talking, he loved meeting people, he would have loved this, he’d have been buzzing all over this place. He was a larger than life character, he commanded the room straight away, if he met you once he would have remembered your name 10 years later.”

The pair are taking the play to Edinburgh Festival for a month-long run, and although Lynch admits the Fringe can be “a hard nut to crack”, he’s confident in this project: “In Edinburgh you have to build word of month and that’s what will do it for us — once people see this play they’re blown away.”


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