Gerry Conneely – ‘The Great Push’
Patrick Magill, a tatty picker from Glenties in Donegal achieved fame after the publication of his novel The Children of the Dead End in 1913. When the Great War broke out in 1914 he decided to join the army and to cover the war from the point of view of the ordinary soldier. His subsequent work, The Great Push became the original and possibly the greatest antiwar story ever told.
In this adaptation, veteran Galway actor Gerry Conneely focuses on the part of the story which was written just before and immediately after the Battle of Loos 1915, one of the first of the great heaves on the Western Front. The power of the piece lies in its immediacy. It was written by Magill while facing into the abyss. The piece contains a truth and an honesty that only the prospect of imminent death can induce.
Conneely’s rendition captures brilliantly the pathos, sensibility and humanity of a group that history tends to render as mere casualty statistics, a group of young men about to go out and die.
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