Michael Hennessey of Charlottetown has received word that his play, THE SEARCH FOR EILEEN SULLIVAN, has placed first in a one-act playwriting contest dealing with the Irish diaspora to North America, organized by Montrealer Byron Toben, The winning play carries with it a prize of $500. Second place went to Anne Phelan of Brooklyn, New York, and receiving honorable mention were Deborah A. Dickson of Greenfield Park, Quebec, and Lucy Brennan of Whitby, Ontario.
Entries were received from Ireland, the United States, and Canada.
All contestants were given the same title to work with and had to build their play around it. Hennessey used the Tenant League revolts of 1864-65 on PEI as background, including the coming of the British 16th Regiment of Foot, sent to the Island from Halifax to quell the riots. Their efforts were singularly unsuccessful as upwards of 20 of their number deserted, many marrying Island girls. Eileen Sullivan is portrayed as one of the many Irish activists in the Tenant League.
The adjudicator wrote about Hennessey’s play: “The twists and turns of humans caught up in a historic panorama reminds one …..of the writings of the popular early modern Irish playwright Dion Boucicault.”
Hennessey has had ten plays produced on stage, and two on CBC radio.