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Grace O'Malley


2024 marks 50 years since the founding of the Glencree Peace and Reconciliation Centre in the Wicklow mountains.

An Agility Award from the Arts Council in 2021, gave me the time to research letters, documents, interviews and personal journals written by my grandmother Una O'Higgins O'Malley, founder of Glencree and daughter of first Minister for Justice Kevin O’Higgins, in my family’s posession.

I have condensed 30 years of writing into a research document that I will now develop into new work for theatre with a highly skilled team. Una’s journals, poetry and published books offer a detailed window into the heart of a woman who spent her life’s work bringing peace to Ireland. 

The letters in particular detail the challenges and obstacles that arose for a group of peace workers that passionately believed in setting up a centre in the heart of the Wicklow mountains. They hoped that the wild, untouched valleys of rolling green hills could offer a small window of momentary peace and perhaps even a different perspective.

I am certain that Una’s time at Glencree tremendously supported her later on in life in meeting and reconciling with the son of her father’s murderer. When Bill Gannon’s son, Roger Gannon reached out to Una to tell her the story passed down by his father, so sparked a most unlikely friendship. 

Una’s life search to know the father that was taken away from her, drove her to seek non violent ways to find reconciliation both personally and for Ireland.

In collaboration with Mentor and Dramaturg Colin Murpthy, Developmental Director Conall Morrison and Producer Hugh Farrell, we will develop a script for performance to be read at Glencree in an event that will be part of their 50th Anniversary celebrations.

Funded by Wicklow County Arts Office Strategic Project Awards 2024 supported by the Arts Council.


Artist’s Biography:

Grace O’Malley is a writer and creative producer from Dublin who is currently based in Stockholm. After graduating from a degree in Musical Theatre at London’s Central School of Speech and Drama, Grace went on to work as a musical theatre performer in off West End productions of Rent and Steel Pier as well as a UK tour of My Big Gay Italian Wedding.

Grace moved home to Dublin in 2016 where she became a mother and began to focus on writing and producing. Grace is the Creator and Creative Producer of New Fish A Musical, a collaboration between the creative team which Grace put together. So far the work in development has been shown at festivals as rehearsed readings and as a work in progress production in October 2019 in Smock Alley Theatre.

Grace is currently working with a new collaborative team on creating an original piece for theatre about the life and work of her grandmother, Una O’Higgins O’Malley, supported by Arts Council Ireland and Wicklow County Council.