Press Release

Film on bannerman and actor Jer O’Leary to launch in Liberty Hall on Friday 3rd May

Date Released: 26 April 2019

A documentary film, ‘The Bard of Drumcondra’, on the life and work of trade union banner maker, actor and political activist the late Jer O’Leary will be launched in Liberty Hall, Dublin 1, on Friday, 3rd May at 7.00 p.m.

The film features interviews with people who worked alongside Jer including film director, Jim Sheridan, archivist Catriona Crowe and labour historian Francis Devine. Also featured is archival footage of Jer as trade union leader, Jim Larkin, a role he made famous in stage productions and protests, as well as a previously unseen interview with Jer concerning the inspiration behind his trade union banner art.

SIPTU Health Division Organiser, Paul Bell, said: “Jer was a member of our union for more than 50 years as both an actor and health service worker, until his death last St. Stephen’s Day. His contribution to the culture of trade unionism in Ireland was immense.

“As an actor he worked alongside directors such as John Arden and Jim Sheridan to bring back to life the character of ‘Big’ Jim Larkin in such seminal pieces of political theatre as the 1975 production of the Non-Stop Connolly Show in Liberty Hall and the Risen People.”

He added: “He brought the speeches of Larkin to an even wider audience through his regular rendition of them at protests and marches. Jer also acted in many feature films and on television, these included roles in The FieldIn The Name of the FatherBraveheart and Game of Thrones.”

SIPTU Dublin District Council joint secretary, Brendan Carr, said: “Jer’s belief in the power of welding socialist politics to popular artistic expression also underpinned his revival of trade union banner art in Ireland. 

“In particular, the use in his designs of the original Starry Plough flag and images of great union leaders such as Connolly and Larkin, as well as activists such as the Lockout Martyrs, effectively conveyed the ideals of solidarity and collective action which underpin our union.”

The documentary has been produced by Gansee Films in association with SIPTU Health and is being launched as part of the SIPTU Dublin District Council MayFest 2019 series of events in Liberty Hall between  1st and 12th May. Entry to the screening is free and open to the public.


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