Working with Stephen Rea by Frank Connolly

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Stephen Rea Conspiracy

By Frank Connolly

Recording my novel, A Conspiracy of Lies, with a friend and consummate professional, Stephen Rea, was both an honour and a privilege. Stephen read the book and agreed to launch it in Dublin in April, 2019, when he described it as a powerful and important story, dealing as it does with the unresolved issues surrounding the bombings of Dublin and Monaghan in 1974.

Important, he said, as many of the hundreds who were injured and bereaved in the three blasts in Parnell, Talbot and South Leinster streets in Dublin at 5.30 p.m. on a May evening and in Monaghan just over an hour later are still seeking to establish who was responsible for the atrocity, and why.

After the launch, we discussed the idea of making an audiobook and he readily suggested that he would be happy to narrate the novel. With the 50th anniversary of the atrocity approaching on 17th May this year (2024), it seemed appropriate that we would record it to mark this significant milestone.

As a native of Belfast and a young actor in the 1970s, Stephen is no stranger to war and he witnessed the early stages of the most recent conflict in the North and across the island on the streets of his own city.

As a founder of the Field Day Company with the late Brian Friel, Seamus Deane and others, he also developed significant works of theatre that helped to historically contextualise the developing ‘Troubles’ as they unfolded.

During his long and accomplished acting career, Stephen played iconic roles on stage and screen, not least in the Neil Jordan directed, The Crying Game, that confronted the many complexities of the tortured colonial relationship between Britain and Ireland and its lasting impact on communities in the North, in particular.

Actor, Stephen Rea, launching 'A Conspiracy of Lies' with author, Frank Connolly, in Dublin, April 2019.

Actor, Stephen Rea, launching ‘A Conspiracy of Lies’ with author, Frank Connolly, in Dublin, April 2019

His extraordinary performance as a confused loyalist grandfather in Cyprus Avenue the one man play by David Ireland, in 2016, reinforced Stephen’s status as one of our greatest actors and treasures. More recently, in Beckett’s Krapp’s Last Tape, his ability to mesmerise and captivate his audience was masterfully displayed.

Working with producer, Tom Lee, he recorded the script of A Conspiracy of Lies over many hours, narrating the fictional voices of politicians, policemen, diplomats, lawyers and gangsters, among other characters, with bewildering skill.

The story follows the attempts by Angie Whelan and Joe Heney, played by two young Dublin actors, Liadh Connolly and Eoin Lynam, to establish who was responsible for the attacks that killed 33 people including an unborn child on the streets of Dublin and Monaghan on that evening in May 1974.

The tragic event brings the young couple together on a journey of discovery and danger as they encounter forces of corruption in government, business, media and the law. They relate their personal experience and exploits in separate chapters while Stephen’s narration follows the steadily increasing pace of the story as events unfold involving an array of characters drawn from cultural and political life in 1970’s Dublin.

He captures wonderfully both the threatening, the tragic and the humorous, changing his accent to cover the range of voices reflecting different class and ethnic backgrounds and the escalating tensions of this political and crime thriller.

Listening to Stephen Rea brings my novel to life in a dramatic and real way. As I said, it is an honour and a privilege to work with such a decent, humane and enduring talent.

© Frank Connolly

A Conspiracy of Lies is available in audio book format from Audible and other platforms including from its publisher, Mercier Press, at www.mercierpress.ie

About A Conspiracy of Lies:

Three bombs shook Dublin in May 1974.

Angie and Joe meet in the wake of the single worst atrocity of the Troubles. Brought together by the effect of the bombings on their lives, these two young people set out to discover who is responsible, facing confrontation with dark forces in Irish and British society. As Angie and Joe navigate the aftermath of the bombings, their journey leads them deep into the underbelly of 1970s Dublin, a time and place rife with cultural and political turmoil. Together, they vow to uncover the culprits behind the city’s worst atrocity. Their investigation draws them into the shocking political and criminal landscape surrounding those in high places with the blood of innocents on their hands. The more they discover, the deeper they become involved in a world they don’t understand—and the consequences could be devastating.

‘A tender love story of two young Dubliners trying to survive the danger of the terrible political truths they uncover’ ―Theo Dorgan

‘An essential and disturbing novel that describes the bombing of Dublin 50 years ago with insights into the ensuing cover-up’ ―Christy Moore

Order your copy of A Conspiracy of Lies online here and the audiobook here.

About the author

Frank Connolly is a distinguished investigative journalist whose work on political and police corruption contributed to the establishment of two judicial inquiries, the Flood/Mahon and the Morris Tribunals. He is currently Head of Communications with SIPTU, Ireland’s largest trade union.

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