Last Updated on June 2, 2020, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 340
Michael Joseph Hegarty
Michael Joseph Hegarty, age twenty-two, is unemployed and engaged to be married. His plans to continue his education and build a career are derailed by his involvement in the protests. His belief that reforms can solve Northern Ireland’s problems, along with confidence in British rule, clashes with Irish activism.
Elizabeth Doherty, known as Lily, is the middle-aged mother of eleven children. She tries to lift them out of poverty and support the family as a cleaner, because her husband is disabled. Lily becomes one of the protesters who occupies Guildhall; there, she takes a lighter tone in making fun both of their situation and of the grandeur of the mayor’s rooms.
Adrian Casimir “Skinner” Fitzgerald
Skinner, the nickname of Adrian Casimir Fitzgerald, is a twenty-one-year-old petty criminal. He turns into a leader by virtue of recognizing the location at which he, Lily, and Michael, have arrived. Skinner’s familiarity with the law leads him to believe that their reaction will be swift and violent. While not overtly political in his motivations, he is a skilled analyst of the practical realities of the conflict. His mocking attitude toward the mayor’s rooms sets an irreverent tone.
Liam O’Kelly, an Irish journalist, covers the occupation on television. He sympathizes with Ireland and opposes the British.
The Judge is the official that heads the investigation into the occupation and related events. As he remains unnamed, he serves as a generic symbol of British occupation and the inequalities built into the justice system.
The Ballad Singer
The Ballad Singer offers songs that use traditional formats to provide political commentary on the Guildhall occupation and fate of Lily and the other activists.
Brigadier Johnson-Hanbury is the British commander who represents the occupying forces. He initiates the attack on the Guildhall occupiers that results in their getting shot. He provides testimony to support the official story.
Dr. Dobbs is an academic who provides sociological analysis of the protest’s causes as well as Marxist-slanted commentary on class.
Last Updated on May 5, 2015, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 484
Michael Joseph Hegarty
Michael Joseph Hegarty, an unemployed young man who is engaged to be married and has plans for an education and a career. Twenty-two years old and of average looks and build, he is serious, even humorless. A very proper man, he has a staunch belief in the civil rights movement in Northern Ireland and fears its contamination by radicals and troublemakers. He trusts the British military forces not to use violence without provocation.
Elizabeth (Lily) Doherty
Elizabeth (Lily) Doherty, a cleaning woman, wife of a disabled worker, and mother of eleven children. She is physically worn but still shows traces of her youthful good looks. At the age of forty-three, she is sensible but still imaginative, and she joins Skinner in joking and play-acting when they take refuge in the mayor’s parlor of the Guildhall. Her squalid life of overcrowded poverty is revealed in contrast with the opulence of the mayor’s rooms.
Adrian Casimir Fitzgerald
Adrian Casimir Fitzgerald, called Skinner, a restless, keen-witted young man who has no home and often is in trouble with the police. Twenty-one years old and of very lean build, Skinner is the first to realize where they are when he, Lily, and Michael run for shelter. He is also the one who correctly assesses the situation and knows that the military will react violently. Although seemingly irreverent and careless, he is highly concerned with determining meaning and motive, pressing the other characters to explain why they participated in the march. He flirts with Lily and taunts Michael, persistently showing disrespect for the trappings of the mayor’s rooms.
Dr. Dobbs, a sociologist who appears at intervals to offer an analysis of the effects of poverty and class. He alternates between making pompous statements and astute observations.
Liam O’Kelly, an Irish television reporter who gives periodic news reports on the action of the play. He presents the official media view of the Irish Republic.
The Judge, a nameless official who conducts the “investigation” that runs parallel to the main action of the play. He is the representative of British justice in Northern Ireland.
Ballad Singer, who appears at intervals to sing (and invite others to join in) impromptu verses composed on the “occupation” of the Guildhall and the deaths of Lily, Michael, and Skinner. The songs are of the traditional romantic and patriotic type, emphasizing martyrdom.
The priest, an unnamed cleric who gives last rites to the victims and sermonizes twice in the play. He vacillates, speaking out against both British authority and Irish militancy.
Brigadier Johnson-Hansbury, who commands the British and local Protestant forces outside the Guildhall and represents the British military presence in Northern Ireland. He is responsible for the shootings and testifies that the victims were armed. His testimony helps create the official version of the incident.
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