31st April 2016
Produced by Loosehorse Television and Treasure Entertainment for TV3, Trial of the Century is an imagined, alternative history which grants Pádraig Pearse the trial he never received in life. The hypothetical trial serves as a device to examine the many arguments that have been made for and against the rising over the last 100 years and also the many differing and contradictory things that have been said about Pearse over the last century. Pearse (played by Tom Vaughan-Lawlor) must defend the actions that changed the course of Irish history.
The series will air on TV3 over three consecutive nights, to coincide with the anniversary of Pearse’s execution on 3rd May.
In the first episode which airs on TV3 on Saturday 30th April, the British prosecution presents its case against the Rising’s leader. At a time when home rule was imminent and World War I was raging, was it justifiable to stand over so many deaths as the capital city burnt to the ground?
In the second installment airing on TV3 on Sunday 1st May, Pearse mounts a robust defence of the Rising, reaching into a long history of British oppression in an attempt to prove that it is legitimate to overthrow a tyrannical regime with force.
In the third and final programme which continues on the May Bank Holiday Monday, the viewers will eavesdrop on the real-time deliberations of an assembled contemporary jury made up of both well-known public figures and ‘ordinary’ Irish citizens, representing all shades and flavours of Irish life, the names of which have yet to be revealed.
Filming took place in Green Street Courthouse in Smithfield. The court was the venue of several noted trials such as those of Wolfe Tone and Robert Emmet in 1803, John Mitchel in 1848 and other Fenian leaders. It was extensively used during the troubles from 1970 to 1990s as the home of the Special Criminal Court. The third and final episode was shot in The Lir Theatre on Pearse Street.
Other well-known names that feature in the three-part special include Mark Huberman as George Gavan Duffy, Andrew Bennett as lead prosecutor Sebastian Banks, Aoibhinn McGinnity as mum Catherine Foster, Denis Conway as Pearse’s senior counsel and Anthony Brophy as Eoin MacNeill.