This weekend, Documentary On Newstalk airs the premiere of ‘From Rebel Leader to Peace Activist: The making of George Lennon’ produced by Simon Maguire, which explores the extraordinary life of one of Ireland’s most fascinating revolutionary leaders.
‘From Rebel Leader to Peace Activist: The making of George Lennon’ charts the life of the man who, inspired by tales of Patrick Sarsfield growing up, would go on to lead the West Waterford Flying Column during the Irish War of Independence.
Lennon would engage British forces on 17 different occasions, take the anti-Treaty side during the Civil War and later, would emigrate to the United States where he became a dedicated pacifist and a founding member of a Zen Buddhism centre in Rochester, New York.
Members of the Irish Republican Army at the Waterford City Infantry Barracks. From left to right: George Lennon (back), Moses Roche, James Prendergast and Paddy Power. July 1922
‘From Rebel Leader to Peace Activist: The making of George Lennon’ is a story framed within the Decade of Centenaries as George’s son, Ivan, recalls his father’s role in Ireland’s struggle for freedom. In addition, biographer Terry O’Reilly, historians Prof. Eunan O’Halpin and Dr. Helene O’Keeffe place Lennon’s revolutionary activities within the broader struggle for Irish freedom.
Roshi Bodhin Kjolhede, the Abbot and Director of the Rochester Zen Centre and Hugh Curran, a lecturer in peace and reconciliation studies at the University of Maine, discuss Lennon’s time at the Centre and how it
shaped him in later life.
George (left) with Roger McCorley from Armagh at O'Connell Bridge in 1939.
This documentary will also include a reenactment of ‘I and Thou’, a play in one act written by Lennon, which details the execution of RIC Sergeant Micheal Hickey - a former childhood acquaintance of his.
‘From Rebel Leader to Peace Activist: The making of George Lennon’ is written and narrated by Simon Maguire, produced by Simon Maguire and Susan Cahill with original compositions and audio mastering by Scott Tobin.
George Lennon and Paddy Paul photographed in Rochester, New York. George Lennon was the Officer Commanding West Waterford I.R.A. Flying Column during the War of Independence. Paddy Paul was Officer Commanding East Waterford I.R.A. April 1970
Photography donated by the kind permission of Ivan Lennon and the Waterford County Museum. Reenactment of ‘I and Thou’ by Shane Hannon, Ivan Lennon, Ronan Morrissey and Neil Treacy.
‘From Rebel Leader to Peace Activist: The making of George Lennon’ was funded by the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland with the Television Licence Fee.