A Flag Unfurled
by Leigh Jackson

Leigh Jackson - A Flag Unfurled

BBC Radio 3: Sunday Play

Broadcast: Sunday 6th December 1998 @ 7:30 p.m.

A play about the life and times of Erskine Childers, one of the most enigmatic Englishmen of the 20th century. Writer of the celebrated novel, "The Riddle of the Sands", he was a British patriot who fought in the Boer and First World War and was awarded the DSO medal.

With his belief in the cause of Irish Home Rule, he joined Sinn Féin after the war and became an Irish revolutionary and a propagandist in the struggle for Irish independence. In 1921, Childers was elected to the Dail Eireann (Irish Parliament) as TD for County Wicklow; in March that year, he was appointed Dail Minister for Publicity and editor of the Irish Bulletin, a republican newsletter. A principal secretary in the Irish peace delegation to London in late 1921, Childers strongly opposed the terms of the proposed treaty. In the ensuing Irish Civil War, he supported the republican IRA and was appointed the latter's Director of Publicity.

While visiting his cousin's home in County Wicklow in November 1922, Childers was arrested by Irish Free State troops and imprisoned in Wicklow Jail before being transferred to Portobello Barracks in Dublin where he was tortured. Court-martialled on 17th November on a charge of possession of a revolver given to him by Michael Collins, he was consequently sentenced to death.

An appeal pending in the High Court, Childers was nonetheless executed by firing squad in Portobello Barracks on 24th November 1922.

Cast: Michael Maloney [Erskine Childers], Deborah Norton [Molly Childers (neé Osgoode), Erskin's Wife], Natasha McElhone [Dulcibella Childers, Erskine's Youngest Sister], Laura Hughes [Constance Childers, Erskine's Older Sister], Patrick Duncan [Henry Childers, Erskine's Older Brother], Owen Roe [Robert Barton, Erskine's Cousin], Ron Berglas [Fisk Warren, Molly's Brother-in-Law], Ed Bishop [Dr. Hamilton Osgoode, Molly's Father], Robin Soans [Basil Williams, Erskine's Long-time Friend], Barry McGovern [Arthur Griffith, Member of Sinn Féin], Sean Rocks [Michael Collins, Member of Sinn Féin], Colin Carnegie [Captain Ring], and Paddy Scully [Mr. Boylan, the Jailer].

Other parts were played by members of the cast.

The pianist was Bill Lloyd and the violinist was Sean McGuire.

Directed by Roland Jaquarello.

120 minutes.


    Robert Erskine Childers, DSC (25th June 1870 - 24th November 1922)

    Robert Erskine Childers was an author and Irish nationalist who was executed by the authorities of the nascent Irish Free State during the Irish Civil War. He was the son of British Orientalist scholar Robert Caesar Childers; the cousin of Hugh Childers and Robert Barton; and the father of the fourth President of Ireland, Erskine Hamilton Childers.

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