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Kilmainham Kids

    by Paul Sherman

"I would recommend this to anyone who is looking for a serious production for a young cast. We loved every minute of it."

Malcolm Henty (Axmouth Childrens Theatre)


Drama Play Script: 'Kilmainham Kids' by Paul ShermanSix children are imprisoned in Kilmainham Gaol, 1849 Dublin. They all existed (except Molly O’Brien, the antagonist). The kids are John Lane (12, caught whilst stealing potatoes, most of the humour in the play comes from him), Ellen Carthy (15, an escaped Workhouse girl, who was caught stealing clothes. She has a bad cough), Molly O’Brien (15, a nasty piece of work; believes that Ellen Carthy ‘shopped’ her for breaking the workhouse window). Patrick McCarthy (16, arrested for vagrancy), Daniel Santry (17, arrested for trying to fire-bomb the police-station; he dreams of becoming a soldier and fighting for a free Ireland), Margaret Santry (10, Daniel’s sister, wrongly arrested for sheep-stealing; her brother has no time for her). 

The children are attended by two ‘Screws’, Rafferty and Roach, who are a good guy/bad guy combination. Rafferty is sympathetic to the children, but Roach is a tyrant, with no time for them. 

Drama Play Script: 'Kilmainham Kids' by Paul ShermanAt the height of the tension, the Screws bring in a new prisoner: Con Colbert; a rebel who is to be shot for his part in the 1916 Easter Uprising (the time difference explained at the end in a neat little twist). He teaches the children some home truths, particularly Molly and Daniel, who he ridicules gently for his desire to ‘become a soldier’. He denies Molly ‘justice’ realising it is actually spite. He is manacled; Ellen writes his goodbye letter to his sister. It is now that the children realise he is about to be executed. Daniel pins the white cross on him, where the soldiers will aim. He is taken out. The children disappear into the shadows, apparently not having existed. 

The play opens to the haunting strains of ‘The Auld Triangle’ by Ellis Island. It is dawn. The guards wake the children and tell them to clean the cell. John complains they have not had breakfast. The children's stories unfold as they interact with each other. Their characters, hopes and dreams come alive. Conflict arises though: Molly, proud of her breaking the Workhouse window, accuses Ellen of ‘shopping’ her and insists they hold a trial here in gaol; she wants justice. Ellen’s cough continues to get worse and Patrick is disturbed to discover that Ellen is coughing blood. They call Rafferty and Roach to get a medic. 

The children re-appear, hold hands and hear the gunfire. Smoke seeps in through the windows. The children don’t understand how it can be 1916, unless they are seeing the future, or this is the present and they are ghosts. They don’t have long to ponder. Margaret, Ellen’s special friend, discovers Ellen has died. 

Ellis Island play out with ‘The Auld Triangle’ after Margaret’s last words “I just can’t over how beautiful she looks.”

Drama Play Script: 'Kilmainham Kids' by Paul Sherman

Paul Sherman with the cast of the March 2017 production by the Limitless Academy Of Performing Arts, Welwyn Garden City, UK


50 mins approx

Characters (3m adult; 3m, 3f junior)

The Kids (3m, 3f)

  •  Ellen Carthy - 15
  •  Patrick McCarthy - 16
  •  Molly O’Brien - 15
  •  Margaret Santry - 10
  •  John Lane - 12
  •  Daniel Santry - 17

The Adults (3m)

  •  Rafferty - a guard
  •  Roach - another guard
  •  Con Colbert - a rebel (a real character involved in the 1916 Easter uprising in Dublin)

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