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The Wife of Michael Cleary. Composer: Maz O’Connor, Director: Tinuke Craig, Movement Director: Martin Bassindale, Dramaturg: Alan Flanagan, Producer: Jessie Anand

Lookup NU author(s): Imogen Gunner


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The Wife of Michael Cleary, by Maz O'Connor is piece of music theatre, based on the story of Bridget Cleary, a 26-year-old dressmaker from Co. Tipperary who, in 1895, was burned to death by her husband and family because they believed her to be a fairy changeling. The piece is called The Wife of Michael Cleary and is rooted in Ireland’s traditional music and song.

Publication metadata

Performer(s)/Choreographer(s): Gunner I, Barnes P, Glasheen R, Nolan R, Lyons N

Publication type: Performance

Publication status: Published

Venue: Cecil Sharp House

Location: Camden, London

Year: 2021

Media of Output: Public performance, online access of performance and process


Notes: I was involved in this research and development work on Maz O'Connor's musical theatre piece, as harpist and fiddler, part of a crew of 5 musicians and 10 actors, during August and September 2021. The original story, documented in the book by Angela Bourke - the Burning of Bridget Cleary resonates across the centuries, and is an enduring one of societal misogyny, and male violence against women. The character of Bridget is beautifully, and poignantly realised, as are the voices of her husband, family and community, through Maz O'Connor's lyrics and music.