Funding, Organisations

Story of Landmark project which gave 23,000 children respite from The Troubles set to open at The Lyric

19th April, 2024

Brassneck Theatre Company’s latest production, Project Children, is set to open on the Main Stage of the Lyric Theatre next week (April 24th – May 5th).

Four women are pictured in the Lyric theatre, they are smiling and carrying a large red suit case. Behind them an LED screen can be seen advertising Project Children.
Caption: Mary Moulds (actress), Monica Culbert (Project Children volunteer), Nicky Harley (actress) and Sally Brennan (Project Children volunteer)

Written by Fionnuala Kennedy and directed by Tony Devlin, the play tells the incredible story of the Project Children programme, which spanned 40 years and brought 23,000 Northern Ireland children to the USA during the summer month, as respite from the conflict. The programme was set up by Cork natives and then NYPD members, brothers Patric and Denis Mulcahy, who were inspired to take action, after seeing news footage of the violence back home.

The play is the result of hours of interviews conducted by Belfast Playwright, Fionnuala Kennedy, who has documented this extraordinary intervention through interviews with those who participated in the initiative. The initial run of Project Children premiered in August 2023 as a part of Féile an Phobail 35, to eight nights of sell-out audiences and was supported by funding from the National Lottery Fund through Arts Council of Northern Ireland for Brassneck Theatre, as well as Arts Council National Lottery funding to commission the play.

Looking forward to opening night at the Lyric Fionnula Kennedy said: 

I’m delighted to finally get the chance to work with the team at Brassneck. Whilst the play looks specifically at Project Children, it’s a celebration of all those programmes - Children in the Crossfire, the Ulster Project, to name a few. The stories are mad, hilarious, sad, joyous! Not only about the children who went out, but the extraordinary volunteers who gave their time to help children during the conflict.”

Dr Damian Smyth, Joint Head of Literature, Drama and Dance at the Arts Council said investment in companies like Brassneck Theatre and the commissioning of new productions such as Project Children ensures important stories are told and that more people from all background can enjoy arts experiences.

He continued: 

“The Arts Council of Northern Ireland is delighted to support Brassneck Theatre Company and this new play, Project Children, thanks to The National Lottery players. National Lottery funding has been a game changer in supporting the writing of this terrific new play and reflects powerful human stories in a contemporary Northern Ireland. I would encourage everyone to go along to experience what promises to be an unmissable performance.”

On Saturday April 27th, Denis Mulcahy, founder of the original Project Children programme and charity, will travel from New York to Belfast to attend the production as a part of a special evening hosted in his honour.

Jimmy Fay, Executive Producer of the Lyric Theatre says: 

"The Lyric is very excited to host Brassneck as they present Project Children, written by Fionnuala Kennedy and directed by Tony Devlin after a sell-out run at last year’s Féile. Fionnuala has written a warm, engaging and vibrant piece based on the memories of those who took part in the programme. We are also honoured to welcome Denis Mulcahy to the theatre on the 27th. Brassneck always attract a large and enthusiastic audience, and their shows never fail to delight and entertain. I would encourage everyone to snap up a ticket to this production which promises to be very special indeed!”

From the award-winning company who brought you 'The Holy, Holy Bus', 'Man in the Moon' and 'A Night with George', Brassneck Theatre Company announces ‘Project Children’, a new play inspired by the stories and experiences of people who travelled to America as children, for respite during the height of the conflict. The production will be presented at the Lyric Theatre, Belfast, Main Stage from April 24th – May 5th.

Performance Details

April 24th – May 5th Lyric Theatre, Belfast

Tickets available from:

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About Brassneck Theatre Company

Brassneck Theatre Company has been producing sell out shows since 2007. The company was created to satisfy the huge appetite in West Belfast for quality theatre. Brassneck plays an integral part in everyday West Belfast society, contributing to the re-imaging of West Belfast and breaking the pre-conceptions that exist about this part of our city. Our work reflects all of our Citizens and is accessible to all. Currently the company is focusing on the development of new writing from its firm West Belfast roots, addressing themes of identity, history, culture and religious and racial tolerance.

Project Children will be open at the Lyric Theatre on 24th April 2024