Down County Museum Celebrates Life and Times of Thomas Russell through Words, Music and Song
A special musical event looking at the life, times and legacy of Thomas Russell will take place at Down County Museum on Friday 19 October at 7.30pm.
Newry, Mourne and Down District Council Chairman, Councillor Mark Murnin said, “This will be a wonderful event at the Museum, bringing to life the story of Thomas Russell and his times in music and words, by two of our leading musicians and singers. I would encourage as many people as possible to attend this performance.”
Thomas Russell was the Gaol’s most famous prisoner. Executed at the door of the gaol on
21 October 1803 and buried in Downpatrick, he was a centrally important figure in the foundation of the Society of United Irishmen and one of its leaders throughout the 1790s.
For many people in County Down, he is the ‘man from God knows where’, the subject of the long ballad of that title, written by Bangor poet, Florence Mary Wilson. However, he was a very important figure in the radical politics of 1790s Ireland, whose impact on the story of the United Irishmen has often been overlooked.
This event, told in music and words, focuses on Russell’s personality and impact on the times. The performance has been developed by folk-singers, writers and broadcasters, Jane Cassidy and Maurice Leyden, who will tell the story of this remarkable man. The innovative presentation uses eye-witness accounts of his life and times, as well as extracts from Russell’s diary, woven together with local traditional songs.
Maurice Leyden is a folk-song collector, singer, broadcaster and writer with a passion for Ulster folk song. He has written a number of books on folk song and lectures on the subject, and presented a weekly folk music programme ‘Folkal Point’ for 14 years on Downtown Radio.
County Down native Jane Cassidy has had a long and successful career in music and broadcasting. She and Maurice have previously produced and performed a show about
Mary Ann McCracken, and this show about Russell is a ‘must see’ for anyone interested in the story of 1798 who also loves great music and song. The show will conjure up the drama and pathos of that ‘time of the hurry’, when Protestant, Catholic and Dissenter combined to fight for a reform of parliamentary representation.