Feb 5, 2021
This week's episode is with artist, actor, peace activist, playwright and pirate radio queen, Margaretta D'Arcy. Margaretta has campaigned for decades on issues related to global peace and civil liberties. In 2014, Margaretta, then aged 80, served two prison sentences resulting from her opposition to the use of Shannon Airport by the US military.
Over the years, her activism has taken many forms. She was a member of Bertrand Russell's Committee of 100 group. She participated in anti-nuclear demonstrations at Greenham Common Women's Peace Camp, and took part in the H-Block women's protests in Armagh. Broadcasting from her kitchen in Galway, she operated a long-running women's pirate radio station, which served to give a platform to lesser-heard and marginalised voices in the community.
She wrote and devised a large body of 'Loose' theatre, often working in collaboration with her late-partner, the radical playwright John Arden. Together, they created the much-celebrated The Non-Stop Connolly Show, the story of James Connolly told in six parts over 24 hours.
In this episode of the podcast, Margaretta talks to us about how she was arrested during a peaceful demonstration in Belfast on International Women's Day 1979, which lead to her taking part in the no-wash protests in Armagh Gaol. She describes the brutality and humiliation of invasive strip searches by male prison guards on women prisoners, and asks questions of whether women are given their proper dues when it comes to acknowledging the place of profound feminist resistance within our complex history of revolutionary struggle.
We look at artistic censorship, political complacency, our complicity in war, and our inability to empathise with strangers in other lands. Is imagination enough to fight back against neoliberal Ireland? And just how is Margaretta D'Arcy still finding ways to resist during these lockdown times?