Bréifne, The Middle Kingdom, O'Rourke and O'Reilly: Tale of an Unlikely Princess

So I wrote this musical -- The Last Torch. It took a long time approximately 7 years. I even raised a bunch of money and put it onstage. I battled to tell this story. It’s an important story to me and to the Irish. 

Though I have a great love of period dramas and love a good Tudor tale as much as the next person, I have noticed the lack of Irish representation. There are two sides to every story. I wanted to change that, I still do. The Irish have a rich history, which has been distorted and ignored by mainstream media for too long.

I was proud to tell the tale of my ancestors (the O’Rourkes) to packed houses at the iconic Malthouse Theatre on the banks of the Yarra River in Melbourne city. I cried at the closing scene every night as the hero stood next to the noose. Part of my emotion was simply relief we got through another show but another was a melancholy that I felt in my bones.  When the show was over I couldn’t touch it, I didn’t want to think about it. It was the hardest thing I had ever done in my life. I had to believe in myself fully, I had to believe that it would work that I had done everything in my power to make it happen. There were many bumps in the road, there was frustrations and divas and exhaustion.

In October this year Facebook reminded me I wrote, produced and directed the musical two years ago. I was forced to reflect, and I felt the utter exhaustion again. The frustration welled up in me. Why had I even bothered? Why do I care so much? What was I thinking? That I would change the world? Yes, good things had happened. So many good things. My mum was able to feel proud of her roots. My dad was inspired and painted -- alot. Musician friends had been inspired. I was a kick-arse creative mum of three, a shining example to the young women I was teaching. I got to Ireland TWICE. I even paid my respects to the Spanish sailors on the beach where they landed. The very beach and sailors I dreamt and wrote about. Still I had no idea where I was going. Where the story was going. Is this it?  Do I give up now? Go back to teaching and being a mum and forget about my dream? I could do that, I WOULD be happy with that. I said it out loud – “I’m tired, I’m done. If you want me to keep going, I will. But I need a sign.”

Next year I am planning an O’Rourke Gathering in Ireland. I was considering packing that in, too. I was looking for interesting things to post on the O’Rourke page when I came across The Royal Court of Bréifne. This couldn’t be real.The Kingdom of Bréifne was O’Rourke territory.  This website was led by an O’Reilly. I looked up the O’Reillys and found that this family had been at war with the O’Rourkes over territory in Bréifne. In the West was Breifne O'Rourke and in the East, Bréifne O'Reilly. This was so out of this world that I figured this was my sign. I contacted the chancellor l and received a message a few days later that Lord Martin would like to speak with me.  I was told later that his first reaction was not a happy one. Talk to an O’Rourke? No thanks. After some coaxing, he agreed and our conversation was nearly an hour of happy chat. He was very impressed with what I had done for my clan and offered me a place in his court. His mission is very noble, and I am so happy to be a part of it. We are to mend the split in the Kingdom of Bréifne, among other things. It’s really very beautiful, symbolic and something good happening in the world.

 I will keep you updated,

                            Princess Frances of the Royal House of O’Rourke

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Tags: Drama, Events, Family History, Irish Kingdoms, Opinion

Comment by Norah McEvoy on November 20, 2016 at 2:36pm

Speaking as an O'Reilly, I have enjoyed this information and look forward to hearing more of why/how the Clanns fell out. Our O'Rourke neighbour at home in Inniskeen, South Co. Monaghan always referred to the battle between our families but he has since died, as have our parents so I still don't know what exactly he talked of, Lord Have Mercy on all of them...

Comment by mary mc ginnis on November 21, 2016 at 1:24am

I was always ashamed of my O'Rourke name. My father was not a very nice man. I won't go into the details but I identified with my mother's side, the McGintys. I must say Princess Frances has uncovered a lot of my history for which I am eternally grateful.

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