Patrick Pearse on trial: focus on the rebel leader

Three-part TV3 series stars Tom Vaughan-Lawlor, best known for ‘Love/Hate’

TV3 has announced dates for Trial of the Century starring Tom Vaughan-Lawlor (Charlie, Love/Hate) as Patrick Pearse in a three-part series that imagines what would have happened if instead of execution, the rebel leader had been sent to trial.

RTÉ's 1916 commemorative output has meant that since Christmas viewers have had a wide choice when it comes to Rising-related programming and to avoid the risk of Trial of the Century getting lost in the crowd, TV3 has held back the broadcast until the May bank holiday weekend. The broadcast will coincide with the 100th anniversary of Pearse's execution on May 3rd.

Directed by Maurice Sweeney filming took place in February in the Green Street Courthouse in Dublin which helps bring an authenticity to the drama – many rebels including Wolfe Tone, Robert Emmet and John Mitchel had been tried there.

"It's Rebellion meets Matlock," says Cormac Hargaden from Loosehorse Television who came up the concept for the series and who with Treasure Entertainment is producing Trial of the Century. "While it is operating in a 'what if' universe, and in some ways that liberates you in terms of writing and creating the drama, it is underpinned with robust historical research."


Historian and academic Patrick Geoghegan was brought in as a consultant.

The strong cast includes Mark Huberman, Andrew Bennett, Aoibhinn McGinnity, Denis Conway and Anthony Brophy. The first two parts are dramatisation; the third, which features the jury deliberations, has yet to be filmed. The make-up of the jury is not finalised but Hargaden has already drawn up a list of 12, some well-known, he says, some not. They will look at the evidence as presented and give their verdict on the trial that never was.

The budget for Trial of the Century is about €700,000 with funding coming from the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland, TV3 and section 481 tax breaks.

Bernice Harrison

Bernice Harrison

Bernice Harrison is an Irish Times journalist and cohost of In the News podcast