Left Behind – Songs of the 1916 Widows is a new song cycle composed by Simon O'Connor and commissioned by Irish soprano Michelle O'Rourke. Drawing on the experiences of women closely connected to the conflict, including the wives of prominent rebel leaders, O'Rourke and O'Connor have created a unique suite of compositions that offer an emotional, human perspective on a narrative that is too often told in baldly male heroic terms.

Beginning life as simple vocal/piano pieces inspired by the work of historian Sinead McCoole, these songs have been transformed with the addition of O'Connor's former bandmates from seminal Dublin indie-rock band The Jimmy Cake and the Robinson Panoramic Quartet. This small ensemble brings a volatile and dramatic energy to the retelling of the stories of Lillie Connolly, Grace and Muriel Gifford, Agnes Mallin and others.

"So much of our engagement with history is purely political, and so rarely we allow ourselves to read between the lines to find human realities" says O'Connor. "Referencing Sinead McCoole's incredible book Easter Widows allowed us to consider the human cost, the real life narratives of the revolutionary period that we can empathise with and still understand today."

"More so than any art form, music can place us squarely in this emotional space" adds soprano Michelle O'Rourke."With these songs, we hope to give life to some of these feelings, these emotions and the sense of loss felt by many women and children left behind by men who were dominated by what they felt was a higher calling"

Click here to listen to an RTÉ Radio 1 special on Left Behind 


Left Behind formed the centrepiece of the Irish Republic's International Women's Day Centenary event in 2016, and an Irish tour will follow:

Thursday, 31 March Lime Tree Theatre, Limerick  limetreetheatre.ie   061 774 774

Friday, 1 April An Grianán Theatre, Letterkenny  angrianan.com   074 91 20777

Thursday, 7 April Siamsa Tíre, Tralee  siamsatire.com   066 712 3055

Friday, 22 April Glór, Ennis  glor.ie   065 684 3103

Wednesday, 27th April  National Concert Hall, Dublin (with the RTÉ Concert Orchestra) www.nch.ie

Thursday, 28 April Dunamaise Arts Centre, Mullingar  dunamaise.ie   057 866 3355

Friday, 6 May Pavilion Theatre, Dún Laoghaire  paviliontheatre.ie   01 231 2929

Wednesday, 11 MaySolstice Arts Centre, Navan  solsticeartscentre.com   046 909 2300