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Top  left photo: Peter Knippel; centre: Peter Puna; right top and bottom: Lydia Pawelak

From Ireland's rebel to Canada's martyr: the assassination that sparked the birth of a nation.

In the year 1868 in the frontier town of Ottawa, James Patrick Whelan stood accused of the murder of Thomas D'Arcy McGee, a fellow Irish immigrant and former leader of the Young Ireland rebellion who had since risen to become one of Canada's most influential politicians. The evidence against Whelan was purely circumstantial, yet led him to his death before thousands of jeering spectators in what would become Canada's last public hanging. Some 135 years later, Whelan's ghost still haunts the streets of Ottawa, determined to prove his innocence and rewrite the history books. The murder, widely believed to be the result of a Fenian plot, remains a pivotal moment in the rich and varied history of the thousands of Irish immigrants to Canada. Pierre Brault's gripping drama explores this most fascinating episode, laying bare the Irish passion for the homeland, and the sacrifices made in its name.

produced in association with the

National Arts Centre English Theatre

"An utterly splendid performance... Brault is pure actor... a pleasure to watch."
- The Sunday Independent (Ireland)

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written and performed by Pierre Brault

directed by John Koensgen

lighting design by Martin Conboy

sound design by Marc Desormeaux


Blood on the Moon premiered at the 1999 Ottawa Fringe Festival in the Arts Court Theatre at 2 Daly Avenue. This building was once the Ottawa Courthouse and the actual site of the historical trial of James Patrick Whelan, and is immediately adjacent to the Carleton County Gaol, where Whelan was incarcerated and hanged, now the Ottawa International Youth Hostel.

A new, expanded version of Blood on the Moon was subsequently presented at the National Arts Centre in Ottawa and has since toured extensively throughout Canada and to Ireland.  Pierre Brault also adapted and starred in a television adaptation of Blood on the Moon which premiered on Bravo in December, 2007.

Blood on the Moon


Capital Critics’ Circle Award

Best Actor: Pierre Brault

Montreal English Critics’ Circle Award

Best Actor: Pierre Brault