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Troubles West End role in The Ferryman 'cathartic' says niece of man disappeared by IRA

Belfast-born actress Laura Donnelly, left, is starring in The Ferryman on the West End. Picture by Johan Persson

A NORTH Belfast actress has described how she was inspired by the disappearance and murder of her uncle to take on a role in a new Troubles-era play on the West End.

Laura Donnelly said telling the story of Disappeared victims in the play, The Ferryman, had been "very carthartic".

In an interview in today's Women Talk, Ms Donnelly reveals how her mother encouraged her to accept the part in the drama.

The actress, who has previously starred in The Fall, was just a child when her uncle Eugene Simons (26) was abducted from his home near Castlewellan, Co Down by the IRA in 1981. He was shot dead and his body dumped in a bog.

Three years later his body was discovered by chance in a bog near Dundalk.

The Ferryman is set on a farm in Co Armagh in the 1980s and Ms Donnelly plays a woman whose husband's body is uncovered a decade after he was secretly buried.

Set around the time of the Hunger Strike, the drama concerns a family unravelling after the discovery.

Ms Donnelly said she had been inspired by her family's personal tragedy. Picture by Johan Persson

"My mum was very encouraging about this being spoken about as it’s one of the most traumatic elements for so many people involved in story of the Disappeared," said Ms Donnelly.

"Things like this just don’t get discussed.

"The silence can be very hurtful and it doesn’t help heal any wounds. My mum thought it could be very cathartic for the play to be written and she encouraged me to act in it."

Full interview here

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