Dear Ireland – COVID19 Postcard from Rosaleen McDonagh

Playwright Rosaleen McDonagh is among 100 writers asked to participate in The Abbey Theatre – Dear Ireland – theatrical postcards during COVID19. 

These are rapid response monologues written and recorded in self-isolation and are The Abbey Theatre’s way of supporting theatre during this crisis while also capturing this moment in our history. 

Rosaleen’s piece will be broadcast on Friday 1st May from 7.30pm on the Abbey Theatre’s You Tube channel

Below she introduces her work which will be performed by actor Sorcha Fox:

Roslaeen McDonagh

Walls and Windows

Julia, a young Traveller beoir.  Living in the hotel room she worries that her family will forget about her. She describes the hotel room, with the large windows, dirty walls. This description could be a psychiatric ward, a prison cell or a room in a direct provision. Julia could be any beoir. We are all only a short distance from feeling despair and banishment. Loneliness, isolation and a sense of having failed has become Julia’s mantra. She is desperate. Julia is a statistic

 The manager of the hotel doesn’t realise it’s her.  Julia is only one of the many Traveller beoirs that he turned away in their wedding dresses.  Mental health issues, addiction, sexism and racism have all come to the fore. Comparing and contrasting the luxury of living in a hotel room.

Her opening line ‘DEAR IRELAND, you will barely notice my absence’. Pacing up and down the room, staring at the dirty window, there is definite intent. Her children, two boys are being minded and reared by their granny. Her heart is retching. There is not an ounce of strength left inside of this beoir.

Throughout the monologue, Julia explains what happened. Living in an overcrowded site where there was no water or basic amenities. Her narration continues about her marriage and her husband’s suicide due to the stress of living in private rental accommodation. The ‘landlord’, rather than asking them to leave, put the rent up.

The family went back on the road in their trailer on the outskirts of a town. It was dangerous and it was hard to organize her children for school. Looking at old photographs of her mother and grandmother, when they were on the road, but not for a second did Julia think her children would be living on a dangerous part on the motorway.

Julia dreams of a different life. Striding up and down the room with a can in her hand, she knows she’s existing, but not really living. The longing to be back with her family is slowly killing her. The days are endless, the nights are filled with strange noises and voices. Her husband John is calling her. Her children no longer know their mama. Feelings of worthlessness are over whelming.

The windows in this hotel room are long and wide. Julia’s resilience is drained, there’s nothing left in her reserves. Racism and sexism smothered her, now no longer able to absorb the feeling of being squashed. Her dignity stolen. Life without her children and husband John is meaningless. Alcohol doesn’t numb the pain. Fear is her new reality. Everything; her home, her children, her husband, –they’ve been taken from her. There’s nothing of her left, not even her favorite song.