This was the first performance of my first play. How time flies!
When Bertie Ahern resigned on May 6th 2008 after 11 years as Irish Taoiseach and more than thirty years all told in the corridors of power, it was as a direct result of the fall-out that occurred from the treatment meted out to Irish businessman, Tom Gilmartin, which only emerged in its entirety at the conclusion of the Mahon Tribunal, which had sat for almost 15 years before reaching its conclusions in 2012.
Tom Gilmartin had emigrated to Luton in the 1950’s from Sligo, and over the years had built up a successful business in construction and engineering, in Luton and South East England. Now a multi millionaire he decided in the late 1980’s to invest his experience – and money – in some projects in Dublin, where unemployment was high, and where poverty had once again seen many young Irish people cross the water in the hope of a better life.
Tom had ambitious plans for several major retail developments in the city, which he hoped would provide work for hundreds, if not thousands, in the city, but little did he know that in order to do business in Dublin, senior politicians and public officials would want a slice of the action – in large amounts of cash.
Embittered and impoverished by his experiences, Tom finally blew the whistle on the corruption at the heart of government and the city’s planning system. His complaints resulted in the setting up in 1997, by order of the Oireachtas, of the Mahon Tribunal to look into ‘certain planning matters and payments’. Ironically, it was championed by none other than one Bertie Ahern.
Length…2 hours approx./Setting…Dublin 1990’s – 2000’s
Poem For The Pecker Dunne
Gather round this cold night by the campfire,and i’ll tell you a Tinkermans’ tale,
All about a great singer of Ireland,who triumphed where many have failed.
Born into a nomadic lifestyle,a horse drawn trailer it was his abode,
And he travelled the lanes of ould Ireland,and he travelled the dusty old roads.
“Sullivans John” to the road you have gone,Pecker Dunne wrote at eleven years young
And that was the dawn of his music career,and his wonderful story begun.
For he travelled the byways and highways,and could be found on a bright sunny day,
Playing songs down at Croke of the travelling folk,at the games of the old G.A.A
Well he sang of the Myxomatosis and he told of the ould Morris van,
And the tale of the Thirty foot trailer,and the songs of the travelling man.
And he gave us the songs of his people,where others had feared for to speak,
And he spoke out ‘gainst discrimination,and equal rights for his people did seek.
Well you’d find him not far from O’Callaghans Mills,in the famed banner county of Clare,
Down among all the horses and trailers at the world famous Spancil Hill fair.
And you’d find him out west into Galway and on the road up to Ballinasloe,
With his banjo and fiddle always close by at hand,for he always would put on a show.
Pecker drank with the great Richard Harris,a world renowned actor and drinker,
And starred in “The Good,Bad & Ugly”,not bad for an old Wexford Tinker!!
And he knew Eli Wallach and Oliver Reed,and he acted with the man Stephen Rea,
But he never denied that great traveller pride,on the open road Peckers’ heart lay.
Christy Moore never met with Bob Dylan,but he sang with the great Pecker Dunne,
So won’t you come now to me little daughter,won’t you come now to me little son.
For Pecker played with those brothers The Fureys,and Luke Kellys’ own Dubliners’ band,
With his own unique style that old banjo he played,and the greatest respect did command.
So always remember his music,and never then forget his face,
For he brought such joy unto his people,and he brought such pride unto his race.
For we are the Romany people,and in that we should suffer no shame,
Dunne,Barrett,Ward or other,travelling sister or brother,you should always take pride in your name.
So farewell to the tent and the trailer,and farewell to the old caravan,
And join me in praise of the great Pecker Dunne,of the Legend,Musician and Man.
For he shall be forever remembered,and his name it shall always live long,
Carried on by the travellers of Ireland,in their poems and in story and song.
(C)ProvoRhino. 9th June 2010.All Rights Reserved.
My play PECKER DUNNE – LAST OF THE TRAVELERS, is a musical biography of one of Ireland’s last great travelling musicians.
A play with music about the travelling musicians of Ireland, mostly concentrating on Pecker Dunne and Margaret Barry. They were both from travelling families, Tinkers, and were marginalised by Irish society. Looked down on, indeed persecuted for their way of life. Both were great singers and musicians, and along with the great Johnny Doran, did more to promote Irish traditional music than almost any other person of our times. Both are dead now and the play is set in a kind of imaginary ‘halting site’, where departed souls are temporarily resident while awaiting transport to somewhere permanent.
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THE MUNSTER EXPRESS 24th June 2014
ARTS & THEATRE COLUMN
COLLECTION OF PLAYS REVIEW Tom O’Brien
The Co Waterford-born playwright and novelist, Tom O’Brien has just had another successful three week run with another new play, No Blacks, No Dogs, No Poles, in London’s Pentameters Theatre. The play despite its provocative title with echoes of a time when ‘No Irish’ might have given it a London context, but this play is set in an Irish town. I was not able to attend its premiere, but Alan Cliff the (up to last year) Waterford-based playwright went along and gave me his considered opinion. Alan is studying theatre in Manchester.
He described the play as complex in structure with at least four aspects overlapping; the return of a son-in-law, who has married an Aboriginal Australian and this brings out themes of racism and bigotry; a revelation of another characters bi-sexuality; the introduction of drugs into the family via a hostage situation; the revelation of an illicit family member’s affair. The London reviews suggested some confusion with themes of racism, immigration, identity and a longing for the past, spiced with sexual repression.
To coincide with this production O’Brien has brought out a collection of three plays, all with Waterford connections, with the title, The Waterford Collection, and its three plays show the detail and proven ability of the author to forge a career for himself. I still find it hard to understand why no Irish or indeed no Waterford theatre group have as yet staged one of his plays. Stagemad Theatre Company were to do so, but it never came to rehearsal stage.
The cover is impressive with three pictures of the new bridge. The first play Queenie is a 5-hander and tells a poignant story of Victoria Dwan who has been institutionalised, and is now being ‘released’ back into the community. This features open-air stage dancing at Granagh Cross, as she wheels around an indigent accordion player in a pram. This seems so surreal and Beckettian, with a wild theatricality. Queenie is a troubled soul who has second-sight. The play is beautifully ‘threaded’ with music and songs.
The second play, Money From America, is a much darker play about two brothers and a farm. Lardy has spent a lifetime toiling on the Co Waterford farm for little reward, and his older brother Jack returns from America and sees the farm as his rightful inheritance. This conflict involves two female partners, who would not be out of place in a McDonagh play, and it has a dark and dangerous resolution.
The third play, Johnjo, is a one-hander, a monologue set in the late seventies, and is a study of Johnjo McGrath from cradle to grave, from the Comeragh’s to wartime England and the dark underbelly of the construction industry. This is a harsh unrelenting play, but it held my attention all the way, and it is filled with songs and music that is as nostalgic as it is ironic.
Such was the success of the recent Pentameters production that they will present another Tom O’Brien play in London in July, about the women in Brendan Behan’s life, and still no Waterford production. Liam Murphy
67, my first collection of poems is now available as an ebook by Tin Hut Tales, and will be available as a paperback in about two weeks time
Away from the hum and drum
Away from the hub and bub
Away from the whine and grind of this rusty city
Couldn’t take it, they will say
Well, let them
This place isn’t all it’s cracked up to be
I saw a man today selling boxes to homeless people
Business was brisk
Did you know that the stone from the Pyramids
Would build a wall round England ten feet tall?
They say John the Baptist was gay
Funny the thoughts that come into your head when you’re walking
There was an old woman who lived in a hovel
She didn’t have any shoes but no one cared
She fell down one day
The hospital put her in a trolley for a few weeks
Then sent her away
Back to her hovel, her piss-stained bed, her broken radio
Her clock that didn’t tick, her bare cupboards, her solitary chair
Carried her up three flights, stood her in front of a walking frame
Said ‘take care of yourself, dear’
The whole fucking world anaesthetised by indifference