The Golden Thread: Irish Women Playwrights, Volumes 1 & 2

BookThe Golden Thread: Irish Women Playwrights, Volumes 1 & 2

The Golden Thread: Irish Women Playwrights, Volumes 1 & 2


July 1st, 2021





This two-volume edited collection illuminates the valuable counter-canon of Irish women’s playwriting with forty-two essays written by leading and emerging Irish theatre scholars and practitioners. Covering three hundred years of Irish theatre history from 1716 to 2016, it is the most comprehensive study of plays written by Irish women to date. These short essays provide both a valuable introduction and innovative analysis of key playtexts, bringing renewed attention to scripts and writers that continue to be under-represented in theatre criticism and performance. Volume One covers plays by Irish women playwrights written between 1716 to 1992, and seeks to address and redress the historic absence of Irish female playwrights in theatre histories. Highlighting the work of nine women playwrights from the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, as well as thirteen of the twentieth century’s key writers, the chapters in this volume explore such varied themes as the impact of space and place on identity, women’s strategic use of genre, and theatrical responses to shifts in Irish politics and culture. Volume Two contains chapters focused on plays by sixteen Irish women playwrights produced between 1992 and 2016, highlighting the explosion of new work by contemporary writers. The plays in this volume explore women’s experiences at the intersections of class, sexuality, disability, and ethnicity, pushing at the boundaries of how we define not only Irish theatre, but Irish identity more broadly. CONTRIBUTORS: Conrad Brunström, David Clare, Thomas Conway, Marguérite Corporaal, Mark Fitzgerald, Shirley-Anne Godfrey, Úna Kealy, Sonja Lawrenson, Cathy Leeney, Marc Mac Lochlainn, Kate McCarthy, Fiona McDonagh, Deirdre McFeely, Megan W. Minogue, Ciara Moloney, Justine Nakase, Patricia O'Beirne, Kevin O'Connor, Ciara O'Dowd, Clíona Ó Gallchoir, Anna Pilz, Emilie Pine, Ruud van den Beuken, Feargal Whelan, Nelson Barre, Mary Burke, Shonagh Hill, Mária Kurdi, José Lanters, Dorothy Morrissey, Brian Ó Conchubhair, Brenda O'Connell, Shane O'Neill, Graham Price, Siobhán Purcell, Carole Quigley, Sarah Jane Scaife, Melissa Sihra, Clare Wallace

This inspiring collection explores the important counter-canon of plays by Irish women over 300 years.

  • The most comprehensive and far-reaching study of plays written by Irish women to date. 
  • Draws on rare archival sources to recover and re-contextualise key plays by Irish women. 
  • Intersectional analyses highlight issues of gender, class, sexuality, and disability. 
  • Short chapter format acts as an accessible introduction to a counter-canon of Irish theatre. 
  • Features essays by numerous leading scholars in Irish theatre studies and Irish women’s writing, as well as important Irish theatre practitioners.

Author Information

David Clare is Lecturer in Drama and Theatre Studies at Mary Immaculate College, University of Limerick. Fiona McDonagh is Lecturer in Drama and Theatre Studies at Mary Immaculate College, University of Limerick. Justine Nakase is Adjunct Lecturer at Portland State University.

Table of Contents

Section TitlePage
Volume 1
David Clare, Fiona McDonagh & Justine Nakase
“There’s no Place like old England”: Space and Identity in Mary Davys’s The Northern Heiress; Or, the Humours of York (1716)
Marguérite Corporaal
“Some tender scenes demand the melting tear”: Frances Sheridan’s The Discovery (1763) and the Vindication of “Sentimental Comedy”
Conrad Brunström
Irish Wit on the London Stage: Elizabeth Griffith’s The Platonic Wife (1765)
Clíona Ó Gallchoir
Deceptive Disabilities in Maria Edgeworth’s The Double Disguise (1786): Irish Patriotism, Consumption, and the Martial Male Body
Sonja Lawrenson
Reimagining Maria Edgeworth’s The Knapsack (1801) for a Contemporary Young Audience
Fiona McDonagh & Marc Mac Lochlainn
Mary Balfour’s Kathleen O’Neil (1814): An Expression or Betrayal of Her Ulster Scots Background?
David Clare
Justice and the “Triple Goddess” Archetypes in Anna Maria Hall’s Mabel’s Curse (1837)
Ciara Moloney
Operas without a Hero: A Comic Trilogy (1876–1879) by Elena Norton and Mary Heyne
Mark Fitzgerald
“Petticoats!—petticoats! petticoats!”: Sartorial Economics in Clotilde Graves’s A Mother of Three (1896)
Justine Nakase
From Gort to Antarctica: Lady Gregory’s Audiences and The Rising of the Moon (1903)
Anna Pilz
Lady Gregory’s Grania (1912): Myth and Mythology
Shirley-Anne Godfrey
“You have let the play go to pieces”: Geraldine Cummins and Susanne R. Day’s Fox and Geese (1917) and the Hegemony of the Early Abbey Theatre
Thomas Conway
“Something left over from the Eighteenth Century, undergoing a slow process of decay”: The Impotence of the Ascendancy in Mary Manning’s Youth’s the Season–? (1931)
Ruud van den Beuken
Shape Shifting the Silence: An Analysis of Talk Real Fine, Just Like a Lady (2017) by Amanda Coogan in Collaboration with Dublin Theatre of the Deaf, an Appropriation of Teresa Deevy’s The King of Spain’s Daughter (1935)
Úna Kealy & Kate McCarthy
The Premiere Staging of Mount Prospect (1940) by Elizabeth Connor (the Pen Name of Una Troy) at the Abbey Theatre
Ciara O’Dowd
Corruption and Socio-Political Tensions in Christine Longford’s Tankardstown (1948)
Kevin O’Connor
Social Class, Space, and Containment in 1950s Ireland: Maura Laverty’s “Dublin Trilogy” (1951–1952)
Cathy Leeney & Deirdre McFeely
Máiréad Ní Ghráda’s An Triail/On Trial (1964): Hiding Hypocrisy in Plain Sight
Feargal Whelan
Christina Reid: Acts of Memory in Tea in a China Cup (1983), The Belle of the Belfast City (1989), and My Name, Shall I Tell You My Name (1989)
Emilie Pine
Anne Devlin: Depicting a Gendered Journey: Men and Women on The Long March (1984)
Megan W. Minogue
A Partial Eclipse: The Role of the Religious in Patricia Burke Brogan’s Eclipsed (1988 / 1992)
Patricia O’Beirne
Coda – What the Woman Sees: Waking Up to Feminist Aesthetics
Cathy Leeney
Volume 2
David Clare, Fiona McDonagh & Justine Nakase
Marie Jones’s Don’t Look Down (1992): Representations of Disability for Young Audiences
Fiona McDonagh
Lesbianism and Legibility in Emma Donoghue’s I Know My Own Heart (1993)
Shonagh Hill
Learning to Play Poker: The Re-vision of Irish Women’s Agency in Gina Moxley’s Danti-Dan (1995)
Nelson Barre
Directing Marina Carr’s By the Bog of Cats… (1998) in China
Sarah Jane Scaife
Ursula Rani Sarma’s Blue (2000) and Social Transformation in Ireland
Shane O’Neill
Challenging “Good Taste”: Roslaeen McDonagh’s The Baby Doll Project (2003) and the Creation of a “Traveller Canon”
Mary Burke
Disordered States and Affective Economies in Stella Feehily’s O Go My Man (2006)
Clare Wallace
Living in a Rape Culture: Gang Rape and “Toxic Masculinity” in Abbie Spallen’s Pumpgirl (2006)
Carole Quigley
Marina Carr’s Woman and Scarecrow (2006) and the Ars Moriendi
José Lanters
Lizzie Nunnery’s Intemperance (2007) and Compromised Mental Health among the Irish in Britain
David Clare
Memory, History, and Forgetting in Anne Devlin’s The Forgotten (2009)
Graham Price
“We are here, we were here all along”: Queer Invisibility and Performing Age in Amy Conroy’s I (Heart) Alice (Heart) I (2010)
Brenda O’Connell
Motherhood and the Search for Recognition in Deirdre Kinahan’s Moment (2011)
Dorothy Morrissey
“Unrealing the Real”: Disability and Darwinism in Lynda Radley’s Futureproof (2011)
Siobhán Purcell
Family Dysfunction and Character Dynamics: Nancy Harris’s Our New Girl (2012) in Conversation with Marina Carr’s Portia Coughlin (1996) and Martin Crimp’s The Country (2000)
Mária Kurdi
Unconscious Casting: Stacey Gregg’s Shibboleth (2015), Walls, and the (En)Gendering of Violence
Justine Nakase
Nevertheless, She Persisted: Celia de Fréine’s Luíse (2016)
Brian Ó Conchubhair
Coda – Spinning Gold: Threads of Augusta Gregory and Marina Carr
Melissa Sihra