RTE Dtama on One, 23 June 2012
Set in Ireland and London during the 1950s and 1960s, A Galway Girl
involves a couple, Maisie (Clare Barrett), and Dermot (Joe Hanley) talking about their married life. They seldom
communicate with one another, choosing instead to disclose their ideas direct to the listeners. Yet this seems somehow
appropriate for a couple who seem totally incompatible with one another. Maisie, a well-brought up village girl, is
close to her mother and very much concerned with outward appearance; Dermot thinks of himself as working-class and proud of
it - although perpetually justifying his actions, he is also a violent bully, especially after he has had a jar or three.
But this is a society where divorce isn't an option - all Maisie can do is to learn
how to cope with a husband who neglects his children, goes off on his own at will and expects his spouse to comply.
We admire her stoicism as she follows him to London in search of a better life, and ends up trying to support him as he contracts
emphysema. Yet Dermot is not all bad; his main problem lies in not being able to find a niche in life. He can
only find two ways of dealing with frustrations - alcohol and violence.
In the end the two ill-matched partners are reconciled on Dermot's death-bed.
In a touching moment of recognition, Maisie understand that he has loved her all along, but could never find the means of
saying so in a rigidly stratified society whose gender roles are inviolate: men must show their strength but never admit their
emotions, while women stay at home and pick up the pieces.
First staged at Bewley's Cafe Theatre in Dublin, Terry Byrne's production of Geraldine
Aron's one-acter is a powerful piece, with two stand-out performances from the actors.