Abbey Theatre reveals Dear Ireland’s full line-up as plays begin online

Blindboy and Brendan Gleeson kick off series of 50 pieces on theatre’s YouTube channel

The Abbey Theatre has revealed the full line-up of writers and actors for the national theatre’s innovative digital premiere this week, of 50 new monologues exploring life during the Covid-19 crisis.

Pom Boyd’s piece is performed by Brendan Gleeson, Edna O’Brien’s by Stanley Townsend, and Nancy Harris’s by Marty Rea. Blindboy’s monologue is performed by Cathy Belton, and Joseph O’Connor’s by Kathy Rose O’Brien.

Dear Ireland, commissioned by the Abbey as a rapid response to the coronavirus outbreak, is a set of 50 monologues created in self-isolation by 50 writers and 50 actors. It will stream in four parts, on the Abbey's YouTube channel, at 7.30pm each day from today until Friday (and online for six months).

The 50 playlets offer a cross section of lockdown experiences. Dermot Bolger’s monologue, performed by Dawn Bradfield, was “written in the front room of the small terraced house in Drumcondra where I am self-isolating with a plethora of phantoms of imagination”.


Sinéad Burke, whose piece is performed by Eleanor Walsh, is at her Co Meath family home, “surrounded by siblings and attempting to be a horticulturist for the very first time. It’s going moderately well.” Sonya Kelly, “living in my home in Dublin 8 with my wife and surrounded by wonderful neighbours”, wrote for Deirdre Donnelly.

With a score by Ray Harman, and artwork by Maser, there’s a three-minute interval between monologues for audiences to join a live discussion with some of the artists in YouTube Live Chat.

The Dear Ireland pairings

1 Blindboy writing for Cathy Belton
2 Dermot Bolger for Dawn Bradfield
3 Pom Boyd for Brendan Gleeson
4 Sinéad Burke for Eleanor Walsh
5 TKB (Thommas Kane Byrne) for Ericka Roe
6 Dylan Coburn Gray for Leah Minto
7 Karen Cogan for Siobhán McSweeney
8 John Connors for Graham Earley
9 Kit de Waal for Peter Gowen
10 Shaun Dunne for Eva-Jane Gaffney
11 Iseult Golden for Marion O'Dwyer
12 Stacey Gregg for Conor MacNeill
13 Sarah Hanly for Denise Gough
14 Nancy Harris for Marty Rea
15 David Ireland for Abigail McGibbon
16 Colm Keegan for Owen Roe
17 Sonya Kelly for Deirdre Donnelly
18 Deirdre Kinahan for Bríd Ní Neachtain
19 Emmet Kirwan for Emmet Kirwan featuring Mike Donnelly
20 Darach Mac Con Iomaire for Eoin O Dubhghaill
21 Manchán Magan for Bríd Criomhthain
22 Aoife Martyn for Norma Sheahan
23 Owen McCafferty for Patrick O'Kane
24 Rosaleen McDonagh for Sorcha Fox
25 Frank McGuinness for Joan Sheehy
26 Meadhbh McHugh (New York) for Clare O'Malley
27 Una McKevitt for Katherine Lynch
28 Phillip McMahon for Caoilfhionn Dunne
29 Andrea Molino (Italy) for David Moss
30 Gina Moxley for Timmy Creed
31 Jimmy Murphy for Clare Dunne
32 Zoe Ní Riordáin for Seána Kerslake
33 Edna O'Brien for Stanley Townsend
34 Eva O'Connor for Amy McAllister
35 Joseph O'Connor for Kathy Rose O'Brien
36 John O'Donovan for Nicola Coughlan
37 Mark O'Halloran for Andrew Bennett
38 Jody O'Neill for Marie Mullen
39 Shane O'Reilly for Amanda Coogan
40 Felicia "Felispeaks" Olusanya for Deirdre Molloy
41 Margaret Perry for Breffni Holahan
42 Ursula Rani Sarma for Owen McDonnell
43 Arthur Riordan for Rory Nolan
44 Ciara Elizabeth Smyth for Camille Lucy Ross
45 Abbie Spallen for Jolene O'Hara
46 Keith James Walker for Ashleigh Dorrell
47 Enda Walsh for Zara Devlin
48 Michael West for Mark Doherty
49 Carmel Winters for Lucianne McEvoy
50 Zhu Yi (China) for Julia Gu

Deirdre Falvey

Deirdre Falvey

Deirdre Falvey is a features and arts writer at The Irish Times