The Shame of Ireland

The Shame of Ireland

The Abbey Theatre in Dublin has said “We want to hear from communities who feel marginalised and silenced – we want to hear your stories!” – so this would be a rare chance for survivors, friends and families to work together on a project that could have a big impact. The 5 chosen groups get a week of professional help on their project paid for by the Abbey and 5,000 euros to help develop it for the stage – but they don’t need to finish everything in that week, it’s more to help pull the ideas together. The application only needs short answers to three questions, just 500 words in total – but you can send more material like photos, links or written material with the application.


The deadline is December the 15th, so Rob Northall and Jack Colleton encouraged me to post this for all members to urgently consider… I’d like to suggest that people here could put together their ideas for the application starting on this post.

If anyone would like any help or advice on applying, I’d be very willing to help (I used to work in Community Theatre in Dublin, in Ballymun and Tallaght). I wanted to make a few suggestions that could help with the application… If this was put together as a Community Theatre project based on the stories and oral testimonies of survivors, it would be a very powerful and important piece of theatre for stage or radio. Having the voices of survivors as the core of it would bring all the issues to life and finally let their voices be heard.


I suggest that the stories of survivors could be recorded and gathered to be used as the basis for a play – these testimonies could be recorded on a high-quality digital recorder. This would also create a historical archive so that survivors’ experiences could be remembered and preserved.

There would be six months or more before the week’s work in the Abbey, so that would give time to involve as many survivors and others impacted as possible. It would just need one survivor or family member to act as a co-ordinator who would keep an eye on things and OK the final application and send it in. As many survivors as want to get involved could add their ideas in and add their names into the material with the application. They could also add their own stories, testimonies, photos and so on.

Those survivors who have written about their experiences would be included too –so that six months would give time to gather written stories from as many people as possible. As well as their own stories, survivors could tell the stories of those who didn’t survive, or those deceased who never got the chance to tell their story. Some of these could maybe later be voiced by actors on stage, while any available photos and videos could be used as background material – projected onstage or on screens – with the true stories behind the photos being told… Their partners or family members could also have their testimonies recorded to give another perspective.


What would give extra weight to the application would be to emphasise that this isn’t really about something that happened in the past – for the survivors and their loved ones, it’s obviously happening right now. The effects of the abuse still go on, and the Church denials and official penny-pinching and neglect still continues (to put it very mildly!).

As they are looking for a “new idea”, maybe that could be it – to show in a powerful way how it is really still happening, and how abuse and its effects continues in different forms.
So if the survivors were able to tell the story of how their whole lives have been affected right up to today, it would give the “relevance” that these applications tend to want. It would also give a fuller picture of what the effects of sexual abuse, neglect, starvation and official denial can do to a person even many decades later.

The second stage after the gathering would be to bring in a writer or director or “dramaturg” (a fancy name for a person who edits and shapes stories for the stage). They would then have the job of shaping the stories into a play and putting them on paper into a script – the applicant and survivors group would then have to give feedback and suggestions.

That is one way of doing it anyway…. Please post any other ideas or suggestions you may have – the important thing is that an application goes in, whoever does it or whatever shape it takes. Many thanks for reading this!
Wishing you success in the application, Mark Lynch

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"What would give extra weight to the application would be to emphasise that this isn’t really about something that happened in the past – for the survivors and their loved ones, it’s obviously happening right now."

Absolutely Mark! 

Thanks, Jack...

When I was putting ideas together recently, I realized that there were a few options – one was to focus on survivors in Ireland – the other was to focus on those living abroad (mainly in Britain for practical purposes). Since the application is for Irish citizens who have been “silenced and marginalized”, those living outside Ireland may have have faced even more of this treatment. Those survivors living in Ireland have been treated appallingly -while those abroad have often been excluded and silences on top of that.

So the second option is to focus on survivors abroad – that would also give another reason why the play would feature their recorded voices, videos and actors speaking their words – because the people themselves can’t be there. This would be a way of bringing their stories home….

This way, too, people like yourself could be part of the project, by having your stories and experiences recorded. It would bring together the stories of exiles who may never have told their experiences – or met others who have been through the same thing. As well as being a kind of homecoming, it would also hopefully be an awakening for those in Ireland who think all the issues are done and dusted…

Hello Mark!

Fair Comment Mark!  You Have Really Hit The Mark There! 

I Am Not Good At Recording!  Audio Or Visual. Body Dysmorphia. Trauma Effects.

If you have questions or feedback, please contact us on fivebyfive@abbeytheatre.ie.

Jack I have a bit of a story if you have an email I could send it to to see what you think

Hello William.  Could Your Story Be Included In The Abbey Project?!   The Deadline For Submission Is 15th Of December 2017.  I Know Mark Lynch Would Be Fascinated By Your Story William!

Many thanks, Jack! William send me his story - it certainly tells is like it was....

I'll include any stories or statements I receive with the application, as I'm sure they are what will swing it either way - the directness and truth of them.

If anyone can't be or doesn't want to be recorded, they hopefully can contribute in another way, by writing a little of their experience or writing a statement of support for the proposal. That way, everyone can be part of it in their own way.

Others may have photos that could be copied - or even their own artwork, or whatever way they have found to express themselves. I'll include everything I can, one way or another.

Thanks and all the best, Mark

Hello Mark.  Just A Point  .....

If Actors Are Playing Survivors Parts Do You Think Survivors Still Need Use Their Own Names?

Good question, Jack! Survivors can choose to use their own names - or use another for public use, that would be fine. I'm going to keep an archive of everything I'm sent, so their names would stay attached to their story in the archive - so we know whose story belongs to who... Then I'll find a way to keep the archive of recordings and other material safe and available for the future.

Thanks Mark.  Name Changes Are An Issue For Some Survivors.  Some Of Us Had False Names And Birthdays! 

Yes, Jack - that would be an important issue to get across.

Stolen names and fake identities - and being treated as a number...

It reminds me of that 60's TV series "The Prisoner", where everyone becomes a number, everything is fake, and no-one can escape...

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