Honor Molloy’s play “Crackskull Row,” which is directed by Kira Simring and stars Gina Costigan, John Charles McLaughlin, Terry Donnelly and Colin Lane, will be performed at the Irish Repertory Theatre from February 3 to March 19. Click here for ticket info and details. 


By Honor Molloy

Playwright Honor Molloy

My Father. John Molloy was born in 1929 and came of age during a bleak time in Ireland’s history when a third of the nation’s children left school at the age of fourteen. He was one such child.

He left because he couldn’t read. He couldn’t read because he was taught in Irish, an impenetrable language to a dyslexic boy. He left because he was flogged. He was flogged because he was a joker who subverted the Christian Brothers’ extreme disciplinary practices. He stood up for the persecuted. He drew attention to himself because he couldn’t shut up, wouldn’t shut up about the injustice happening in his world.

Home was no better than school. His father was a man quick with the belt and the fist. Dick Molloy beat his wife when she was pregnant and killed an unborn baby. He did this several times. He beat my father.

He beat his rage into his family again and again. But his anger, his disappointment in life was never put to rest.

Dick Molloy was a dairy farmer with a bad case of tuberculosis. The family hid his disease from the customers, but he couldn’t keep it from his son. He gave my father TB.

From the age of 17 to 23, my father toured the chest hospitals of Dublin. Conditions in the sanatoria were dire. The shame of being poor was added to the shame of being sick. A starvation diet and death all around.

My father left the sanatorium with half a lung and a burning desire for all the sex and booze and theater he could grab. A rogue and a charmer, he married his exact opposite: my mam.

Together they made theater and children and life was marvelous for a time. But my father was sinking into a sea of mental illness, addiction, self-annihilation. He was drowning.

And he was punching.

Any Irish person knows the particular way personal and national history are intertwined; we are cursed with an especially vivid sense of ourselves as figures in an historical continuum. As an eighth-generation Dubliner and expatriate, such is my lot.

Just before I turned five, the IRA celebrated the semi-centennial of the 1916 Easter Rising by blowing up Nelson’s Pillar. As granite chunks thundered down upon O’Connell Street, my father happened to be passing by. He picked up Lord Nelson’s sword and hid it under our couch. I always thought he brought war home in that sword because, soon after, my family was shattered to bits. And we fled to America without him.
  I can’t fix my father or repair our family, but I can try to understand why this happened. How. I took a long hard look at the illness and sadness. Hunger and bloodshed.

So, in my imagination, I walked down Dublin’s laneways to my childhood home – a carriage house behind the Georgians on Ely Place.

I went back into the black of Crackskull Row and dug up the stuff of the past – mine, and my homeland’s – the endless cycles and repetitions.

I mean. Can we not stop.

Crackskull Row is not a play, it’s an outcry.



Aedin Moloney
Aedin Moloney

I had the pleasure of attending a production of Airswimming at the Irish Repertory Theatre in New York City last night. The play, written by Charlotte Jones, is a Fallen Angel Theatre Company production presented in association with the Irish Repertory Theatre and co-starring Aedin Moloney and Rachel Pickup. The production is the brainchild and creation of its director John Keating and its producer, Aedin Moloney.


Aedin  and Rachel, who co-starred in the Irish Rep’s highly acclaimed production of Dancing at Lughnasa, once again bring their great chemistry to the stage and provide the audience with a wonderful evening of theatre. The play, based on the true story of two women who have been incarcerated in a hospital for the “criminally insane” for having borne illegitimate children, closes next weekend.


If you have an opportunity to get to the theatre this week, I highly recommend Airswimming. I must add, not only are my friends Aedin and Rachel brilliant actresses, but they are very vocal and supportive of other artists in the community and most deserving of our support.

Rachel Pickup
Rachel Pickup


A few snippets from recent reviews:


“As Dora, the no nonsense lifer who alternates between hope of escape and despair that it will never happen, actress Aedin Moloney inhabits the role so completely that her character leaps to life from the opening scene.”


“The chemistry between Moloney and Pickup is excellent. The two actresses connect on a deep level of understanding that is completely necessary in order to pull off a believable friendship developed for half a century.”


“Pickup…charismatic…does a spot-on impression of Doris Day.”


“Moloney is excellent as Dora, lending the character a type of no-nonsense masculinity with deadpan line deliveries and stiff posture.”


Here’s where you need to go for tickets: http://www.irishrep.org/boxoffice.html