Dearest Old Darling
Jeananne Crowley and Mary Kenny.
One of the highlights, if not the highlight, of Clifden Arts Festival was the play Dearest Old Darling, written by Mary Kenny and performed before a packed and appreciative audience in the Station House Theatre by “Connemara’s very own star,” Jeananne Crowley.
Journalist Mary Kenny’s monologue draws on the prison letters of Constance Markievicz, a renowned feminist who would unquestionably have been one of the Me2 women of today.
Markievicz was a central figure in the Easter Rising and this year is the centenary of her election as the first woman in Britain and Ireland to be elected to the Westminster parliament.
The beautiful Crowley brought to life superbly the woman who became known as The Rebel Countess and spent five years of her life in prison, locked up as subversive by both the British and the Irish Free State.
The letters she wrote to her sister, Eva Gore-Booth, usually began with the endearment “Dearest Old Darling” and through them the Clifden audience experienced her recollections of dazzling social life in Dublin; her love of the Arts, gardening, animals and nature.
The monologue mingled Constance’s own words with recollections and evocations of her life and times, including a wonderful insight into of her marriage to Count Casimir Dunin de Markievicz, and her relationship with her daughter, Maeve.
Jeananne Crowley, an actress with wide experience in theatre, film, television and radio, shone like the star Festival programme director Des Lally described her as in his introduction to the play, which would be highly acclaimed in any theatre across the world.
She has appeared on the stage of the Abbey and Gate theatres in Dublin and has taken part in films, including Educating Rita, which was filmed in Galway.
Mary Kenny, a noted journalist, author and broadcaster in Ireland and England, has written for more than 30 newspapers over the course of her career.
Her performance on stage with Crowley was as polished and professional as one would expect from someone so skilled in her craft.