“A Statue for Ballybunion” is based on my short story and tells a tale that should have deep meaning today. Although it is set in 1998, it speaks to a disillusionment that has always been present in the Irish, those that left their home and those that stayed. It was not a time of Skype and Facetime, and we know the speed of the Irish postal service: those exiles were leaving forever. It is no idle jibe that their going away parties were called “American wakes.” My grandparents emigrated from Ireland at the dawn of the 20th century, much later sparking my interest in the experience of such immigrants that flocked to our Valley, then and now. When I first went to Ireland myself in the ’60s and began to immerse myself in her history with my MA thesis on Irish nationalism, I discovered an equal interest in those that stayed behind and why.
This story concerns a man and his home. It is a love story about that home and a parallel one with his daughter. This town on the edge of the Atlantic is fighting for its self-respect and very survival. This struggle mirrors the one Ireland faced then and in some ways always has. Here we enter a strange but oddly familiar place where things are not always as they seem. As in all such stories, there is a real humor in the lives of many of the characters and incidents as well as a deep sadness. Into this mix arrives President Bill Clinton and the momentous events swirling around the Peace Process attempting to end the savage “Troubles” – he is also staring at his own impending impeachment. Almost each and every major event is just as it actually happened in that fateful year, on that very day and all the astonishing events leading up to it. This play tells the story of how, through a visit and statue, a president gets an unexpected bow and this town works toward its salvation.
I hope you enjoy their story,