This page has extracts from the three plays that make up The Border Chronicles Trilogy, all of which were professionally produced and toured by Upstate Theatre Project between 1997 and 2007.

Scroll down or click the links to read :

Extract from Hades (1998):  Part 1 of The Border Chronicles

Extract from Epic (2001):  Part 2 of The Border Chronicles

Extract from At Peace (2007): Part 3 of The Border Chronicles

Full texts of these plays will be available to download from February 2012 on the PLAYOGRAPHYIreland website, or you can e-mail directly to order.
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(Part 1 of The Border Chronicles Trilogy – premiered 1998: revived 2007)

Extract:  Scene 10.

The town council chamber. A debate is in progress led by Cllr. Alice Green, the wise chairman. Murmurs and muttering.

Cllr. Green  Order. Order please! Cllr. Barney Belton, Fianna Fáil. Cllr Belton, you wished to speak.

Cllr. Belton Thank you Madame Chairman. My point is this. Ballinascaul needs to develop a broad tourism strategy.

Voices (ridiculing) Tourism? Ballinascaul?

Cllr Belton Tourism indeed. In the past, it is true, Ballinascaul was never seen as a place that tourists would want to go, but that’s all about to change, now that there’s peace. I therefore propose a twin strategy. (Dramatically) There are three parts to this twin strategy. Agri-tourism. Angling and the Arts! The three “F’s”

Cllr Green “F’s”, Cllr Belton?

Cllr Belton That’s right. Farming, Fishing and Fun.

Great hilarity. The chairman calls for order.

Cllr. Green Cllr Fintan Scallon, Sinn Féin. You wished to come in on this.

Cllr. Scallon Madame Chairman. I think Cllr. Barney has lost the run of himself here. Have you not forgotten, Barney a chara, that our lovely lakes are no longer fit for fishing, thanks to the agricultural pollution of recent years?

Cllr. Belton In fairness, in fairness – through the Chair. The farmers have cleaned up their act. The big Sweeney piggery out there has plans to install a bio-gas chamber. I have the plans of one here. (He holds aloft a crumpled drawing) Some of yiz down the chamber maybe can’t see. There’s an arra’ goin’ from the pig’s arse, down through a tube and into the bio-gas chamber. And there’s another arra’ comin’ up out of the bio-gas chamber, up through another tube, and into a Volkswagen car!

Loud laughter.

Cllr. Scallon Oh aye! We’ll have Volkswagens drivin’ round the town, fartin’ like men!

Great hilarity.

Cllr. Green Gentlemen, please! Have we lost all decorum?

Cllr Scallon With respect, Madame Chairman. We all applaud the recycling experiments, so colourfully described by Cllr. Belton. But the area has no overall anti-pollution strategy. We could have another slurry spill tomorrow.

Cllr. Green Councillor Cedric Atkinson, Fine Gael!

Cllr. Atkinson That man there. (He points a withering finger at Fintan Scallon) That man there has no right to speak about pollution. Lough Averna was poisoned for years before pig slurry was ever mentioned in this county … and there’s many that still believe they know the cause of it.

Uneasy murmurings.

Cllr. Scallon Here now. Don’t start that children’s ghost story again.

Cllr. Green Order!

Cllr. Atkinson (building up his thunder) For there’s many still believe that a man called Sandy Clarke, an elderly neighbour of mine, was killed by the IRA and dumped into one of the underground streams up there at the silver mines, 25 years ago, and that the poor man’s remains have decayed and polluted the streams and the lake with it! Maybe the Sinn Féin Councillor could shed some light on that?


Cllr. Green ORDER!!! ORDER!!! Clerk, you may strike that remark from the record. Councillors, I must implore of you at this delicate time in the Peace Process to refrain from old ways of conducting our debates! Extensive tests have discounted that particular theory many years ago. NOW! (Order is restored). It is imperative that that we send out suitable and modern signals from this chamber at a time when there is cross-border money floating about. Cllr. Belton has put an eminently sensible tourism proposal to us. I move that we commission a Feasibility Study immediately. Meeting over!

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(Part 2 of The Border Chronicles Trilogy – premiered 2001)

Extract:  PART 2:  SCENE 4

Ambient rhythms and church bells.  Cathbad is hearing something on his headphones.  He begins to chant: 


This is Cathbad – DJ Kaz,

the voice of ages,

bringing sound to the young

and news to the people. 

Today is Black Thursday. 

Listen now

to the bells of Mullaghboy church

as the farmers gather to pray. 

Listen to the bleating sheep –

a sound of every day that suddenly

chills the marrow. 

Listen to your radio now

as the poor Cooley farmers

line up to weep for Ireland,

as the women gather anxious

with children at bungalow doors,

like women at half doors

would have done

when news of famine hit these hills

one hundred and fifty years ago,

like women did not long ago

when news of murky murders

done for Ireland

echoed in the Lost Valleys of Cooley

and we wrung our hands and said

God help them all. 

God help them all today. 

The men are gathered now

at Ballymacscanlon waiting for news. 

Will there be a cull? 

How many sheep will die? 

Who will be first? 

Will there be burning pyres? 

What are we to do? 

What are we to do?

He creates the sounds of helicopters and gunshots.  Actors form a tableau suggesting the energy of untamed goats.  KAZ now assumes a news journalist’s tone and speaks through a distorting microphone: 

KAZHere, high on these breathtakingly beautiful mountains which once hosted the great epic battles of ancient Ireland and more recently were the scene of some of the most deplorable terrorist atrocities of the Troubles, a new war is underway.  Army marksmen in helicopters today killed 74 rare mountain goats, part of the mass cull of 21,000 cloven-hoofed animals on the Cooley Peninsula due to be slaughtered over the coming seven days. 

Actors react to gunshots as goats are blasted away.  Now the actors form and speak for the people of Cooley.

KAZListen to Fergus Rock.

FERGUSThey came to my house and I had to go up then a short lane to the father, at half-seven in the pelting morning rain and tell him.  He’s seventy seven and getting feeble in his oul’ age, but he never misses a day on the hill and I sez to him they’re comin’ for the sheep and he bruck down and cried for a minute and then he gathered himself and stood up and said send them up so, and then he said nothing for a minute and after a while he said, the childer below’ll find it very quiet when the animals is all gone, and I said, Aye.”

KAZListen to Petey Mc Enteggart:

PETEYI only ever had about thirty sheep.  More of a divarsion than a livelihood.  I don’t know if I’ll ever go back to it.  I’ll miss the crack at the mart.

KAZListen to Sarah Kavanagh: 

SARAHI never seen him cry till now.  He was on the phone to a neighbour and the neighbour told him we were next and he cried on the phone.

KAZListen to Big Pat Mc Sorley:

BIG PATI’m waiting every day for them to come.  So far, they’re staying the other side of the mountain.  But there’s rumours.  The waiting is killing me.

KAZListen to Rose Mc Cormick: 

ROSEThe phone rang the whole day with people cancelling bookings.  We had a wedding booked for June and the couple cancelled.  We had a party of twelve for tonight and they cancelled.  What will we do?

KAZListen to Simon Carlin: 

SIMONI feel grief and I feel anger.  I want to know who?  Who has brought this plague among us?  My sheep are no ordinary breed.  I can trace the lineage of these sheep back hundreds of years.  I have travelled to every corner of Britain and France and beyond for breeding stock to perfect this flock.  This is my culture, my artform.  It was my father’s culture.  And his father’s culture.  I want to know who brought this plague to England and I want to know who brought this plague to Ireland.  And above all,  I want to know who brought this plague to Cooley.” 

KAZListen to me.  I am Cathbad. In three weeks time there will not be a sheep left standing on those mountains.  The last time that mountain was bare of sheep was during the Hunger.  This is catastrophe.

The war spirits hover briefly above the mountains and then vanish.

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(Part 3 of The Border Chronicles Trilogy – premiered 2007)

Extract:  ACT 3 – Scene 7

Halloween Night.  Soft, soothing, aeroplane mood music.  During the voiceover that follows, a slow ritual movement sequence flows in from the edges of the stage – impressions of flight: Charity is propelled to her aeroplane seat, an item of human cargo.  She stares ahead and enters a dream.  The captain’s voice comes over and we see him in the elevated cockpit. It is the late Captain JJ Mc Inerney, local hero of Ballyrain (whose tragic death was reported earlier, in Act 2). 

CAPTAIN  Ladies and gentlemen, this is your captain speaking.  Welcome aboard this chartered plane to Lagos, Nigeria on this cold, October night, the holy night of the Dead, On behalf of the crew may I say that it gives me no pleasure at all to pilot this particular mission.  To carry you away from whatever dreams you might have harboured during your brief stay in Europe.  To carry you away from your new lives, away from your children in some cases and back to a place that you clearly do not want to go.  Back to a place that is not yet ready to receive you.  If you look out your right hand window you will see the snow covered midlands of Ireland where you had hoped to spend this evening.  For your information, a homeless man will die out there tonight of exposure in County Kildare; a 24-year old man will die in a single-vehicle road accident in Longford and further West, in Sligo, a woman will drive her husband’s jeep into a 200 foot deep quarry with her six week old infant strapped into a booster seat beside her.  In the North a man will be reported missing in suspicious circumstances after leaving a police station to return to the Republic of Ireland.  Tonight in Ireland there will be a festival of death.  But tomorrow we move on and life otherwise will continue quietly in Ireland without you.  We will fly down along the East coast, over the Dublin and Wicklow mountains, covered with a light fall of October snow this evening, and on down through Wexford and out across the channel to France, over Paris, Madrid, Gibraltar – cities and places whose very names speak of a proud but compromised European history, great cities swarming tonight with the descendants of occupiers, invaders, slaves, deportees, gypsies, transients and exiles; whose native citizens course with the mixed blood of Vikings, Galls, Normans, Celts, Arabs, Africans, Americans and Romans and yet who view you still as the threatening “Other”, the Outsider.  This is Captain JJ McInerney, late of Ballyrain, former Gaelic footballer and decorated Irish peace hero.  I apologise on behalf of the people of Ireland for this outrage, for the fact that in the lottery of migration, you are this week’s losers, fifty seven of you upon this intercontinental charter flight – fifty seven men and women expelled from a continent of millions of migrants.  I sincerely apologise for the fact that for a fraction of the money it cost to pursue you, detain you, transport you to Dublin airport, requisition this aeroplane and pay me, the cabin crew and the seventy eight policemen involved in this operation their overtime wages, we could have just granted you your simple wish to stay and work and raise your children in our midst.  …. (coughs) Well, there’s just one aircraft queuing ahead of us, now. We should get all clear from air traffic control any minute.  Please, fasten your safety belts and make sure your seat is in the upright position.

Music fades.  Charity is now on the aeroplane, her seat swivels slowly to face the audience.  She stares out the misty blue window and speaks:


Goodbye my little ones.

Goodbye Yemaya my calf,

Moses my lamb

and Joanna my little fawn,

my three babies.

God take care of you.

Goodbye Ogunseyi.  I hope my children found you,

I hope your hard heart can warm to my babies

Please take my little ones to my cousin in Ardee

Get Moses and Joanna to a primary school

where they can live and learn.

And get my big girl Yemaya to a secondary school

where she can sit her Leaving Cert and

grow up to be a good Christian woman

Goodbye Ballyrain. 

Goodbye good people of Ballyrain and thank you

for your gifts of money,

pressed into my hands when you crowded into the police station today

when news of my arrest spread across the town.

Fifty or more good people in that tiny place.

Thank you for trying to stop this outrage.

Goodbye Sergeant Reilly of Ballyrain.  You are a good man.

And your blessed, kind wife.  Please do not be angry with her

God spare me now.

The night is black.

I will not see my babies again.

The plane suddenly stops.  Captain JJ speaks over the intercom

CAPTAIN  Ladies and gentlemen.  We have been asked to return briefly to the terminal building.  Mrs Charity Oshunwami.  There has been a review of your case.  You are free to leave this aeroplane.




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