Jimmy’s Hall at the Abbey


James Gralton, the true story of the only Irish man deported from his own country.

We went to see the stage adaptation of the Ken Loach film, Jimmy’s Hall in the Abbey theatre last week.  The play is directed by Graham McLaren with Richard Clements starring as Jimmy and Lisa Lambe as Oonagh.

The opening scene set in 1932, sees the title character, Jimmy Gralton returned from America to help his mother with the family farm in Leitrim.  Jimmy had left ten years previously after his socialist ideals got him in trouble with the clergy and local authorities. Jimmy had built a hall on his fathers land in Effrinagh, it was called the Pearse and Connolly Memorial hall and was a place where all were welcome and dancing, singing, poetry, art and politics could be discussed openly.

When Jimmy returns from America where he has gained citizenship, he reopens the hall, but once again the clergy are not happy and soon make an appearance, Jimmy defends the rights of local people and gives speeches highlighting local injustices, this puts him in the firing line and the government and the church soon conspire together to have him deported.

I didn’t realise it was actually more of a musical which I’m not generally a fan of, but I’m glad I went as this was a great production, it was more Ceili music and bodhrans, which I like.

The stage design was fantastic, as the stage of the Abbey was transformed into the tin clad country hall and as the audience took it seats we were treated to a hooley, as the main cast sang, danced and played instruments.

There was also an opening audio piece played with a excerpt from President Michael D. Higgin’s speech from September 2016, when he unveiled a plaque on the site of the original hall in Effrinagh, Leitrim. I plan to visit Effrinagh soon and see the plaque, as we drive through Carrick regularly.

The opening night of the play was held in Carrick-on-shannon in Leitrim, near to Jimmy Gralton’s homeplace of Effrinagh. I never got to see the film version so will be watching it in the next few weeks, the film was shot on location in Sligo and Leitrim.

Some scenes were shot on The Mall in Sligo, this 19th century building with the large porch on the Mall was used as the backdrop and street altered to resemble the 1930’s.

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Heartbreak House at the Abbey Theatre

On Friday evening, we had tickets for the play Heartbreak House at the Abbey Theatre, on Abbey street in Dublin 1.  We went into town and had a drink in The Oval bar on middle Abbey street and then went to the play, we managed to be 5 minutes late as we thought, doors open at 7.30 pm and the play was at 8pm, but lucky enough it had just started.

The play is written by George Bernard Shaw and is a period drama comedy, set in a Country house.  A retired Sea Captain and his two daughters and friends have a dinner party is the general gist of it.  It was based around the themes of love or lack of it and deception.  The costumes were great and the actors were all very talented, I enjoyed seeing the actor Don Wycherley, the guy who had a big house on the Quays, from Bachelors Walk, RTE’s TV show.

Heartbreak House Play at the Abbey Theatre, Dublin.
Heartbreak House Play at the Abbey Theatre, Dublin.

This was our second time at the Abbey Theatre, we went to the play Drum belly last year, which was a play set in the 1960’s about Irish American gangsters in New York, I thought it was very good.  We also saw the Abbey’s production of the Sean O’Casey play, Shadow of a gunman, but at the time the Abbey Theatre was undergoing asbestos removal and the plays were been staged in Belvedere College, it was nice to see inside Belvedere but I would like to see a Sean O’Casey play in the Abbey one day as well.



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