From THE SHAMROCK SHORE
(Following the international success of his play, ‘Kings of the Kilburn High Road,’ THE SHAMROCK SHORE is the second in Jimmy Murphy’s projected trilogy of plays about the Irish emigrant experience in England. The scene is Manchester. The body of a young Irishman, a soldier in the British army who has been killed in ‘friendly fire’ in Afghanistan, has been brought back to England for burial.)
ROSIE That’s not all we brought over…Jack, give us up me bag there please.
JACK HANDS ROSIE THE BAG AND SHE TAKES OUT A SMALL PACKAGE FROM IT.
ROSIE Seeing as he’s being buried over here I thought-
EDDIE And why wouldn’t he? Wasn’t England his home?
ROSIE He was born in Cork.
EDDIE Loved Manchester, every stick and stone in it.
JACK He never forgot Ireland though. Never forgot where he was born.
EDDIE DOESN’T LOOK AT JACK WHEN HE SPEAKS.
EDDIE Just ‘cause you’re born on a farm, don’t make a man a pig.
JACK He may have been rared over here. But he was an Irishman, British soldier or not.
EDDIE FACES JACK FOR THE FIRST TIME.
EDDIE Loyal Irish soldier…and proud of it.
JACK Irish soldiers are in the Irish Army.
EDDIE Irish Army? LAUGHS. Irish fucking army? For what…the invasion of the Isle of Man? Full frontal assault on Jersey? Irish army my arse.
ROSIE BREAKS THE SILENCE.
ROSIE Make sure that comes in the car with us, won’t you?
BARRY What in the name of God is it?
JACK From your nanna and granda’s grave.
EITHNE Oh Rosie…
ROSIE A little bit of Ireland to throw in on his coffin and keep him company.
TOUCHED BY THE GESTURE, EITHNE TAKES THE BAG AND HOLDS IT TO HER BREAST. EDDIE LOOKS AT BARRY AND THROWS HIS EYES UP.
JACK I needn’t tell yous the trouble we had getting it through security. God only knows what they thought it was.
EITHNE PUTS THE BAG ON THE TABLE.
BARRY Thanks Rosie, it’s a lovely thought.
BARRY EXITS UPSTAIRS. EDDIE TOSSES IT OFF THE TABLE ONTO THE FLOOR.
EDDIE Get that muck off the table, I have to eat there!
JACK Now hold on a minute you.
ROSIE CUTS IN BEFORE AT FIGHT ERUPTS AND PUTS THE BAG ON THE CUPBOARD.
ROSIE Look can yous two not put your differences aside for today, huh…at least for Paddy’s sake? The lad’s owed that much.
EDDIE AND JACK HOLD EACH OTHER’S GAZE.
ROSIE Jack, go on. For today at least?
EDDIE ARROGANTLY SHRUGS HIS SHOULDERS.
EDDIE I’m ready to let bygones be bygones…have been for years.
JACK IS STILL HESITANT. EDDIE HOLDS OUT HIS HAND.
JACK TAKES IT AND THEY SHAKE, EVER SO BRIEFLY AND SPEAK AWKWARDLY.
JACK Sorry for your loss. Eddie.
EDDIE Thank you.
JACK He eh, he was a fine lad.
EDDIE He was.
JACK Image of your father.
EDDIE SMILES TO HIMSELF AND NODS.
EDDIE The spit of him.
A SILENCE HANGS.
EITHNE Well come on everybody. Tea’s getting cold.
EDDIE HEADS TO THE DOOR.
EDDIE I’m eh…I’m going out for a smoke. Don’t linger over that, funeral car’ll be here any minute.
EITHNE He declared it a “no smoking” house a while back.
Mind you, I break the rules meself now and again so feel free if you want to light up.
ROSIE Off them.
JACK The two of us. Must be what, seven years now.
EITHNE Well, might take a leaf out of your book and kick them myself.
ROSIE It’s never too late Eithne…
A SIGNIFICANCE IN ROSIE’S LAST WORDS.
ROSIE …for anything.
EITHNE LOOKS AT ROSIE THEN LOOKS AWAY.
EITHNE Jameson. Me poor father loved his Jameson.
JACK A little too much, God be good to him.
SHE POURS A DROP INTO HER TEA.
EITHNE Give us over your cup there Rosie.
EITHNE A little top up.
ROSIE God no, at this hour Jesus Eithne, are you mad?
EITHNE Jack? You’ll have a drop.
JACK I will in me arse. Jaysus.
JACK Just something me and Rosie discussed before EITHNE Ah come on, surely you’re not going to let me drink on my own now, are you?
ROSIE It’s a bit early, isn’t it?
EITHNE SEEMS OFFENDED.
ROSIE Go on so…a tiny, little drop then.
EITHNE Good girl.
EITHNE POURS A SMALL DROP INTO ROSIE’S CUP.
EITHNE You’re very good for coming over at such short notice.
JACK Don’t be silly.
EITHNE There’s been hundreds of well wishers dropping by, friends, neighbours. But family. It’s at times like these when you need your own around you.
ROSIE You’ve been a long time without your own around you Eithne.
EITHNE REFLECTS BRIEFLY.
EITHNE Don’t need anyone to remind me of that Rosie.
ROSIE Too long a time, maybe.
JACK REPRIMANDS ROSIE.
JACK That’ll do.
ROSIE No Jack.
JACK That’ll do, I said.
EITHNE What is it?
coming over. She seems to have forgotten it.
ROSIE For God’s sake Jack...
JACK You swore Rosie, you promised me.
ROSIE LOOKS AWAY AND WALKS OVER TO EITHNE. ROSIE SITS IN A QUITE RAGE.
ROSIE Have you any idea how long it’s been?
EITHNE IS TRYING TO MAKE LIGHT OF IT. BARRY RETURNS FROM UPSTAIRS WITH HIS JACKET ON.
EITHNE God. Must be six at least.
ROSIE Six? D’you hear her, six. Try bloody nine Eithne!
EITHNE PRETENDS SHE IS SHOCKED.
EITHNE Nine years? No. No it can’t that long…surely?
ROSIE Rory’s wedding.
EITHNE Ah no.
BARRY They’re right Mum. My Conor was just born.
ROSIE And even then it had been five years before that.
EITHNE I always mean to but…
ROSIE And I don’t know about you, but I doubt I’ve 9 left.
EITHNE Rosie! You mustn’t talk like that.
ROSIE Three times Eithne, three time in the last sixteen years you’ve been home.
EITHNE I know I should go more often.
ROSIE Go for good, that’s what you should do!
JACK IS ANGERED AT THIS, HE JUMPS UP, SPEAKING LOW, WITH A WARNING IN HER VOICE.
JACK Now that’s enough you!
ROSIE IGNORES JACK
ROSIE At that rate there’ll be no one left to come and visit.
JACK Rosie, I’m warning you.
ROSIE Why have you stopped coming home? Why?
JACK TAKES ROSIE ASIDE.
JACK You promised me you wouldn’t bring it up…that’s why I came over with you, you promised.
ROSIE You came over for your nephew’s funeral!
BARRY What the bloody hell’s going on?
ROSIE Just keep out of this Jack, please? Keep bloody out of it!
JACK And what about him, huh? Have you thought about Eddie Kelly-
ROSIE -don’t mind-
JACK -following her over, they way he always did in the past-
JACK -arriving at the door full of drink, making a show of us until he come her to go back here with him-
ROSIE -it’s different now.
JACK Different how?
ROSIE He’s old.
JACK RAISES HIS VOICE.
JACK Old? He’s still a fucking bastard, isn’t he? Still a fucking cunt.
BARRY Hey! That’s enough now.
JACK Look it’s not you Eithne. You know I’d take you in any day of the week. I’m just…just too old for all that carry on again.
HE LOOKS AT ROSIE.
JACK Too old Rosie.
JACK EXITS TO THE TOILET.
BARRY (BEAT) What the bloody hell was all that about?
ROSIE PULLS A SHEET OF PAPER FROM HER POCKET AND HANDS IT TO EITHNE.
EITHNE What’s this?
ROSIE It’s how you fly nowadays Eithne. You just print it off, show it at the check in and you’re off.
ROSIE I had Eileen do it for me yesterday. One cent it cost. One bloody cent. What had I got to loose?
AS EITHNE READS THE SHEET.
ROSIE I know you, you’d say you’d be over in a week, a month. Put it on the long finger and leave it there just like every other time.
EITHNE HANDS BARRY THE VOUCHER.
ROSIE It’s just for a couple of days, that’s all, a week or so.
It’d do her the world of good Barry, wouldn’t it?
BARRY I’m sick and tired telling her to pop over. But you may as well be talking to the wall.
EITHNE I. I don’t know what to say…
ROSIE Say yes.
EITHNE But it’s all so sudden…so quick.
ROSIE So what? Just throw a few things into a bag and you’ll be grand.
EITHNE And where would I stay?
ROSIE Where would I stay? With us of course.
EITHNE LOOKS AT THE VOUCHER IN SILENCE.
ROSIE GOES TO EITHNE’S SIDE AND KNEELS.
ROSIE I’ll look after everything, you won’t need a penny.
EDDIE ENTERS AND SLAGS ROSIE.
EDDIE Jaysus, what she’s doing? Proposing to her!
ROSIE LAUGHS TO HIDE HER EMBARRASSMENT AND GETS TO HER FEET. EDDIE DRINKS BACK SOME WATER AND SEES THE VOUCHER.
EDDIE What’s all this?
ROSIE TRIES TO TAKE IT UP BUT EDDIE GRABS IT.
BARRY Rosie was thinking of bringing Mum back to Ireland for a little break.
EDDIE Oh was she now? Don’t see my name included in this little trip.
JACK She needs to be around family.
EDDIE Doesn’t need to go to Ireland for that.
JACK No more than she needs you to answer for her.
THEY HOLD EACH OTHER’S GAZE UNTIL;
BARRY Look, maybe now isn’t the time?
ROSIE And when is the time? We’ll be gone this evening.
EITHNE If you’d have told me before hand…a bit of notice.
ROSIE A gold plated invitation? Courier delivered?
EITHNE Maybe in a couple of weeks, when I’m back to meself again.
ROSIE TAKES THE VOUCHER, ROLLS IT INTO A BALL AND TOSSES IT ASIDE.
ROSIE A couple weeks turns into a couple of months, a couple of months into a year and before you know it another nine years have gone and it’ll be someone else’s funeral.
EITHNE I’m just-
ROSIE Just what Eithne? Just what!
ROSIE It’s always something isn’t it? I’m sick, I’m broke…the cat had bloody kittens!
ROSIE RIPS OPEN THE BAG OF EARTH AND SCATTERS IT ALL OVER THE FLOOR.
EDDIE What the hell!
ROSIE You’re in more need of this than poor Paddy. For it’s the closest you’ll ever get to home again.
EDDIE IS DISTRACTED WHEN HE SPOTS THE WHISKEY OPENED.
EDDIE I don’t fucking believe it…
HE LIFTS UP THE BOTTLE AND SLAMS IT DOWN.
EDDIE You couldn’t wait till I turned me back, could you?
EITHNE Just a little drop in meself and Rosie’s tea, that’s all.
EDDIE I knew I should’ve hid it as soon as I saw it.
ROSIE What are you on about now?
EDDIE This one, she’s drunk, pissed.
EITHNE Not yet…but I’m working on it.
ROSIE She only had a drop, relax.
EDDIE Only a drop out of that one maybe. But she’s been at another bottle all morning.
BARRY Leave it out Dad.
EITHNE I’d just a glass earlier, to calm my nerves, isn’t that right Barry?
BARRY DOESN’T ANSWER. EDDIE SHOUTS.
EDDIE And what was it last night, was what it yesterday morning, what was it all last week and the week before that?
ROSIE Don’t shout at her like that.
JACK RETURNS FROM THE LOO.
EDDIE Your little sister here is a bloody alco, a piss can.
EDDIE Am I lying, am I? Am I lying.
BARRY DOESN’T ANSWER.
EITHNE Don’t be minding him, you know what he’s like.
EDDIE Morning, noon and night she’s half tanked. “I’m just nipping down to Tesco’s for a few things…” But that!
LIFTS UP WHISKEY.
EDDIE That! That’s all she ever brings back.
BARRY’S SILENCE SPEAKS VOLUMES AS HE FANS HIMSELF AT THE WINDOW.
JACK It’s a wonder she never turned to it years ago having to put up with you for a fucking husband.
EDDIE Oh that’s great, isn’t it? That’s typical. Always taking her side.
EDDIE Tea, coffee, if you can put whiskey in it Eithne here’s tried it. She thinks I don’t notice, can’t smell. Just the other day-
EDDIE -she said she had a cold and was sipping lemsips all day. Cold my hole, they were all laced with whiskey, every single one of them.
EDDIE SHOUTS BACK.
EDDIE What! What!
BARRY (BEAT) The funeral car’s here.
EDDIE TAKES A BEAT, COMPOSES HIMSELF.
EDDIE About fucking well time.
EDDIE GRABS HIS JACKET AND STORMS OUT.
BARRY Will you take the flowers out Rosie?
ROSIE Is it true? What he’s saying.
BARRY Please Rosie…the flowers.
ROSIE To hell with the flowers, what’s going on Barry?
BARRY LOOSES HIS PATIENCE.
BARRY Will you just take the fucking flowers Rosie…please!
JACK Relax, relax, I’ll take them.
JACK EXITS WITH THE FLOWERS. BARRY IS TRYING NOT TO BREAK DOWN AS HE PUTS EITHNE’S COAT AROUND HER SHOULDERS.
EITHNE Please, don’t make me go Barry, please.
BARRY Come on Mum.
BARRY GATHERS THE PHOTO, PIPES AND ALBUM THEN STEERS EITHNE OUT. EITHNE’S VOICE HAS MORE FEAR THAN SADNESS IN IT, SHE GRABS ROSIE, BOTH ARE IN IN TEARS
EITHNE I can’t do it Rosie-
ROSIE -I’m with you Eithne-
BARRY -please Mam-
EITHNE -I can’t bury my boy-
BARRY -Mam please-
ROSIE -we’re all with you love-
EITHNE -Oh Rosie, Rosie, Rosie what am I gonna do at all?
BARRY, TEARS IN HIS VOICE, STEERS HIS MOTHER OUT THE DOOR.
BARRY Mum, come on. You have to go.
EITHNE CALLS OUT.
EITHNE Paddy…oh my sweet little Paddy. Oh Jesus, Jesus help me.
THERE ARE TEARS IN ROSIE’S VOICE AS SHE LIFTS A HANDFUL OF EARTH IN TO HIS POCKET.
ROSIE Jesus get her out Barry! In the name of Christ Barry, will you get her out!
BARRY Come on Mum, come on…
BARRY EVENTUALLY LEADS EITHNE OUT THE DOOR. ROSIE IS ENGULFED IN TEARS. SHE LOOKS AROUND THE HOUSE IN SILENCE THEN PICKS UP A CHAIR AND FLINGS IT ACROSS THE ROOM.
ROSIE God curse this house…
ROSIE …this fuckin’ prison. God curse it!
END OF ACT 1.