04 Dec 2021

McDwyer launches Backstage play

The Black Olive Restaurant on Ballymahon Street was the venue for the launch of Backstage Theatre Group’s upcoming production, ‘Unforgiven’, which opens on Wednesday March 9 for a four-night run.

The Black Olive Restaurant on Ballymahon Street was the venue for the launch of Backstage Theatre Group’s upcoming production, ‘Unforgiven’, which opens on Wednesday March 9 for a four-night run.

Written by playwright John McDwyer, ‘Unforgiven’ is the last of the Leitrim Trilogy and is probably the most widely performed of the three.

Backstage Theatre Group President, Pat Joe McLoughlin, agreed with a recent assessment by the play’s director, Ollie Kenny, that compared John McDwyer’s work to John B Keane and Martin McDonagh.

“The characters are not stage Irish. You have managed to give them a depth, which isn’t what the Abbey was doing at one time – turning them into stage Irish for British consumption,” said Pat Joe, speaking at the launch, which was attended by McDwyer.

“I would have to say that John B, maybe in some of his plays, has overdone some of his characters in that respect as well, like the character of Dandy in The Field,” Pat Joe added.

Speaking about Unforgiven, a play he said was character-driven, Pat Joe said, “I can see in your characters that they do get to tell their story, especially what’s going on for them, and I have to compliment you on that. At the same time, you have managed to give those characters dignity as well and to me that’s your best achievement in your plays.”

Speaking at the launch, McDwyer said he has a particular fondness for Unforgiven, over the other two plays in the Leitrim trilogy, Lovely Leitrim and Callaghan’s Place.

“You can write plays to your heart’s content, but a playwright ain’t a playwright until somebody says they want to do that play. I was very fortunate when Lovely Leitrim was written that Gus Ward and Cornmill Carrigallen took it on and did the first production of it, so successfully.

“It gave me the confidence in my own work to go on from there,” said John, who has just finished writing his eighth play.

“A play is only as good as the number of times it gets produced. I get calls once a month looking for advice on writing plays. The first thing you have got to do is figure out if it’s going to be produced.

“I’ve been very fortunate with my plays, and I was absolutely delighted when Oliver (Kenny) asked me for the rights for it because my immediate reaction was that if he does half the job he did on Lovely Leitrim, this will be worth seeing.

“Michael Roper, who works a lot with us, still talks about that production. Any time I mention that someone is going to do Lovely Leitrim, he says ‘Ah it won’t be as good as the one in Longford’. It really was a special production.”

McDwyer says holiday commitments will mean he’ll miss the Longford production, but hopes that he’ll catch the production if it tours.

Director of the play, Ollie Kenny, paid tribute to those who have worked hard behind the scenes, including the play’s producer Robert Logan.

He also thanked the play’s sponsors, Black Olive Restaurant, Tally Ho Bar, Longford, Declan’s Barbers and

The play opens on Wednesday, March 9 for a four-night run until March 12. The first night is a charity night for the Longford Branch of St Vincent de Paul. Tickets for the show €15/€12.50 available from Backstage on 043-3347888, Farrell Coy, Longford town or online at

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