The Parting Glass .pdf

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THE PARTING
GLASS
‘This piece is an ode to the fragility of life, the
love of one mother and the strife of a nation’

Written by Olivia Dowd and Daniel Rodgers
Directed by Rob Thomson

1

Opening
A member of the ensemble sings ‘Shamrock Shore’ downstage.
Meanwhile the band and actors filter on. Once everyone is in
place, she stops and the band play a tune, in the style of a
session. We hear 10 seconds of great folk music as Jimmy makes
his way from the Tavern to the Home. The music stops once he
reaches home.

Scene 1 – Family opening (Orlaith, Jimmy, Corey, Brian)
(Lights up on Orlaith by the sofa and a pink iced bun on the kitchen
table. She looks towards Jimmy who is standing by the kitchen table,
unlit.)
Orlaith: Don't.. you.. dare..
(pause)
I swear to God...
(pause)
( Lights up on the son. He honks down the pink iced bun left on the
table.)
Orlaith: That is my feckin’ bun you slinky bastard!
Jimmy: Ach I'm sure it was, but if it so concerned you, you'd have
eaten it earlier.
Orlaith: No fuck off I was saving it!
Jimmy: You're a wee bitch sometimes, I haven't eaten a thing all day.
Orlaith: Spit it out gobshite
Jimmy: Knacker
( Corey clambers in, struggling beneath the weight of dishes.)
Corey: Son, now!

2

Jimmy: What mammie? She's been such a wee cow to me, you know she ate
my bun?
Orlaith: I can't believe this!
Corey: Did you so? How many times have I told you, don't pick on your
brother just because he's the wee'un.
( Orlaith sticks her middle finger up at the son)
Brian: (Comes behind Corey) The older the fiddle, the sweeter the
tune!
Corey: Excuse me! What time do you call this?
Orlaith: Jesus you reek.
Corey: Here sit down and get some of this in ye.
( Corey places a stew in front of him. The family dig in.)
Brian: What's wrong with you? You've a face like a slapped arse
Orlaith: Don't you start n'all
Jimmy: She's getting on my wick too da! Did you know she ate my last
bun? (Jimmy winks at Orlaith, Orlaith scowls) (Brian slaps son over
head) Eh how was the game?
Brian: It was shite. We were there ten minutes n it started pishin.
Jimmy: Fuck! So what did you do?
Corey: Language!
Brian: Oh just came home.
Corey: You were drink'n sure. God help me if you've been out with
those Rafferty fellas again. I've told you once and I'll tell ye
again, lie down with dogs and you'll rise with fleas!
Jimmy: Mom that is filthy! Lyin down with dogs?
Orlaith: Yeah that's crass.
Jimmy: Not nice, s'bout sex that.

3

Orlaith: Not nice at all.
Corey: No it is not! It's about getting in with the wrong crowd…
Something you'd do well to listen to son!
Brian: You're beginning to sound like crazy Carmel next door. Jesus.
Corey: Will you fuck off! Anyway she's done good to this family.
Brian: Good? She's round here as fast as her broomstick'll go when she
gets the slightest whiff of grief. And the grief she gives us…
( The family continue to eat. There is a long pause in the
conversation.)
Orlaith: Right, I'm off.
Corey: You've barely touched the sides! Isn't it well fer ye?
Orlaith: Things to do, people to see.
Jimmy: Boys to snog more like.
Orlaith: You really are a wee gobshite. At least there are people
wanting to snog me.
(Sinead enters)
Sinead: Hi Mrs Cooney, Mr Cooney, Orlaith...Jimmy (she sends him a
wink, he blushes)
Corey: Hello there girls! Could ye not have yer few drinks here?
Orlaith: (Embarrassed) No mammie, we’ll be late to the dance.
Brian: Well keep your wits about ye. I'll walk ye out.
Corey: And please for the love o'god, don't be late comin’ back.
Orlaith, Sinead: We won’t!
(Brian and the girls exit)
Corey: Ye know what? When all is said and done, you're a good bunch.

4

( Corey clears plates away. Jimmy goes to leave.)
Corey: And where do you think you’re going?
Jimmy: Upstairs
Corey: You are not. You’re giving me a hand with the dishes
Jimmy: Ma!
Corey: Ah c’mon it’ll hardly kill ye. Plus I never get to see yuz
anymore. You’re always off with your friends doing God knows what.
Whilst your wee ma is left alone all day with no one to talk to...
Jimmy: Ahh alright.
(Jimmy comes behind and gives her a hug)
Corey: James Cooney what do you think you’re doing?
Jimmy: I’m thirsty! I was only going to have a wee sip and then give
you the rest. (Jimmy pours the guinness into a glass. )
Corey: Really now?
Jimmy: Ah c’mon ma!
Corey: You might be able to try that on with your da! (slaps hand) But
not with me son. I can see right through you. I’m your mother
remember? Don’t you forget it. (They stare at each other, Jimmy pulls
a sweet face) Ah go on have it!
Jimmy: Plus I need to get some practice for when they start letting me
behind the bar. I don’t want to be a glass collector me whole life.
Corey: Sure Jimmy, are ye gonna be working late?
Jimmy: Ah, I donno I’ll be working for as long as the people want to
drink.
Corey: Well, if I know a Belfast man, and a Belfast man I do. You’ll
be working all the hours that God sends.
Jimmy: Jays, I won’t be that late
Corey: You know a mother hen can’t sleep until all her wee chicks her
tucked up safe and sound
5

Jimmy: Would you say I’m getting a bit feathery, ma?
Corey: You know what I mean. But Jimmy, be careful. I get a funny
feeling from all those fellas. They’re not right.
Jimmy: I know, ma. I’m not a child anymore.
Corey: That’s what scares me
Jimmy: Good night (Kisses her on the cheek)

GUITAR, FIDDLE, FLUTE AND SOLO FEMALE VOCALIST PLAY A VERSE OF
SALLY GARDENS

Scene 2 – (Corey, Orlaith)
( Corey lights a candle and sits down with knitting)
Orlaith: Christ you nearly gave me a scare. What are you doin’ up so
late?
Corey: Knittin’
Orlaith: (Orlaith mistakes this for ‘Nothin’) Then why are you up so
late?
Corey: (Looks at her blankly) I’m knittin’ (holds up some yarn)
Orlaith: Oh. What for? Its 10 past midnight
Corey: Well. Just after you’d left, I had a wee word with Jimmy like,
before he went to bed. And then I just had a terrible feeling.
Orlaith: What mam?
Corey: You know that something wasn’t right?
Orlaith: Go on mammy... (Orlaith sits down next to her and hands her a
cigarette)
Corey: Then I realised I hadn’t knitted him a sweater this year. Well
God I just feel awful.
Orlaith:

Oh bless you ma. I’m sure he won’t notice.

Corey: I know! But he’ll be getting cold when he comes home from his
bar shifts now, and I don’t want him getting that pneumonia.
Orlaith: I think that’s the least of your worries ma
6

Corey: And what’s that supposed to mean?
Orlaith: He’s a 17 year old boy in Belfast mammy.
Corey: I hope you’re not hinting what I think you’re hinting
Orlaith: Look ma, I just, you know, sometimes I worry about him too.
And I’ve heard there are a few RA men like, that hang out down at
Malones
Corey: You don’t think wee Jimmy’d fall for that stuff now would ye?
Orlaith: What else has he got to fall for...Shall I ask the cards?
(Orlaith pulls out a pack of tarot cards from her pocket-her latest
quirk-and lays them on the sofa)
Corey: Will you stop with those cards. What have i told you? You don’t
interfere with what you don’t know. Now you put those thoughts to bed,
and take yourself off there too would ye?
Orlaith: Good night mammy
Corey: Good night dear
(Corey is left on stage for a moment pondering Orlaith’s words)

ALL BAND PLAY AN UPBEAT TUNE SIMILAR TO THAT OF THE OPENING

Scene 3 – (Corey, Carmel)
Carmel sticks her noggin through the window
Carmel: Hellooo.. Hello? Hi!
Corey: Oh Carmel, hello! Em...do ye wanna come in?
Carmel: No. Listen... did ye hear about Ailish?
Corey: No, I haven’t been outside today, it’s Jimmy’s birthday so I’m
making a wee cake. What happened?
Carmel: Right. Well it was her son’s birthday. You know the one?
Corey: Ehhh
Carmel: The one with all those teeth?
Corey: Oh aye I do

7

Carmel: Anyway. It was his eighteenth. Had a party.
Corey: Right
Carmel: He'd been drinking, sure. And you'll never guess what he did.
Corey: What?
Carmel: Corey he picked up Ailish’s Virgin Mary and drank the holy
water.
Corey: He didn’t!
Carmel: He did so! I’ve seen the boy about and I’m telling you he
could drink a gallon of the stuff and he still wouldn’t be cleansed!
Corey: Ach we both know he wouldn’t be doing it for spiritual
purification Carmel!
Carmel: Well, Ailish handed him a rosary and kicked him out.
Corey: Good on her!
Carmel: Right so! Anyway, I’ll be making tracks.
Corey: Are you sure you don’t want a cup of tea?..
Carmel: (Walking off) No ta! Oh. Wish Jimmy a happy birthday from me
won’t ye? May he live to be 100 years, with an extra year to repent!
Exit Carmel

Scene 4 – Birthday cake (Orlaith, Corey, Brian, Jimmy)
Lights up on Corey. She is in the kitchen fashioning candles onto a
small cake. She is trying to fit all 17 on but keeps losing count and
some of them are slipping off. There is a spot of icing on her nose.
She is humming ‘Corey’s Coming’.
Orlaith enters SR, as though she has just come down the stairs. She is
wearing a conservative dress, matching ribbon in her hair and a
disgruntled frown. Trout like, if you will.
Corey turns around and notices her.
Corey: Oh Jesus (beat) you look lovely! Come here, come into the light
so I can get a good look at yuz. (Orlaith unwittingly complies with
her Mother’s orders) God you look beautiful! It’s amazing what a new
frock and a piece of ribbon can do.

8

Orlaith: Well I don’t feel beautiful. I feel like a feckin’ eejit!
Corey: Orlaith Corey Cooney, would you stop with that language! You
won’t look beautiful if you sound so filthy.
Orlaith: Give it a rest ma! And don’t use my middle name. You only
ever use it when I’m in trouble, and I hate the sound of it.
Corey: Now, you stop right there. I gave you that name to honour your
relatives. It’s my name, it was your grandmother’s name, it was your
great grandmother’s name, and sure you’ve a few cousins in Roscommon
with it. I was just humming the song before you came in.
Orlaith: Oh don’t start.
Corey: You used to love it when I sang it to yuz! (beat) It’s a sad
song really. (Corey wistfully looks into the distance as she loses
herself in the tale) Imagine dreaming all your life of this woman
Corey coming to save yuz and take care of yuz then when she finally
does it’s too late, you’re dead. (beat) There is an uplifting element
though, isn’t there? That the old man wasn’t lying, she was real and
as they lowered that coffin in sure she was there! Do you know,
whenever your da’s not showing me enough love I like to sing it to
myself. Makes me feel (beat) important.
(She sings the chorus once through, smiling as she does and gets up to
tend to the cake once more.)
( Orlaith starts to giggle. Corey snaps out of her dream like state.)
Corey: And what’s got you now?
Orlaith: (Trying to control the laughter) Have you seen the state of
your face?
Corey: What? What’s happened? She frantically touches her face and
scrambles for a mirror. She notices the icing. Jesus! How long’s that
been there?
Orlaith: (Still laughing) I just noticed it!
Corey: Oh Christ! (She finds a kitchen towel and hastily removes it.)
Sure Carmel was round a second ago. Jays, it’ll be soon round the
village that I’m losing my head.
( There is a moment where Corey’s worry softens into laughter. Corey and
Orlaith share a moment of giggles imagining Carmel telling the
neighbours. Corey looks at her watch)
Corey: Is that the time? Your brother’ll be back any minute! Giz us a
hand love and get the tins of Guinness out the fridge?
Orlaith: Ma, he’s only 17!

9


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