The Web of Connemara

This is the start of our second go at what is commonly referred to as Martin McDonagh’s “Leenane trilogy” of  (McDonagh started as a playwright but is now best-known as the Oscar-winning writer-director of films like Banshees of Inisherin and In Bruges). We originally staged Beauty Queen 21 years ago, and more recently offered A Skull in Connemara (2017) and The Lonesome West (2013). We did the last two out of order, but unless you were following along super-carefully you wouldn’t have known.

Now that we’re back at the beginning and so many of you saw the latter two installments, we wanted to offer a little guide to how the references to other characters in Beauty Queen factor.

Please let us reinforce that none of these connections are critical to the plots, understanding, or enjoyment of these plays, it’s just a fun bit of expanded universe world-building. 

Father Welsh (Walsh? Welsh): is talked about in all three plays but only appears in The Lonesome West, the finale of the trilogy. Describes Leenane as “the murder capital of fecking Europe.” In Beauty Queen Ray talks about possibly buying a car off of him, Mag expresses her dislike of him, and he is the priest Pato Dooley is referring to in the letter at the top of the second act. Played by Brian Shea in 2013.

Mairtin Hanlon: Ray’s best friend and partner-in-mischief. Ray tells us Mairtin was with him when his swing-ball went missing near the Folan’s chickens, Ray also provides an account of Father Welsh-Walsh-Welsh punching Mairtin in the head — and for no reason. Mairtin appears in A Skull in Connemara, where he similarly talks about his small-town exploits with Ray. Played by Brandon Mauro in 2017.

Coleman and Valene Connor: brothers and acquaintances of Pato and Maureen’s (the population of Leenane is only around 200, everyone knows everyone else’s business). Pato tells us Coleman ate a whole pack of Kimberleys once and was sick for a week, and confirms to Maureen that Coleman cut the ears off Valene’s dog and keeps them in a bag in his room. Coleman and Valene appear in The Lonesome West, where they reference Pato’s wedding, and were played in 2013 by David M. Jenkins and Madilyn Lunsford.

Mick Dowd: works for the local cemetery once a year to make room for fresh burials by smashing up the skeletons of the eldest “residents,” he is also suspected of murdering his wife 7 years prior in A Skull in Connemara. Pato references Mick’s car crash in the letter at the top of act 2. Played by Brian Shea in 2017.

Girleen: the poitin (Irish moonshine) slinging young lady we meet in The Lonesome West whose heart (unrequitedly) belongs to Father Welsh-Walsh-Welsh. Pato also references her in the letter at the top of act 2. Played by Caitlin Eason in 2013.

Maryjohnny Rafferty: like Mag, she is one of Leenane’s eldest residents. She appears in A Skull in Connemara as a sort of foil to Mick Dowd, even as she doubts his innocence. Maureen mentions Maryjohnny as the only non-family member to show up to a Folan family funeral. Played by Diana Rogers in 2017 (Rogers also originally played Beauty Queen‘s Mag in 2003).

Tom Hanlon: Mairtin Hanlon’s chain-smoking, asthmatic older brother and the village garde (police officer). Watches way too many old ’70s crime shows. In A Skull in Connemara, he’s still investigating the death of Mick Dowd’s wife some 7 years later. In The Lonesome West he is mentioned several times as the village enforcer. In Beauty Queen, Ray tries to tell us that he is the victim of police violence, but Maureen confronts Ray that Tom told her he kicked a door in only his socks. Played by David M. Jenkins in 2017 (Jenkins plays Pato Dooley in the current production, and played Ray in 2003).

The Beauty Queen of Leenane is on stage through April 7 at the Straz Center for the Performing Arts. Book tickets here, they are going fast!

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