The Townlands of Brazil contrasts the life and dreams of a young Irish girl forced to leave her home in what is still the Ballymun countryside close Dublin in 1963 (on the eve of high rise towers being built in those fields), with a contemporary life and dreams of a young Polish girl who has come to that same place in search of money to support her daughter back in Poland, as those ill-fated Ballymun towers are being now demolished.

In Act One Eileen, a nineteen-year-old Irish girl is the last of her family to still live at home with her mother and far older father. All her siblings have emigrated. Her works picking fruit for a family called O’Rourke in a nearby district called Brazil. She falls in love with a young man from there, Michael, who has emigrated to England for work, but is home to see his mother. She agrees to follow him to England, but is afraid to write to him at first because she finds that she is pregnant. When she does write she finds that he has been working on a building site. When her parents discovery her pregnancy they feel they have no choice but to commit her to the care of the nuns as so that the shame of her pregnancy will not be known, but she decides to run away and start a new life in the English city where her lover died. During the Irish Civil War (1922-23) which followed the War of Independence against Britain (1919-1922) Irish people were divided over the settlement with Britain and Michael’s uncle had been killed in a field by men led by Eileen’s uncle who later vanished to America. Although Eileen had never been told this story, it has made her mother very nervous of Michael because of the open wound that still exists because of this murder.

In Act two Monika, an unmarried Polish mother shares a rented bedroom in Ballymun with her friend Anna, from Moldavia. They pick mushrooms on the farm where Eileen once worked. Monika has come to Ireland for work because her lover Michael died there in a crash while working on building sites. Michael’s parents in Poland now raise her child on the money that she sends home, but she feels torn in two between the need to financially support her child and her emotional need to be with her child. Two men working on tearing down a nearby tower block, Oscar, a Turk, and Matthew, an Englishman, are attracted to Monika for different reasons. Monika is still is mourning, but Oscar persuades her to go out with him because he worked with Michael and can tell her about her lover’s final days and his wish to start

a new life with her in Ireland. Her friend Anna, who feels very insecure in Ireland on a work permit is taunted by local children and impulsively steals shampoo, obsessed with the idea that her hair stinks of mushrooms. When arrested she is terrified of losing her job and her work permit. Monika and Oscar rescue her from the police station. During this night an anonymous caller tells police that she has abandoned her baby in the tower block due to be demolished. Oscar joins in the night-time search for this child, but is killed when he falls through an open lift-shaft. At dawn Matthew brings Monika to the tower block where Oscar died and, as they discuss their lives, it transpires that Matthew is the child born to Eileen in the first act play. His story completes the first act and his yearning for the mother that he never knew (after Eileen was forced to give up her child in England) matches Monika’s yearning for the child growing up without her in Poland. With the same hopes that Eileen had when trying to start a new life in England, Monika decides to bring her child to Ireland and to start a new life in a new land that hopefully one day will feel like home.



PUB DETAILS: The Townlands of Brazil was first produced by Axis at the Axis Art Centre, Ballymun, Dublin, on Nov 22nd, 2006

The Townlands of Brazil is due to be published by New Island as part of The Ballymun Trilogy in late 2009. However requests from professional or amateur companies for a reading copy of the script may be made to this website. Applications for any performance, whether by amateur or professional companies, must be made before rehearsals begin. Absolutely no performance may be given unless a license has been obtained.


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