DofR Poster

The Daughters of Róisín

Written and Performed by Aoibh Johnson

Directed by Cahal Clarke  

Wee Yarn Productions had the pleasure of performing at the Adelaide Fringe this year with our own original performance The Daughters of Róisín. 

This play was developed through research about church and state-sanctioned abuse against women in Ireland over the last 100 years. The play is an experimental piece, that allows the audience an insight into the uncomfortable experience of a young, pregnant woman forsaken by her home and her country. 

We had the pleasure of performing at three lovely and very different venues in South Australia (BAKEHOUSE THEATRE, HATS INC AUBURN,

THE MILL) and got some lovely reviews which you can view below!


''Wearing a long white night gown, a young woman stands in the middle of the room. Her natural platinum locks streaming down her shoulders, onto her chest. Her dark, wide eyes stare at us as we sit in front of her. Can she see us or is she looking through us? Around her, small piles of crumpled white cloths are scattered on the floor. Amongst them, a metal bucket, a broom and a wooden chair. 

She breaks the silence with the first verses of Dubliner Luke Kelly’s poem For what died the sons of Róisín. She acknowledges us and addresses us directly as we become part of the narrative. The atmosphere is eerie. Are we really in the room or have we become her phantasms? The ghosts from the past of all the people she’s no longer allowed to meet in person. 

Fragments of her personal story work their way into her scrambled reflections. She talks about them in third person, but we know she’s referring to herself. She tells of a young girl, who’s contracted a mysterious illness. An illness from which she should have known better how to protect herself. An illness which has shame and regret as side effects. A growing disease that deforms the body and carries a sense of despair. We can feel it in the air, as she roams aimlessly and relentlessly within the four walls. 

At times she’s frantic, at times resignation allows her some peace. Yet, we witness her sanity declining rapidly, as she goes over and over again the many evil things that have been said about her. The scornful accusations of those who argue her full responsibility for becoming ill. Melancholic melodies from Irish traditional songs offer her – and us – some needed respite, but this is just temporary.

Written and performed by Aoibh Johnson, The Daughters of Róisín is a heart-wrenching metaphorical drama. It’s a silent accusation at Irish society, with its Catholic backbone, for neglecting to look after its women, to pick them up when they’ve fallen. Watching it just once might not be enough to appreciate in full the complexity of its introspective journey." Marianna Meloni (Everything Theatre)

"The Daughters of Róisín opens with poetic questioning and closes likewise.

Through this dramatic device, thoughtful theatre goers are eased into and out of quiet hour of focussed, earnest theatre in which actor Aoibh Johnson takes us on a reflective journey through the stories of church and state-sanctioned abuse against women in Ireland over the last 100 years.

While films like The Sisters Of No Mercy and Philomena have given us deep insights into the harrowing past of social and religious prejudice against unmarried mothers in Ireland through their conventional narrative structures, The Daughters of Róisín uses poetry, monologue, vignettes, and song, to create a reflection on the emotional and psychological toll taken by these past practices through the life of one woman.

What makes this production relevant to audiences outside Ireland, is that it touches on two fundamental aspects of life. Firstly, injustice is injustice and it comes in many forms but is most gruesome and harrowing when it is entrenched within the state. Secondly, this tale shows how complex human relations can be and how our comprehension of people’s plights are all viewed through different lenses. While black and white exists, most of life sits within a spectrum of grey.

Dressed in simple, white night gown, amid a black set strewn with various white cloths, Aoibh Johnson breathes life into these props as she recreates the experience of having a wanted and unwanted “sickness” inside her; a sickness with a beating heart that will one day be taken away from her. She unfolds the narrative in a way that draws you close, conjuring a poignant intimacy throughout the performance.

This experimental theatre is performed with aplomb by Aoibh Johnson and we can only hope she expands the repertoire of Wee Yarn productions to intrigue us all with more stories in the future.

See this, if you enjoy quiet theatre where an actor can ply her craft with great care and give all of herself to each moment with great intimacy and vulnerability" - Steve Davis (The Adelaide Show) 

'This play is everything great theatre should be: thought-provoking, emotive, challenging. Some of the best writing I have seen nationally this year'  Michael Jackson (Belfast Media Group) 


'An amazing and authentic performer', Patricia Byrne (Sole Purpose Productions)

'Aoibh's extremely strong performance offers fearless engagement with the audience, with passionate delivery' Dr Tanya Dean (Conservatory of Music and Drama, Technological University Dublin)