Featuring Lelia Doolan and Margaretta D’Arcy
As a result of the pandemic, the relationship that intersects age, gender and public space has never been so fraught. The need to see, hear and prioritise older people has been rendered explicitly visible. These women have been blazing trails for 50 years. They were moving mountains long before hashtags. They are the ‘difficult’ women, the brass necks, the sharp, the fearless: the mad, the bad and the dangerous.
Created by Emma O' Grady and produced by Up Up Up, with Copper Alley, in association with Dublin Fringe Festival and Age & Opportunity’s Bealtaine Festival, with support from Galway County Council and the Irish Women Lawyers Association along with the Community Knowledge Initiative, Institute for Lifecourse and Society and The Feminist Storytelling Network (NUI Galway) and 168 donors on GoFundMe
MBD was originally recorded in Aug/Sept 2020 and screened for free online as part of Dublin Fringe Festival and Age & Opportunity's Bealtaine Festival AT HOME.
Lelia Doolan was born in 1934. She is a film and theatre director, producer, journalist and activist. Her contribution to the artistic and cultural life of Ireland is nothing short of ground-breaking. In the 1960s, Archbishop John Charles McQuaid once referred to Lelia Doolan as ‘mad, bad and dangerous’. Lelia began working at RTÉ in the 1960s.
By age 27, she was directing The Riordans, and soon after founded 7 Days, the precursor to Prime Time. She co-authored a book Down and Be Counted following her resignation from RTE over their commercial policies. In 1971 she became the first female artistic director of the Abbey Theatre since Lady Gregory.
She has a PhD in Anthropology and also has qualifications in the Irish language, in science, and in Homeopathy. She established Ireland’s first course in Media Communications at Rathmines College (now DIT). Michael D Higgins appointed her chairperson of the Irish Film Board when it re-constituted in 1993.
She co-founded the Galway Film Fleadh and the Cinemobile. She was part of the Burren Acton Group against the building of an interpretive centre in Mullaghmore ending up in the High Court successfully preventing the build and resulting in fundamental change to Irish planning legislation. S
he has joined in the protests against the use of Shannon airport by US military, the Corrib Gas Pipe Line and lent her support to the equal marriage campaign and Repeal the 8th. M
ost recently, she was involved in the re-opening of Yeats’s Tower Thoor Ballylee and spearheaded the building of Galway’s art-house cinema the Picture Palace. 2011 saw the premiere of her critically-acclaimed and award-winning documentary about Bernadette McAliskey called Bernadette: Notes on a Political Journey.
Margaretta D’Arcy was born in 1934. She is an experimental theatre practitioner, and her dedication to using theatre for radical change complemented by her film-making, pirate radio production and activism.
Margaretta and her husband playwright John Arden embarked on a productive collaboration from the 60s onwards using dramas to extend the boundaries of national identity and human freedom. They co-authored culturally, socially and politically radical shows like the six-part Non-stop Connolly Show in 1977 and the BBC radio series Whose is the Kingdom?
They were ousted from the British theatre in 1972 when they were the first to strike at London’s Aldwych Theatre over the Royal Shakespeare Company’s production of The Island of the Mighty. Their play The Ballygombeen Bequest, based on the eviction of an elderly widow in Oughterard, Co Galway, was at the centre of a libel action heard in London.
In 1961, Margaretta joined the anti-nuclear Committee of 100, led by Bertrand Russell. She supported the women in Armagh Jail and spent 3 months in prison there during the Dirty Protest. She once said the best thing that ever happened to her was being put into Armagh jail because it changed her whole perspective - she understood the oppression of women.
Margaretta’s book about Armagh - Tell Them Everything: A Sojourn in the Prison of Her Majesty…– was an alternative best-seller. She was at Greenham Common Women’s Peace camp off and on for 19 years and with bolt cutters and legal challenges outwitted the British and US military between 1982 – 2000.
In 1982 she became an invited founder member of Women in Media & Entertainment (WIME), which has consultant status at the UN. In the early-1990s she started up annual seasons of Radio Pirate-Woman. She has served time in 5 jails, twice for participating in demonstrations against the use of the Shannon airport as a stopover for US military flights. Her latest venture has involved linking up with the Raging Grannies movement in Canada and the US..