Hidden Cultures, Public Platform

Big thanks to Rosaleen Mcdonagh and the cast of Mainstream at The Project Theatre, Dublin tonight, a very relevant socio-political play.
Many layers, many themes, many betrayals, including the betrayal of one’s own body. This play needs to be taken on tour to educate this nation about our collective cruelties, our indifference, our racism and the crimes we perpetrate on each other.
This is a brave courageous work by a fantastic playwright, who has travelled the long road of prejudice. She operates in her own uniqueness and compliments the great work of Christy Brown, Paddy Doyle, the Pecker Dunne and of course Sean O Casey.
While the work is about class, prejudice,Travellers, mainstream society written by a female playwright, it’s literary scope is universal and all-embracing. While disability is also a theme that runs through this work it is extremely intelligently portrayed and given expression of great integrity and is not reliant on any gimmicks or tricks. These are proud people, strongly portrayed by some of the finest acting I’ve seen anywhere. (Donal Toolan, John Connors, Grainne Hallahan and Neili Conroy – cast)
These characters are human beings like ourselves different and equal and their pain is like our pain. It’s a deeply humanising piece and sparks off the idea in us all that we all have a bit of a flaw. We all have our abilities and disabilities. We are all prejudice to one another.

Cast of Mainstream – Donal Toolan, Grainne Hallahan, John Connors, Neili Conroy – Written by Rosaleen McDonagh

But Rosaleen McDonagh is a great playwright who won’t remain silent and fights that prejudice. Won’t be stereotyped. Won’t be pigeon-holed or marginalised, no matter what. She takes on feminism, male prejudice, class divide, racism, disability, traveller culture, child abuse, body betrayal and gay identity in one great lash of the pen. Excellent.
The centre of the work is about exclusion, prejudice and marginalisation but she manages to bring us as an audience and a public right into her fold.
I felt great coming out of this play even though its themes were dark. This playwright has kicked the door open into the light, and it’s very welcome. Anybody who has any prejudice or any doubts about the Travelling community or any ‘othered’ member of society should get to see this work.
Arts Council, Dublin City Council and all ye people out there with the public purse make sure this play gets out on a National tour – Please – for all our sakes.
This is a work of national importance.  
Outstanding honesty.

Happy Birthday Pecker Dunne

1st April 1933-19th December 2012

Pecker Dunne broke the mold.  He was one of the great liberators of the Travelling community and from the Travelling community. He was a fluent conversationalist and his wit and intelligence and expression could transform and transcend any company.

He was always a man who would stand up to prejudice and racism not just on behalf of his own community and himself but on behalf of others. He knew hardship and empathized with the hardships of many others outside of his own kind, own clan and own community.

If the word ‘hero’ applies to anything, well then it applies to Pecker Dunne and his epic life journey.  The testament to the man and his artistry, his humanity and his commitment to his community and family are a well-known legend and live on today through his children and his wife Madeline and indeed the very essence of the Pecker himself.

For those that knew him and experienced him, he is part of our living culture.  That essence will never die.  Like the great Irish legends that were written down in Clonmacnoise, the Pecker Dunne engrained his experiences and his artistry and his music into our society, into our everyday.  And we are the richer for it.


Peckers tune,  Tinkers Lullaby, written for his young son, is an anthem about the Travelling community.  It is a deep lament in the great tradition of lamenting and indeed keening.  It is grief stricken but its melody and lyrics are full of hope and love and dignity.  Learn it and sing it.  From the GAA grounds of Limerick to the Rugby grounds of old Landsdowne road, to the race tracks of Galway, the streets of Dublin and Donegal, and the corners of Ballybunion through fields and encampments, roadsides and halting sites and the grand music halls and concerts venues of America – the Pecker Dunne can still be heard if you care to listen.


Kennedy and Pecker Dunne 1981 one

Kennedy Wedding, Glandore

The above photos are from the wedding at Glandore, Co Cork (Cuan d’Ór ) in the early 1970tys of a young American couple Miss Shauna Sump Hegarty and Mr Mark Kennedy both from Oregan USA. Pecker Dunne played music at their wedding as he did at many a wedding.


Pecker Dunne casket

The simple coffin of Pecker Dunne. A burial full of humility and serenity.


Tinker’s Lullaby 

Go to sleep my little tinker
Let all your troubles pass you by
For you have no place to camp now
Ah that’s a tinkers lullaby.
Ever since you were a baby
Cradled in your mothers shawl
Society said they did not want you
And now you have no home at all

When your mother died and left you
You had to fend all alone
All in this land of saints and scholars
And still you have not got a home.

Although your clothes are torn and ragged
And your hair is silvery grey
Some day you’ll die and go to heaven
And you will find a camp ground there.

Go to sleep my little tinker
Let all your troubles pass you by
For you have no place to camp now
Ah that’s a tinkers lullaby.


Everybody in Ireland and indeed the world should get to know the Pecker. Listen and learn from his music and become wise from his shared experiences.

Breithlá Shona Dhuit Pecker agus go raibh míle maith agat.