Leonard and McGahern – The Barracks

The Barracks, Hugh Leonard’s adaptation of the 1963 novel by John McGahern, premiered in 1969 at the Dublin Theatre Festival. This appears to be the only stage adaptation of a McGahern novel.

The play concerns Elizabeth Reegan (Aideen O’Kelly) who return to her native village in Ireland, after years of freedom–and loneliness, and marries Garda Sergeant Reegan (Martin Dempsey), a widower with children.  “The children are not her own; her husband is straining to break free from the servile security of the police force; and her own life, threatened by illness, seems to be losing the last vestiges of its purpose”. (Irish Playography)

The play was staged at the Gate Theatre by Gemini productions and directed by Tomas Mac Anna.

During the 1960s Leonard wrote a play a year for the Dublin Theatre Festival, alternating original works with adaptations. His adaptations were of radical and exciting works by James Joyce, Flann O’Brien and, here, John McGahern whose second published novel The Dark had been banned in Ireland in 1965.



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