The Corner Shop
By Donal Horgan

Copyright 2004

The Corner Shop charts economic change in a small Irish town in the 1980s. As such, it is the epic tale of one man's efforts at modernising his corner shop into a fully-fledged supermarket.

From the sanctuary of his corner shop, Boss Murphy views his fellow townspeople with a mixture of distrust and contempt. Boss sees himself as the essence of the modern man and fired by the latest management manual from America, embarks on the Herculean task of transforming his humble corner shop into a fully-fledged supermarket.

In doing so, Boss likes to think that he has the backing of his wife Mam and J.J., his faithful sidekick and conduit for town news and gossip. There is also his reluctant counterhand, Noelie, who seems to feel more at home in the local bookies than in the increasingly high-powered world of commerce of Boss' corner shop. Completing the scene is Mrs. Connor, the town wag whose appetite for gossip is matched only by her insatiable appetite for fat bacon.

Economic change is also evident in the revamping of the town's old creamery building and its official reopening as a Heritage Centre. Under the energetic if somewhat suspect management of Frank Cunningham, "The Experience" looks set to open a new chapter in the town's history especially since it has taken on local corner boy and neer do well The Gouger Casey as its guide.

All appears to be going well for Boss until rumours spread that a supermarket group is about to buy a derelict building across the street. Other problems unfold for Boss and Mam when it transpires that their only daughter, Mary Theresa, far from taking the "call to training" to become a teacher is harbouring secret ambitions of her own.

The official opening of The Experience by Dublin based celebrity personality and emerging poetic talent Bobby Gilmore provides Boss not just with a rare social outing but a chance to do something about the impending arrival of a rival supermarket. This is especially so since the official opening is being attended by Councillor Michael Hackett, local councillor and aspiring political heavyweight.

The events of the story unfold against the backdrop of a sweltering summer in which economic theory meets the machinations of small-town Ireland in a head-on collision.






















Boss Murphy:

Suspicious and distrustful of the townspeople. Isolated from the mainstream of town life. Relies on his sidekick, J.J., for town news and gossip. Dresses in a white shopkeepers coat. Likes to think of himself as modern and progressive.

Somewhat gormless at times. Very conscious of her social standing. Fails to understand a lot of the intrigue.

Mary Theresa:
The precocious if somewhat naive only child of Boss and Mam.

The hard drinking, chain-smoking devotee of the turf who also passes as Boss' counterhand. His lowly station is denoted by his brown shop coat.

Portrays himself as a simple old-timer. Events of the story show him otherwise.

Mrs. Connor:
The town wag barely tolerated by Boss as a customer. Rather uncouth. Continues to dress in heavy overcoat and scarf despite the sweltering summer heat.

Gouger Casey:
Local corner boy and town neer do well. Dresses in leather jacket and comes complete with spiked hair.

Councillor Hackett:
Somewhat superficial. Attempts to be all things to all people. Well dressed and obviously wearing a hair piece.

Frank Cunningham:
The somewhat pompous and arrogant manager of the new heritage centre. Full of new management jargon. Keen to impress Bobby Gilmore with his literary talent.

Bobby Gilmore:
Believes that he is on something of a junket from Dublin in performing the opening. Uses the occasion to promote himself and his questionable poetic talent.

Sister Brid:
The local 'modern' nun. Wears runners and a 'modern' habit. Has a soft spot for the Gouger Casey and believes he is at last turning over a new leaf.


















Act 1. Scene 1: Wednesday Morning

Interior of a small corner shop. Renovations have seen the removal of old counters etc and their replacement by a system of self-service. There is a decidedly modern feel to the interior with clashing bright colours much in evidence. Venetian blinds look out on to the street. It is a bright summer's morning. Boss is sweeping the floor in upbeat mood.

Boss: (sweating from the work of demolition and clearing)
Good riddance to bad rubbish! That's what I say.

J.J. (surveying the scene as he enters)
Well Boss, I wouldn't recognise the place. You've done the devil in changing the shop this time.

Boss: (pausing from the work)
It's like this J.J., either you move with the times or the times move without you.

J.J. You never said a truer word.
(lighting pipe and surveying the scene further)
Let me see, wasn't this where the old counter was?

Boss: Yes, but that's all gone now J.J.. SELF-SERVICE , that's what we're going to have from now on.
(pausing again)
And by the way, it's no longer a corner shop - it's now a SUPERMARKET.

J.J. Self-Service! You mean you're going to let the crowd in this town run amok in your shop. My God man, you'll be in the Poor House in a week!

Boss: Don't you worry. I've studied it well. Do you see this book - STRATEGIC MANAGEMENT by Chuck Freeman. It's all in here. No fellow from this town

will put Boss Murphy in any Poor House, mark my words.

J.J. No truer word Boss.

Boss: (putting brush to one side)
Now J.J., this may be a supermarket but I want to assure you that somethings never change. You've been a valued friend for the last 20 years and I'm glad to say your stool is here just as it always was.

J.J. (sitting on high stool with quiet satisfaction)
Spoken like a true gentleman Boss. You know, I was half afraid with this new self-service thing that you wouldn't have a need for my company anymore.

Boss: Nothing could be further from the truth.

J.J. STRATEGIC MANAGEMENT ......By God you've got to hand it to the yanks. ...take-away-meals. Is it any wonder they're all huge fat. And now self-service if you don't mind!






Boss: (leafing through book)
Wait till you hear this J.J....Chuck's thought for the day:
Brilliant. I tell you the man is a genius. No one ever thought of switching off the oven before, they all just got out of the kitchen.
(looking out venetian blinds)
Oh yes the crowd around here will have to shape up all right. They'll have to get up off their arses and move with the times.

J.J. Well seeing that that's where most of them keep their brains I'd say they'll be slow enough standing up.

Boss: (going to door and shouting)
Noelie! will you come in here please.

J.J. I see the auction for Sullivan's is on at 5 o clock tomorrow.

Boss: (Looking out venetian blinds)
Tis indeed. I know they were related to you J.J., but wasn't it a pity all the same they left that shop go to wreck and ruin. If those sons minded the business they could have a shop as good as mine. But no, 'twas nothing but the bright lights of London for those two buckos.

J.J. That's the young people for you.

Boss: No man, you have to move with the times. No offence J.J., but old Sullivan was fierce backward when all is said and done. And look at it now and every cat in the country pissing in the windows. Was it any wonder the sons upped and left?

J.J. No offence Boss, but who could make a living out of a small little corner shop like that?

Boss: No offence taken J.J., but you have to move with the times. I mean, I could never see those Sullivan boys knuckling down to STRATEGIC MANAGEMENT by Chuck Freeman.
Sure I remember poor old Sullivan and he doing sums on the back of a cigarette packet and anything else he could lay his hands on. The poor old eejit! No offence J.J..

J.J. As you say yourself Boss, you have to move with the times.

Boss: No truer word.
Where's that fellow Noelie gone?
(goes to door and shouts)
Noelie! Will you come in here.
You'd think I was paying that fellow to be idle. I sent him up the yard an hour ago to stack boxes and there's no trace of him since.

I see the opening of the new Heritage Centre is on tomorow. Didn't myself and Mam get an official invitation.
(reads invitation)
MR and MRS BOSS MURPHY ARE CORDIALLY INVITED TO ATTEND THE OFFICIAL OPENING OF The Experience at 3 o clock on Thursday 15th of August.

And why shouldn't we be invited. Didn't I donate the old weighing scales and the rest of the junk I was throwing out from the old shop. Ah yes, sure they didn't know that they were saving me a trip to the dump out the road. They don't know the man they're dealing with. Even after I pull a fast one on them like that what do they do only send me a letter thanking me and inviting me to the official opening. I ask you, how could a business man like me spare the time for that codology - bowing and scraping before an old weighing scales if you don't mind.

J.J. You said it Boss.

Boss: And I'll tell you something else J.J. That old creamery building should have been torn down and turned into a car park for the people coming into town doing their shopping. I tell you, the rate payers of this town won't stand for it.

J.J. You said it Boss.

Boss: Where's that Noelie gone?
(goes to door and shouts)
Noelie! Will you come in here.

(calls in an agitated voice)
Mam, will you come in here and mind the shop. I want to go up the yard to see where that fellow has gone to.
(exits in search of Noelie)

Mam: (enters)
Well J.J., I see you've found your old perch.

J.J. And a lucky man I am too seeing all the changes Boss has made. You'd want to be electric to be kept around here now.

Mam: 'Tis that book. Boss hasn't stopped since he got it - product diversification, market research, customer satisfaction and the devil knows what. It'll drive him mad if he's not careful.

J.J. I see Noelie is on the missing list again. Boss seems to think he's somewhere up the yard.

Mam: A likely chance. I'd say try the bookies and if he's not there he's sure to be in some seibin up the street.

J.J. That sounds more like Noelie alright.
(Mary Theresa enters)
Well if it isn't the brainbox herself. What's this I hear - 7 honours in her Leaving? They'll have to hold her back from the books.

Mary T:Mam, would you ever give me a few pounds - I'm going across the street to James Michael's Hair Salon. He said he'd restyle my hair.

Mam: You know how your father feels about James Michael.
Go on, I suppose you deserve a treat. But don't let your father know.
(Mary Theresa exits)

J.J. So what's the young brain box going to be? Another shopkeeper?

Mam: No indeed. She's waiting for the call to training. They should be out any day soon. And then it's off to Mary I. for herself.

Boss: (enters with Noelie in tow)
You'd never believe where I found him - in Shanahans bookies shop of all places.

Noelie:Well Boss it's like this. I've a certain for the 2.05 in Kempton.

Boss: The only thing that's certain about you Noelie is that you won't ever do a day's work. Now get up there, you're doing the 12 o clock customer announcements.

Noelie:Customer announcements - but sure the shop is empty Boss.

Boss: So you know more than Chuck Freeman, do you? None of your lip boy. The book says it and that's good enough for me.
Now up you go.

Noelie:(sheepishly into microphone)
Customers - have we got bargains for you today.


Boss: (interrupting from behind)
More feeling man, more feeling.

Noelie:(clears throat and looks around nervously)
Customers - have we got bargains for you today.
Best quality jelly 79 p.
Best quality firelighters - 99 p.
Best quality fat bacon £1.49
Best quality beans - 49 p.
Best quality dripping only 99 pence.
Nappies - £2.49. And with every pack of nappies bought this week, get a free baby......
(looks around in puzzlement)

Boss: Move your thumb man!

Noelie: (laboured tone)
....And with every pack of nappies bought this week, get a free baby cream.
Now that's real value.

Boss: That's more like it. I have a rota prepared. Mary Theresa will be doing the 3 o clock announcement and I've pencilled in Mam for the 7 o clock one.
Now Noelie, you've had your 3 minutes of fame. Get a bucket and brush and wash down the front of the shop like a good boy.

Noelie:Yes Boss.

Boss: And Noelie...

Noelie:Yes Boss...

Boss: Don't let me catch you inside Shanahans on my time again or I swear those horses in Kempton won't be able to keep up with you if I lay my hands on you.

Noelie:Yes Boss.
(exits with bucket and brush)

Boss: That man puts so much work into idling he'll break out in a sweat some day.

J.J. Boss, there's one thing I don't understand about the self-service. If the customers will be filling their own baskets and you'll be taking their money. What will Noelie be doing?

Boss: Well J.J., let's put it this way - my loss will be Shanahans gain. Do you get my drift? (hearty laugh)
(holding up book)

STRATEGIC MANAGEMENT, Oh yes, the crowd around here will have to shape up alright.
Tell me, was Mrs Connor in yet?

Mam: Mrs Connor has come in here every day for the last 20 years at 25 past one so I'd say there's a good chance we'll see her at that time again today.

Boss: That woman and her fat bacon. You wouldn't feed it to greyhounds.
Still, as Chuck Freeman says "the customer is always right". Although you wouldn't think it around here most of the time.

Mam: Mary Theresa went out to get her hair cut. She'll need the bit of style for the interview.


Boss: (Looking out through venetian blinds)
Good. Good. As long as she didn't go to that good-for-nothing up the street
- what's he calling himself this week - James Michael?

J.J. :No Boss, I think he's still Michael James.

Boss: (reading sign across street)
Unisex Hair Saloon... easy know what's on that fellow's mind alright.

J.J. Well whatever about yee, I must be heading off for the nosebag.
(pausing just before leaving)
Oh Boss, I don't know if I mentioned it but I seen three men with good overcoats outside Sullivans the other day. They were measuring it from every end.

Boss: (immediately going to venetian blinds and looking out)
Is that so now.

J.J. I just thought I'd tell you Boss with the auction coming up tomorrow and all that.

Boss: (continuing to look out)
...three men with good that so now...

Act 1: Scene 2 Thursday Afternoon - 1 pm

Overhead, a new sign has been erected in the shop reading:
A table and chair have been placed in the centre of the shop. It is a sweltering summer's afternoon. With the upcoming auction, Boss has become uptight constantly peering through the venetian blinds in order to satisfy his curiosity regarding the auction and the three strangers. Oblivious to all talk of the auction, Noelie sits alone in the shop furtively pulling on a cigarette and purusing the racing pages of a newspaper.

Noelie:(on seeing J.J. entering)
God J.J. you frightened the wits out of me. I was sure twas Boss.

J.J. (On seeing the new sign and table and chair.)
What's this? More changes?
(reading sign aloud)
A SQUARE MEAL ON A ROUND PLATE - is it an ating house Boss is going to start next?

Noelie:It's that book. It'll be the cause of driving him mad. That bloody yank with his strat-eejit manners or whatever he calls it. And I wouldn't mind but I'm not feeling at all well today....something I ate....

J.J. How many pints did you have last night Noelie?

Noelie:(doing quick mental calculations on his fingers)
Twelve...or let me see...I owed the Gouger Casey a double round...fourteen...
yes fourteen pints I think it was...those curries are lethal all the same...I don't know how those Indian lads ever manage to do a day's work after them....

J.J. (sitting on stool)
Tell me, did Mary Theresa get the call yet?

Noelie:Not a word. And I wouldn't mind but there was war yesterday when she came back from James Michael. She had some new fangled hairstyle called headlights or highlights. When Boss saw her he nearly had to be tied. You'd cut the atmosphere around here these days.
(sounds of Boss approaching in the background, Noelie struggles to put out cigarette and hide paper)
Here he comes! Here he comes!

Boss: (Looking back as if talking to Mary Theresa)
A beautician is it! So you want to be a beautician now! Over my dead body.
And besides that beauty thing never caught on around here.
And the place has all the signs of it too.
(looking to J.J. and Noelie)
God that one will break my heart. It must be the heat that's affecting her. First she goes and gets her hair cut by that good-for-nothing up the street and now she wants to be a beautician of all things.

J.J. That's the young people for you Boss. Tell me did she get the call yet?

Boss: (defensively)
Any day now, J.J.. Any day.
Was Mrs. Connor in yet Noelie?

Noelie:(looking at watch)
Any minute now Boss. Any minute.

Boss: Noelie, don't be standing there with a pair of hands on you. Would you go out and wash down the front like a good boy.

Noelie:(Getting bucket and brush and exiting)
Yes Boss.

J.J. (Looking at sign and table)
I see you've been reading the book again Boss.

Boss: (proudly looking at sign and table and taking out book)
Yes J.J., it's called product diversification and it's about time this town had a little more of it.
(looking impatiently at watch)
Where's Mrs Connor? She doesn't know it but I need her for one of my exercises in market research.

J.J. (in amazement)
Market research - what'll that Freeman boy think of next?

Boss: (looking out window)
I see the auction is on at 5 today. Any sign of those three fellows with the good overcoats J.J.?

J.J. Well Boss, they're the kind of fellows who don't advertise their presence around town very much, if you know what I mean.
(Mrs. Connor enters with heavy coat, scarf and shopping bags and obviously feeling the heat)

Boss: Ah Mrs Connor, tis yourself and I see you're taking no chances with the weather on a day like this.

Mrs C. Lovely day Boss, J.J.. You wouldn't know there might be a shower later on. Have you got my bacon Boss?

Boss: Indeed I have.
(handing over bacon)
You can't beat the bit of fat bacon, that's what I say?
Now Mrs. Connor - you'll have a cup of tea and a sticky bun.

Mrs C. (looking bewildered)
Tea and a sticky bun in a shop - what's the world coming to?

Boss: I insist Mrs Connor and I won't take a penny for it either. Not this time anyway.
(showing Mrs Connor to her seat)

Mrs C.(under protest)
But I'm just after my sweet.

Boss: Never you mind.
(going to door and calling)
Noelie, will you come in here and take Mrs Connor's order.

Noelie:(running with notebook in hand)
Yes Boss.
Now Mrs Connor, what can I get you?

Mrs C.(Looking bewildered)
I'll have a cup of tea and a sticky bun I suppose.

Boss: Excellent choice Mrs Connor!
Noelie, look lively!
(Noelie runs back and forth setting table, Boss again peers through blinds)

J.J.: (picking up copy of STRATEGIC MANAGEMENT and reading blurb in a laboured tone)
God Boss there must be great things in this book altogether.
Do you hear this - "After a hectic career on the New York Stock Exchange, Chuck Freeman retired at the age of 23."
You know there are fellows around here and they're only getting out of bed at that age. "Chuck Freeman has swopped the hectic life of the New York Stock Exchange for the quieter life of his remote mountain retreat in South America where he farms a herd of goats and practises transendental meditation."
All the same, you have to admire any fellow who can make a living from the goats these days.

Boss: (turning from looking out venetian blinds)
Ah yes, that's strategic management for you.

J.J. - Did you ever notice the way I've all my specials strategically positioned to the back of the shop? You see that way, when the customers come in they lose all reason and end up buying things they don't even want. Chuck Freeman says it's called psychology.

Mam: (enters wearing cardigan and with arms folded)
Boss, will you ever give us a rest from that Chuck fellow. You'll drive us all mad.

Boss: Mam, did you know that Chuck says there are fellows in America working full-time watching rats trying to find their way around the inside of a box?
Mam: (bored)
Did they ever hear of poison over there?

J.J. Imagine that.


Mam: (smiling maliciously in the direction of Mrs Connor)
Lovely day, Mrs Connor. I see you're taking no chances with the weather as usual. Still, the coat is practical if nothing else even though you have been wearing it for the last 7 years.
Noelie, when you get a chance maybe you'd polish the silver in the front room like a good boy.

Noelie:(suddenly startled)
Yes mam, no problem mam.

Mam: (looking poisonously in the direction of Mrs Connor)
Well, I'd better be going. I've an expensive roast in the oven.

Boss: Well Mrs Connor, will there be a big crowd at the auction today?

Mrs C. Not too many Boss. Sure who'd be interested in buying old Sullivan's shop?

Boss: (continuing to peer through blinds)
A good question indeed.
Well would you look at the pair up at the corner - young Keeffe and the Gouger Casey, two layabouts if there ever were layabouts. But sure what would you expect - their fathers held up that same piece of wall for a full five years in the 50's before they went to England. But no, they'd have to do a days work if they stayed in England so what do they do - come back here looking for a council house if you don't mind. Like father, like son.

J.J.: Do you know Boss, I'm sure the Gouger Casey was up in court this week.
(Looking through newspaper)

Noelie:(looking decidedly uncomfortable at the mention of the Gouger Casey)
Boss, I'll go and polish the silver in the front room for mam.

Boss: (engrossed in thoughts of the auction)
Yes do that...

J.J. Here it is - Court Briefs - "Mr. Gerard Casey of no. 14 Kevin Barry Villas was fined £2 for urinating in a public place." I'm sure that's the Gouger.

Boss: I'm sure it is. Who else would urinate in the street like a dog but the Gouger Casey. This town would be better off without his likes. A corner boy like his father before him.

J.J. And they say that Sister Brid from the convent has got the Gouger Casey a job in the new Heritage Centre.

Boss: Do you hear that Mrs Connor. I tell you the rate payers of this town won't stand for it. It's bad enough the Council throwing good money after bad doing up the old creamery but then they want the ratepayers of this town to payroll the likes of the Gouger Casey. How long did he last working with the council ? A week. No, the likes of the Gouger Casey should be packed off to America. I can tell you the ratepayers of America wouldn't pay him to spend his days leaning on a shovel searching for the meaning of life by looking into a pothole in downtown Manhattan.

J.J. You said it Boss.

Boss: You see J.J. Sister Brid is one of those new fangled nuns who believes that no one will go to hell. Herself and her soft spot for the Gouger Casey. She'll have a rude awakening when she sees the Gouger Casey loitering with intent outside the gates of heaven. If she read the Court Briefs like the rest of the people of this town she might have a better understanding of her precious Gerard Casey. He's as quare an article as this town ever produced and it has produced its share down the years.

J.J. No truer word word Boss.

Mrs C.God Boss, that cup of tea was lovely. Now I'd better be off. And you mean you're not going to charge me for the tea and the sticky bun?

Boss: I wouldn't hear of it Mrs Connor. Not this time anyway.

Mrs C.(moving to exit)
What's the world coming to at all.
Oh by the way Boss, did Mary Theresa get the call?


Boss: Any day now Mrs Connor, any day.

Mrs C Well that's strange because I heard the young Keeffe girl up the street got the call this morning.

Boss: (trying to hide disappointment)
Is that so now. Well I'm delighted for her. And isn't a pity now her brother couldn't find something better to do than warm his arse all day long off the same piece of wall as the Gouger Casey.
(Mrs Connor exits)

J.J. (after a pause)
Boss I know I'm just a simple man but how in God's name can Chuck Freeman justify feeding Mrs Connor tea and sticky buns? I mean that would put any man in the Poor House.

Boss: (increasingly distracted and on edge)
Well it's like this J.J. - all you have to do is give the woman the taste for sticky buns and believe you me she won't be able to pass the door without coming in. Mark my words, once she gets into the habit of it we won't be able to draw tea and buns to her half fast enough.

J.J. Well fancy that. And to think that the lad who thought up that is minding goats in the back of beyonds.....

Noelie:(sudden interruption)
Boss! Boss! It's 5 to 2. I just thought I'd tell you it's Mary Theresa's turn to do the customer announcement.

Boss: (suddenly losing composure)
Forget that nonsense man!

Noelie:But it says it in the book Boss.

Boss: Here we are and some fellows about to buy Sullivan's Shop and all you can talk about is some shaggin book. Do you realise you could well be out of a job this time next week. And what would you do then?
(regaining composure)
Do you know what you'll do Noelie. I just happened to make out a few placards last night.
(produces two placards reading:
Here now. I want you to take these and stand outside Sullivan's shop. Do you understand now Noelie.

Noelie:(moving to exit)
Yes Boss. You want me just to stand outside Sullivan's like. Just to stand there.

Boss: With the placards. Make sure they all see the placards as they're going into the auction.
(looks out venetian blinds and follows Noelie's progress across the street)
That'll show those buckos.
(turning to J.J)
You know, Noelie might have his faults but when the chips are down he's one man you can rely on.

J.J. You can say that again.

Boss: I couldn't have it on my conscience - throwing that poor unfortunate out of a job and onto the street. How could anyone do that to our Noelie?

J.J. You said it Boss.

(Councillor Michael Hackett enters in a flurry shaking hands with all)
Cll. H:Boss. J.J.
I was in town for the opening of the Heritage Centre and with everybody talking about the improvements to your shop I said I had to come and see it for myself. Lord preserve us - wasn't this where the old counter was and wasn't the old weighing scales over there? I wouldn't know the place Boss.

(reading sign)
And what's this - a square meal on a round plate. Mind you round this town tis more likely to be a quare meal on a quare plate.
(Forced laughing at his own joke)

Boss: (with considerable pride)
Well now Councillor Hackett, may I say on behalf of my staff and myself how happy I am to welcome you to my new self-service shop where as Chuck Freeman's book says the customer is always right.

Cll. H.I don't know about that Boss. The crowd around this town aren't the usual crowd that you get in books.
(Forced laughing at his own joke)

Boss: Now that you mention it Councillor Hackett, I want to raise an issue of considerable interest to our town. Old Sullivan's shop is due to go under the auctioneer's hammer at 5 o clock today.

J.J. (standing and moving to exit)
Well now, I'll leave yee two important men to yer important discussions. I'll be heading along now...

Cll. H: (shaking hands with J.J.)
You won't forget me for the election.

J.J. Of course not Councillor Hackett, sure aren't you the only man with the interests of this town at heart.

: Now Councillor Hackett, as I mentioned, old Sullivan's shop is due for auction today.

(butting in in anticipation)
Cll. H.And I want to say how much I welcome this investment in the infrastructure of our town. It's about time something was done with that derelict eyesore. God but wasn't that Sullivan a fierce backward man not to mention those eejits of sons of his. And would you believe that Mrs Connor says that the pair of them are driving big cars in England now ....

Boss: Councillor Hackett....our grandfathers were out together the time of the tans. I ask you - did Kevin Barry give his young life so that three fellows in good overcoats could open up a new supermarket in our town?


(suddenly getting the drift)
Cllr. HOf course he didn't Boss.

(reaching for notebook and starting to write)
Didn't I see Noelie parading up and down outside Sullivans with a placard but it being Noelie I thought it might be a silent protest about betting taxes. You know what I mean Boss.
Now I had better make tracks. They say there's some big shot coming down from Dublin to do the opening of the Heritage Centre.

(starts to exit)
And let me assure you Boss that I'll be looking into that matter and making personal representations on your behalf as a matter of urgency.

(Going to door and calling urgently to Noelie)
Noelie, get in here as fast as your two legs will take you!

(Calling urgently to Mam)
Mam, put on your good coat and your best lipstick. We're going to the opening of the new Heritage Centre.

(Noelie re-enters out of breath holding placards)
Now Noelie, I'll be straight and tell you that this is our Dunkirk. But by God, we'll fight them at the bread counter, we'll fight them at the freezer and we'll fight them at the fresh fruit department!

(Noelie scratches head in bewilderment)
I know I'm taking my life in my hands by putting you in charge of the shop but myself and mam have to go to the opening of that bleedy Heritage Centre. We have to press home our case with Councillor Hackett or we're all done for. I'm warning you there's to be no drinking and no gambling on the premises while I'm out. Do I make myself clear?

Noelie: Yes Boss, no drinking, no gambling, fight them at the freezer and I'm in charge. You can rely on me Boss.

Boss: That's what I'm afraid of Noelie.

(Mam arrives wearing coat and bright garish lipstick)
Mam: Boss, what do you mean we're going to the opening of the Heritage Centre. I thought you said the rate payers of this town wouldn't stand for it.

(Taking off white coat and hanging it up)
Boss: It's about time the ratepayers of this town got some value for their rate money and besides Councillor Michael Hackett is going to be there. Sure the Council can't let a property like Sullivans be snatched from under their nose. Now Mick Maloney was always known as a bit of a ladies man so be sure to smile at him for all your worth. And as you're at it, smile at Sister Brid too. There's a chance she might have a job for our Mary Theresa in a few years.

Come on Mam, we're going to the opening.


(Boss and Mam exit in some haste)

































Act 2, Scene 1. Thursday Afternoon 2.30 pm


Interior of a new Heritage Centre. Relics of the past are positioned in somewhat random fashion around the room. These include items such as an old spinning wheel; an old weighing scales (or any item from an old shop); an old boot etc. There is no coherent theme to the collection apart from the fact that they are all 'old'. At one end there are seats for Frank Cunningham (Manager), Councillor Hackett, Bobby Gilmore and at the other there are seats for the invited guests. It is one hour before opening and the manager Frank Cunningham is busily making final arrangements. Overhead, a large banner proclaims:

Freefone 1800 - 1916



Frank: (talking on mobile phone while directing attention to door)
Yes Bobby. Follow the signs to The Experience from the train station. You can't miss it. I look forward to seeing you at 3.
(hangs up, moves in direction of door where there is something of a commotion. Unsuccessful attempts are being made to carry a mannequin dressed in green combat outfit through the door. There are loud bumps and knocks as the head moves in and out repeatedly like a battering ram.)

Careful Gerard! You are dealing with a priceless historical artifact. More to the left. That's it. Now keep coming through. That's it.

(Gerard the 'Gouger' Casey enters in leather jacket and spiked hair struggling under the weight of the mannequin)

Frank:Ah to paraphrase Oscar Wilde ......the unspeakable carrying the unelectable....

Gouger: Never mind that ... where will I put him.

Frank: Might I suggest his rightful place in history. That's between the spinning wheel and the Boss Murphy collection.

(putting down mannequin)
At last.......that fellow weighs a ton.

Frank: Now Gerard, let's not dilly dally. Our guests will be here shortly. Now let's have one final run through. Team Experience - take your positions!

(Gouger Casey immediately takes up position near exhibits and speaks as if in some hypnotic trance)
Gouger: Ladies and gentlemen, distinguished visitors and paying customers. Welcome to The Experience.....where the past comes to life and nothing seems as bad as it really was.

(gesturing to mannequinn)
Ladies and gentlemen, representing the revolutionary heritage of our town - observe the figure of Dan 'the gun' O Brien, freedom fighter and later town councillor. He fought one skirmish with the Black and Tans and eight council elections.

(gesturing to old boot)
Ladies and gentlemen, observe this authentic boot recovered from Hegarty's field after the 1952 local council elections.


(gesturing to old weighing scales)
Ladies and gentlemen, representing the commercial heritage of our town - observe the Murphy collection containing priceless artifacts such as an old weighing scales

Frank:Excellent Gerard. Now might I suggest you change out of that hideous example of late 20th century cowhide you're wearing and slip into something more in keeping with the brand identity of The Experience.

(exiting somewhat disenchanted)
Gouger: Yea..... I suppose....

(Councillor Hackett enters, adjusting hair piece)
Frank: Ah Councillor Hackett do come in.

(warm handshakes as Cllr. Hackett surveys the room)
Cllr. H: Well look at the fine job yee made of the old creamery building. And when yee've finished and got rid of the auld junk in the corner
(gesturing to exhibits)
sure yee won't know the place at all. There's nothing more satisfying than a trip to the dump - hah?
(Forced laughter at own joke)

Frank: Yes Councillor Hackett. I can see that both our heritage and our democracy are safe in your hands.

Cllr. H: And what's this about some big shot from Dublin coming down to do the opening? Why wouldn't yee give the job to a local lad like myself. I could do with a few snaps of myself in the newspapers these days with the local elections coming up.

Frank: Bobby Gilmore is a personal friend of mine and a well known columnist and media personality. I believe he will project just the right brand image for The Experience.

Cllr. H: Well as long as I get a picture of my gob in the local papers I don't mind.

(Gouger Casey re-enters wearing t-shirt. On the front the words
TEAM EXPERIENCE are emblazened. On the back is written
FREEPHONE 1800 - 1916.)

Frank:Excellent Gerard. Our guests will be here shortly.

(Boss and Mam enter sheepishly)
Ah, our benefactors. Mr and Mrs Murphy please do come in and take a seat. I'm so happy you were able to take up our invitation and attend the opening of the Experience. You'll be glad to see that your bequest takes pride of place in our section dealing with the commercial development of our town.

Boss: (nodding towards Councillor Hackett)
Councillor Hackett.
Cllr. H: Boss.

(nodding with forced smile towards Councillor Hackett)
Mam: Councillor Hackett.

Cllr. H: Mam.

(surveying the interior)
Boss: Councillor Hackett, fair dues to the council for doing a great job on the old creamery building. Do you know what myself and mam were saying and we passing old Sullivan's shop - that's Sullivan's shop that's up for auction at 5 o clock today you know - couldn't this town do with a second one of these heritage centres?

(looking somewhat uncomfortable)
Cllr. H: As I said Boss, I'm looking into that matter on your behalf.

(Sr. Brid enters breathless)
Sr. Brid: My apologies everyone. I was playing Mother Joseph in the final of the convent Badminton tournament and it went to a play off.

(with clenched fist)
Sock it to them baby!

Boss:(nodding towards Sr. Brid)
Sr. Brid.

Sr. Brid: Boss.

Mam: (nodding with forced smile towards Sr. Brid)
Sr. Brid.

Sr. Brid: Mam.

Frank: Yes..... now if you could all take your seats. Our distinguished guest Bobby Gilmore should be with us at any moment.

(Boss, Mam and Sr. Brid take seats in guests section. Frank and Councillor Hackett sit near podium. All look towards door in expectation. After a pause Noelie enters at speed with newspaper in shopcoat pocket)

Noelie: (in apologetic tone)
Sorry for disturbing you there Boss but I thought I'd tell you that you're down on the rota to do the 3 o clock shop announcement.

Boss: Will you clear off back to the shop man and stop annoying me with your announcements. Can't you see I've more on my mind now than that Freeman boy.

(starting to retreat, Noelie takes in the scene and pays special attention to the Gouger Casey)

Noelie: I'll see you in Whelan's later. You'll need a drink after this.

Frank: As I said, our distinguished guest Bobby Gilmore should be with us at any moment.....
(all look towards door in expectation. Mrs Connor enters with heavy coat, shopping bags and sits down)

Mrs C. (nodding towards Boss)

Boss: Mrs Connor.

Please.....we don't have to start all of that again. Now as I said we are expecting our distinguished guest Bobby Gilmore to join us at any moment.

(all look towards door in expectation. Ater a short pause Bobby Gilmore makes grand entrance and pauses to survey the interior)

Bobby: Ah.... magnificent. Simply magnificent.
(shaking hands with Frank and Councillor Hackett)
Magnificent Frank. Simply magnificent.

Frank: Now without any further delay we'll get proceedings underway. First of all, I'd like to welcome you all here today. I'd like to extend a special welcome to Councillor Michael Hackett and of course to Bobby Gilmore who has travelled from Dublin in order to perform the official opening of The Experience. I'd also like to thank Mr and Mrs Murphy who very kindly donated items to The Experience charting the commercial history of our town.
(Gouger Casey majestically points to exhibit items)

Sr. Brid: Isn't Gerard wonderful.

Frank: Friends, we stand at the threshold of a new era, an era when the past is history and the future is the past. Dear friends, welcome to the Experience!
Bobby Gilmore is best known to you all as a columnist and media personality. I am glad to say that in recent times Bobby has discovered a poetic talent. Recently he published his first collection An Embarrassment of Riches which has been particularly well received in media circles. I will now call on my good friend, and artistic soul mate, Bobby Gilmore to formally open The Experience.

(enthusiastic clapping by Frank, muted applause from everybody else)
Bobby: Friends, it is indeed a great pleasure for me to be among you today at the opening of The Experience. May I take this opportunity on your behalf to thank my good friend Frank Cunningham for inviting me here today to perform the official opening. Frank very kindly mentioned my recent poetry collection An Embarrassment of Riches and I must say that on entering, the sight of all those historic exhibits reminded me of a particularly traumatic period in my life. Yes I have suffered and as a struggling young actor in the 1960's I was reduced to playing the part of a beastly Christian Brother in a production which shall remain nameless. Returning to my lonely Rathmines bedsitter each night, I was beset by artistic self-doubt and angst. Yes, those were days of great hardship and despair.

(Takes out poetry book, clears throat and commences to read)



Fate, Is This Thy Hand?
Winter grips the city.
Pacing the floorboards
in my flatlands cell.
Last night's dinner sits
on the draining board.
Upstairs an insomniac street musician
is undergoing a mid-life crisis.
Another plate of beans
lies encrusted and decaying.
Oh humble bean,
art thou really immortal?
Another can of Spam,
Fate, is this thy hand?

(enthusiastic clapping from Frank and Mrs Connor, more muted applause from everyone else)


Frank: Bravo! Bravo!

Team Experience, take up your positions.

(Gouger Casey immediately takes up position near exhibits and speaks as if in some hypnotic trance)
Gouger: Ladies and gentlemen, distinguished visitors and paying customers. Welcome to The Experience.....where the past comes to life and nothing seems as bad as it really was.

(gesturing to mannequinn)
Ladies and gentlemen, representing the revolutionary heritage of our town - observe the figure of Dan 'the gun' O Brien, freedom fighter and later town councillor. He fought one skirmish with the Black and Tans and eight council elections.

(gesturing to old boot)
Ladies and gentlemen, observe this authentic boot recovered from Hegarty's field after the 1952 local council elections.


(gesturing to old weighing scales)
Ladies and gentlemen, representing the commercial heritage of our town - observe the Murphy collection containing priceless artifacts such as an old weighing scales.

Sr. Brid: Isn't Gerard wonderful.

Boss: (with obvious irony)
You said it Sr. Brid.

Frank:And now let us commence our pageant. Dear friends I would just like to remind you all that I am the author of this modest literary work. Without further delay......let the pageant begin!

Frank: Team Experience - take up your positions!

(Gouger takes up position at table containing special effects such as coconut shells rattler and hammer.)

Frank:(putting on large cloak, speaking with heightened sense of melodrama)
It was winter on the hillside and the memory of Black 47 was still fresh.

(coconut shells sound effects)
A horseman travelling through the dreary countryside spies a light on the hillside. Hark! There is light on yonder hill.
The horseman rides on through the driving rain and snow.
(rattler sound effects)
Driving onwards towards a light in a wretched cabin on a wretched hillside.
The horseman dismounts and calms his steed. He bangs on the wretched cabin door.
(hammer on table sound effects)
Hark! Open this door I say! Inside he hears the faint sound of melodious music. Open this door I say!
(hammer on table sound effects)
The door of this wretched hovel opens and reveals the music and mirth of a peasant cottage. Come in kind stranger, you are welcome.....
(sound of Irish music rises in the background, Frank gestures to his guests)

Come, come join in the dance! Feast yourselves on the mirth and the music.

Bobby:(suddenly rising to exit)
Good heavens, it's that time already! I'll have to fly if I'm to make the 4.05 train back to Dublin.

(hastily moving to exit)
You've been such a lovely audience. Until we meet again .... farewell. .......the stars......what is the stars.......

Frank: Come, everybody come join in the dance!

(Boss, Mam, Mrs Connor, Councillor Hackett, Sr. Brid and Gouger sheepishly
line up in straight line. Music rises in background. 'Dancers' take part in simple Riverdance type performance pairing off as follows:
Mam + Councillor Hackett, Boss + Sr. Brid, Gouger + Mrs Connor. All look distinctly uncomfortable as Frank continues to narrate.)

The strain of the jig, the pulse of the beat, the mirth of the dance as it resonates in the evening air. The beat of the bodhran stick on goatskin with its dark pagan sounds connecting us to our origins.
A peasant cottage on a wretched hillside. Music and mirth. Welcome to The Experience.

(curtain draws as music continues)



ACT 3 Scene 1 Thursday Afternoon 4 pm

Noelie in charge of empty shop. Holding clipboard and nervously checking watch in anticipation of next customer announcement.

(Stands at microphone to make announcement)
Noelie: Customers - have we got bargains for you today.

(looks around at empty shop and clears throat)
Customers - have we got bargains for you today.
Best quality jelly 79 p.
Best quality firelighters - 99 p.
Best quality fat bacon £1.49...........

(pauses, looks around empty shop and puts on Boss' white coat over his and continues)
Customers - welcome to Noelie's Convenience Store and have we got bargains for you today.
Best quality jelly was 79 p - now 69p.
Best quality firelighters were 99 p - now 89p
Best quality fat bacon was £1.49 - now £1.29
Best quality beans were 49 p - now 39 p.
Best quality dripping was 99 pence - 79 pence
Nappies were £2.49 - now £2.20. And with every pack of nappies bought this week, we'll give you two free baby cream packs.

(looks around empty shop, goes into racing commentator mode with imaginary binoculars)
With 5 furlongs to race, Strategic Management leads on the inside followed by Mayday, Alkacelzar and Noelie's Choice. Coming to the final jump it's Strategic Management being challenged by Alkacelzar and Mayday and these are well clear of Noelie's Choice. Over the last and it's still Strategic Management from Alkacelzar with Noelie's Choice starting to make a strong challenge on the outside. With two furlongs to go it's still Strategic Management being challenged by Noelie's Choice and Alkacelzar. And it's Noelie's Choice on the outside putting in a tremendous finish ......Noelie's Choice pulling away from Strategic Management. Noelie's Choice powering ahead to win by 3 lengths....

(sound of boxes being kicked - Noelie quickly removes white coat)
(Boss enters )
Boss: Who in God's name left those boxes in the lane like that for someone to trip over.

Noelie:I think they were left there since the deliveries this morning.....

Boss: Did anyone see the like of the codology in the old creamery building. I've had enough of that Experience to last me a lifetime. And to think they're wasting the hard earned money of the ratepayers of this town on that.

(Mam enters exhausted, limping with an ill-fitting shoe)
Mam: Oh Boss I'm exhausted. My new shoes are killing me and I've face cramp from smiling at Councillor Hackett, that reptile with the hair piece. And then Sr. Brid - I tell you it's unnatural for anyone to be that nice. I'm going for a lie down.

Boss: You do that Mam.
(putting on white coat and turning to Noelie)
If you heard the racket from Shanahan's bookies and we passing up the street - they had one of those racing commentaries turned up full. Is this town gone mad?

(engaging in some ad hoc polishing)
Noelie:It's terrible entirely Boss - they've no regard for the ratepayers of this town.

Boss: You stay there Noelie. I'll go and clear those boxes from the lane. Call me if you hear any news about the auction. Those Shanahans with their races........

(J.J. enters)
Well Noelie, any news on Mary Theresa's call?

Noelie:Not a word J.J. - We're living in dangerous times around here my friend. The Gouger Casey reckons that Mam has the hots for him the way she kept smiling at him at the opening. The Gouger said that that big shot from Dublin reckoned she was giving him the come on too. I don't think Boss knows what kind of a woman he's married to. But sure he's more interested in that book. The Gouger reckons that the whole town is going to blow skyhigh any day soon.

J.J. Ah, it's a wicked hot August alright.

(Boss enters)
Boss: Noelie, will you ever wash down the front of the shop like a good boy ?

Noelie:Yes Boss.
(Noelie exits with bucket and brush)

Boss: And Noelie, don't let me catch you stacking boxes in the lane again like a good boy.

J.J. Well Boss, was there a big crowd up at the opening?

Boss: Only some big shot from Dublin reciting a poem about a bleedy can of spam of all things. I tell you J.J. pigmeat does funny things to peoples' minds as Mrs Connor should well know. But tell me J.J. - is there a big crowd in for the auction ?
(viewing building through blinds)

J.J. Just a few Boss. They were gathering up at the hotel when I was crossing the street. And tell me Boss did Mary Theresa get the call yet?

Boss: Any day now J.J.

(calling urgently)
Noelie, come back in here like a good boy.

You say there was just a few. And tell me now J.J. was there any sign of those three fellows with the good overcoats ?

(returning breathless with bucket and mop)
Noelie: God Boss, give me a chance I'm only after starting to wash down the front.

Boss: Forget the front Noelie. Put down that bucket and mop and pick up your placards and go over and stand in front of Sullivan's. And make sure they all see you as they're going into the auction like a good boy.

(picking up placards and exiting)
Yes Boss. Right away Boss.

Boss: As I was saying J.J. was there any sign of those three fellows with the good overcoats up at the hotel?

J.J. Not that I could see Boss but then they're the type who wouldn't advertise their presence if you know what I mean.

Boss: And Hackett - was there any sign of him or any official looking fellow from the council?

J.J. No Boss, sure what would the council want with old Sullivan's shop?

Boss: Well J.J. do you know what I said to Councillor Hackett at the opening? I said: Councillor Hackett, this town could do with a second heritage centre so it could. The grassroots will never stand for it if the Council lets Sullivan's go.

J.J. I suppose so.


Boss: (as if suddenly inspired)
Do you know what you'll do J.J.
Ramble down to the auction just to see who is there. Wouldn't it be gas all the same if those three fellows with the good overcoats turned up? Hah. And just think of the sport if someone from the council turned up too.
(nervous laugh)

J.J. (moving to exit)
No problem at all Boss. The walk will do me good. I'll report back as soon as I have news.

Boss: (urgently)
Mary Theresa! Would you come in here quick!
(Mary Theresa enters looking aggrieved)
Now we all know your hair is a show but we'll forget about that for the time being, bad and all as it is.
Did you hear what Mrs Connor said - the young Keeffe girl got the call to training this morning.

Mary T.Why should I care - I'm going to be a beautician.

Boss: Now you give over that foolishness my young lady and do what you're told for a change. You'll take that call if you're lucky enough to get it.

Mary T.Michael James says I could be a model if I wanted to.

Boss: Did he now. And tell me what other foolishness did he fill your head with?
Oh, he's an exotic bird for these parts alright but mark my words, my little girleen, that fellow has only one thing on his mind and it isn't drink either. And to think you'd listen to any grown man who spends his day washing womens' hair.
(J.J. re-enters breathless)

J.J. God Boss, tis wicked hot outside. Has there ever been a summer like it?

Boss: (eagerly)
Forget the weather man. Any news J.J.?

J.J. Give me a chance to catch my breath Boss.

Boss: Mary Theresa get J.J. a glass of water like a good girl.
(Mary Theresa exits to get water)

J.J. Do you know Boss, you were right - aren't those three bucks with the good overcoats sitting up in the front row of the auction as bold as you like.

Boss: And the council?

J.J. Not a sign of Councillor Hackett or a council official.

Boss: I knew it. By God I knew it.
(Mary Theresa re-enters with water, Boss peers desperately through blinds in panic)

J.J. Mary Theresa - you're a saviour. You'll make a fine teacher so you will.

Boss: (regaining composure and attempting to project air of confidence)
Do you know what - I reckon there isn't enough business in this town for two supermarkets. What would you think J.J.?

J.J. If it says so in the book, I suppose.

Boss: Not a hope, sure it must be plain to those fellows that there isn't the makings of a living in old Sullivan's shop.

J.J. I suppose.

Boss: Do you know what you'll do J.J. - go down to the auction and put in a bid. Make sure now they don't know who you're bidding for. What is it they're looking for Sullivan's - £65,000. Well trump them and bid £70,000 straight up.

J.J. (making for door)
As you say Boss.

Boss: Sure you'd hate to see those poor fools getting their tails burnt around here.
(J.J. exits, Boss again scans the scene through the blinds)
That'll teach them to take on Boss Murphy in his own patch.
Mary Theresa did the late post come yet?

Mary T.If it's about that call to training I've already told you I'm going to be a beautician.

Boss: You'll give over that foolishness right here and now. Do you hear.
Do you realise that if those fellows buy Sullivan's they could well close us down. And where will you be then with your beautician? I'll tell you where - you'll be scrubbing floors alongside your mother and myself over in that new supermarket. Is that what you want to be - a skivvy? You forget all about that hairdresser now my young lady and knuckle down to what we know is best. Do you hear?
(in desperation)
Is it that you have a notion of that hairdresser?

Mary T.(sudden reticence)
It's not him.

Boss: What do you mean it's not him. You mean there's some other fellow filling your young head with foolish thoughts?

J.J. (suddenly re-enters)
God Boss but tis wicked hot outside.

Boss: Well J.J. did you see to that?

J.J. I did. I bid the £70,000 as you said Boss and what did the three sour pusses in the front row do only bid £75,000.

Boss: Jesus Christ, they'll ruin me.
(looking out blinds in panic)
£75,000 for that pile of stones - they must be mad.
And where's that shagger Noelie after going to - I only see the placards propped up against Sullivan's. If that fellow was with Our Lord in the Garden of Gethsemane he'd sneak off to the bookies!
Go £80,000 J.J. Quick, before they close the sale. And if you see Noelie tell him I'll swing for him!

J.J. That'll put the run on them Boss.
(J.J. exits at speed)

Boss: (mopping brow)
My God, I don't think I can take much more of this.
Now Mary Theresa where were we - you were saying you had a notion of some fellow.

Mary T.(short pause)
I'm in love with Gerard Casey.

Boss: (explodes)
You mean the Gouger Casey. Are you out of your mind girl? We've the baliffs nearly at the door and you tell me you're in love with the Gouger Casey. Do you know the tramp you're dealing with?

Mary T.Gerard has told me he loves me.

Boss: Love? What does the Gouger Casey know about love?
That fellow is happiest when he's peeing in the street like a common dog. What does he know about love?

Mary T.If you mean the court case - Gerard has promised me he'll turn over a new leaf.

Boss: Turn over a new poor little girleen. All his seed, breed and generation were corner boys. Don't you see -even if he wanted to, the Gouger Casey couldn't improve himself. I can tell you I had a bellyfull of that pious fish face Sr. Brid at the opening with her "Isn't Gerard wonderful?" If she saw his antics around this town on a Saturday night she might revise her opinion of him. Isn't Gerard wonderful - codswollop.

J.J. (re-enters out of breath)
Boss! You won't believe it, haven't they bid £90,000. Oh I can tell you they're bold alright.

Boss: (goes to venetian blinds and looks out pensively)
Sullivan's Shop......and I'm sure Old Sullivan is enjoying seeing the agony he's putting me through.
Bid £100,000 J.J. and that's my final throw.....

J.J. (retreating to door)
Oh that'll knock the wind out of them Boss.

Boss: (in desperation)
Mary Theresa, as your father I'm begging you to give up all this foolishness about beauticians and that fellow Casey. I know it's a hot summer.....

Mary T.You don't understand...........

Boss: But Mary Theresa, you're our only one, our little treasure. We didn't blow on your porridge so that you'd squander your life on all this foolishness.
(Mary Theresa starts to sob)
Just think, if you played your cards right you could get a job up in the convent from Sr. Brid teaching the little ones. You could be fine and independent for yourself with your own car. And you wouldn't have to bother with the crowd around here to make a living either......You know your mother and myself only want what's best for you.....
(Mary Theresa runs off sobbing uncontrollably)

J.J. (re-enters out of breath to see Mary Theresa exiting)
Tis the heat Boss, it has the country driven mad.

Boss: (subdued)
Indeed. Well J.J. what news have you this time?

J.J. (extending hand)
I want to shake the hand of the new owner of Sullivan's Shop. Put it there Boss.
You're the clever one alright! Sure you had it all worked out from the start!

Boss: (relief)
Strategic Management, J.J., that's all.

J.J. Whatever you say Boss. I'm sure tis all in the book anyway.

Boss: (basking in glory)
Ah yes J.J., That's Strategic Management for you now.

J.J. When I bid £100,000 - you should have seen their faces. And what did they do then only turn on their heels and run like scalded cats. Well I never saw the likes of it before...

Boss: (Looking out venetian blinds)
I'm glad those buckos realised they were out of their depth. No one messes with Boss Murphy in his own backyard.








Act 3: Scene 2. Sunday Evening

A late summer's evening. Two large suitcases stand ready for collection. Boss is in upbeat mood as he turns from looking out through the venetian blinds and looks impatiently at his watch.

Mam: (putting on coat and hurriedly applying garish red lipstick)
Tell Mary Theresa to hurry up or she'll miss the bus. I'll be outside.
(moving to exit)
Oh, and by the way Boss, your dinner is in the oven.

Boss: (Going to side and calls out urgently)
Mary Theresa will you hurry up girl. It's 20 past 7. You'll miss that bus if you're not careful.

(Mary Theresa enters buttoning coat)

Hurry up girl. Mam is waiting outside.
Where's that fellow hiding?
(goes to door and calls)
Noelie will you come in here and take Mary Theresa's cases to the bus station like a good boy.
(turning to Mary Theresa)
Now when you get off the bus, get a taxi straight to the college. Do you hear me?

Mary T.I hear you.

Boss: And whatever you do, don't talk to any strange men. They're never worth it.

Noelie:(enters at speed after hurriedly extinguishing a cigarette)
Now Boss, oh yes Mary Theresa's suitcases.
(picking up suitcases and making for the door)
And isn't it fine for her going off to the city for herself.

Boss: None of your lip Noelie.

Noelie:Yes Boss.(exits with cases)

Boss: (awkwardly)
Now Mary Theresa, my little petal - are you sure you have everything? And do what the nuns tell you now, won't you?

Mary T.Don't worry, I will.
(turns to leave)

Boss: Mary Theresa - you can hold your head up high walking down that street. You needn't look at any of them a second time now.

(walks back to cash register)
Ah yes, the crowd around here will have to shape up alright.

(Mrs. Connors enters with usual heavy coat and scarf)
Ah Mrs. Connors, lovely evening again thank God.

Mrs C.They say there could be rain later on mind you.

Boss: (dismissively)
Indeed. Sure anything is possible around here.

Mrs C.And Mary Theresa got the call.

Boss: Indeed she did. Mam has just brought her to the bus this very minute.
We always knew she had it in her.
(handing over bacon)
You can't beat the bit of fat bacon, can you?
And you enjoyed the opening? Wasn't that big shot from Dublin a show with his poem about the can of spam?

Mrs C Boss, I must confess to two weaknesses: fat bacon and metaphysical poetry. Wasn't Bobby Gilmore a lovely boy?

Boss: Indeed, Mrs Connor sure haven't we all our own troubles?

Mrs C.And what's this I hear about you buying old Sullivan's shop?

Boss: (filling up with pride)
Did I ever show you this book Mrs Connor? STRATEGIC MANAGEMENT by Chuck Freeman. It's all in here. Everything you ever wanted to know about running a business.
I'll tell, those three fellows with the good overcoats didn't put up much of a fight when it came to it.


Mrs C.What three fellows with good overcoats were they?

Boss: The three fellows at the auction, of course.

Mrs C.But sure there was no one bidding at the auction but J.J. and we all thought he had a problem with the water the way he kept running in and out all the time.

Boss: (sudden note of alarm)
You mean there was no one bidding against J.J.?

Mrs C.Of course not. Sure who'd want to buy old Sullivan's shop?

Boss: The dirty little schemer. Is it any wonder he hasn't been near the place in days.

Mrs C.(making for door)
Well I'll be off. And they say you paid £100,000 for old Sullivans shop. They were thinking around town that was a bit much but then of course they haven't been studying that book like you have so they wouldn't know much about these things. (exits)

Boss: (resentfully)
How could he do it? The only man in this town I thought I could trust and what does he do - knife me in the back when he gets half a chance. And to think he sat on that stool for the last 20 years. The weasel. I should have known that blood is always thicker than water with those Sullivans.


Mam: (enters in upbeat mood)
Well who did I meet at the Bus Station but the bank manager's wife......

Boss: Would you give over your foolish talk woman. Don't you see we could all be in the Poor House this time next week.

Mam: What do you mean Boss?

Boss: Did you see J.J. anywhere on your travels?

Mam: Now that you mention it, I saw him dragging a suitcase after him up the street. He said he was going to London for a holiday. And do you know, I thought it was a bit queer to be going to the strand in London.

Boss: Ah yes, Judas Iascariott with his thirty pieces of silver. There never was anyone bidding against us at the auction just J.J. making a laughing stock of us before the rest of the town.
(going to venetian blinds)
£100,000 for a pile of old Sullivan's rubble. And I bet old Sullivan is doing a four-handed reel in hell this very moment at the thought of extracting that kind of money out of me. The man never did a day's work to equal it while he was alive.

Mam: Look Boss, don't take it to heart. Wouldn't it be worse if we still had Mary Theresa on our hands. Do you know what you'll do - sit down there and I'll bring out your dinner. It'll be a little treat for you. (exits)

Boss: (going to venetian blinds)
The mainest street in the mainest town in Ireland. I bet they're laughing up their sleeves at me tonight. Oh yes, they always despised any bit of thrift and hard work, so they did. There was never anything for them only big talk and big plans especially when they were full of drink. And that's as far as their plans will ever go. Just like their horses - still running. It's in the lanes and the backs that you see the extent of their dreams and ambitions..... a bedraggled shirt on a clothes line flailing in a stiff March breeze ..... an oul washing machine abandoned and rusting in peace at the back of a yard.

How many times did you see one of them start a little kitchen extension only to leave it thrown there half built so that they could have a bit of style for a daughter's wedding. And when they do finish it you can be sure they'll buy the best curtains that borrowed money can buy.

Me - I'm more a man for the simple pleasures in life: the first glint of sunlight down the lane in the morning as you open the shop....the sound of the convent bell on a November evening as you round the hill walk ..... counting the takings at the end of a good day in the shop ice-cream cone on a warm summer's day. Yes... the simple pleasures in life....

Mam: (re-enters with plate)
Now Boss, sit down there for yourself and eat that. And don't let that crowd get to you. Tis only jealous of you they are.

Boss: (sits down and begins eating)
Was Mary Theresa lonely getting on the bus?

Mam: Not at all. Perky out. She'll make out alright. She said she'll be home Friday night.

Boss: (obviously enjoying the food)
Good. Good. Do you know - I don't care what Mrs Connor says but you can't beat a good feed of steak.
(pausing from eating as if suddenly inspired)
Do you know what I'm going to do - I'm going to let Sullivan's Shop go to wreck and ruin. It'll be like a monument to idleness in this town. You'll have yanks in big flowery shirts pulling up in cars taking photos of the dock weeds growing out through the windows. You'll even have people around town rubbing their hands and saying what a terrible shame it is and why can't something be done about it. But I'll show them that Boss Murphy means business. They won't be sniggering and laughing then.

Mam: (moving to exit)
I'll go up along Boss. Turn out the lights when you're coming.

Boss: (gets up from table and looks out through venetian blinds)
£100,000 for that heap of rubble....and by God will I get the value of every penny of it.

(looks at watch)
Ten past nine and old Mahony the butcher is excavating his nose like he has done at this time every night for the last 20 years. And still he hasn't found anything of interest. The secret life of the town. Everyone is given a part and everyone plays the part in the great drama that is this town. They're born together, they grow up together, they live together, they die together. They're even buried together in the new graveyard out the road. For ever and ever.

(turning from venetian blinds and surveying empty shop)
Oh yes, they're birds of a feather round here alright - Noelie, the Gouger Casey and J.J. - codgers every last one of them.

(picking up copy of STRATEGIC MANAGEMENT)
STRATEGIC MANAGEMENT my arse, the crowd around here would teach that yank a trick or two any day of the week.

(Tosses book into waste bin and pauses before exiting)
Coming Mam!