Theatre: Searing story of Traveller woman’s struggle marks historic first at the Abbey

Walls and Windows by Rosaleen McDonagh is the first portrayal of a Traveller in Irish theatre not as a comic foil or as the Other, but as an ordinary person

Ericka Roe, Hazel Clifford and Hilda Fay in Rosaleen McDonagh’s Walls and Windows at the Abbey Theatre, directed by Jason Byrne. Picture: Ros Kavanagh

“This book is not the Traveller story. It’s just one of many to come,” Rosaleen McDonagh writes in her recently published autobiographical essay collection Unsettled. The author and activist, who has been producing work for the theatre for more than a decade, is as resistant to speaking for other members of her tribe as she is committed to subverting stereotypes about Travellers.

As a woman who sits both within and outside of the Traveller experience, ...