About the Play

Lady of the Chimney Corner

Is love enough to overcome destitution, religious discrimination, and human indifference in post-famine Ireland? Or is pain and suffering, in reality, a message from God?

Setting, Time & Story

Ireland, late 1800s, post potato famine.  Anna had a great head for larnin’; Jamie was a shoemaker’s apprentice. Illiteracy was common enough and might have been overlooked, but he was a Protestant and she a Catholic, and mixed marriages were unthinkable. Disowned, they moved to the poorest area of the poorest town to see whether love was enough.
"I can see that cabin now. I can feel the dampness of the mud floor and count the patches where the plaster had fallen from the whitewashed walls. My father was a cobbler, but, our little world being largely a community of barefooted people; work was scarce.  We often went to bed supperless, but never without wonderful stories, of which my mother had an inexhaustible supply. We had as close neighbors the chimney sweeps, the local ragman, a process server, and a lot of widows and orphans and wastrels and derelicts who were uncatalogable. How they all managed to eke out existence has always been a mystery to me.”
Through intelligence, ingenuity and hard work, son Alex eventually became a pastor in America. With religion teaching him that "(God) deals out good things to church people, and experiences to others to make them good," he worries that the suffering Anna and Jamie endure could be a warning about their ultimate salvation.
Additional settings: British navy ship deck; slums in the Bowery of New York City.
A Play Based on True Events
In the preface to "My Lady of the Chimney Corner," Mr. Irvine wrote that he "pieced and patched" the manuscript together, "not even chang(ing) or    disguis(ing) the names of the little group of neighbors who lived with us at the bottom of the world."  The names of individuals and core storylines continue in this play over 100 years later.

Format & Length

 Two Acts.  Intermission between Acts One and Two.
Approximately two hours in length.