When “once in a lifetime” rolls around, you don’t cry “Oh, if only.” No.

“I’m going, no matter what!” is the response that gets your dreams fulfilled.

Mary, who lives in the UK, decided that Gabriel Byrne, on stage, in Dublin, performing a stage version of his memoir, was a “once in a lifetime” for her. So she went. Three times!

Here is her report, for which we say a loud and resounding THANK YOU! heart

All of the words are hers, and so are the photos.


February 9, 2022

My first visit to Ireland! I got to my hotel in the evening on Sunday, January 30. Unable to wait, I walked the ten minutes to the Gaiety Theatre, knowing that Gabriel’s performance was about to finish. I watched the people spill out of the theatre, smiling and animated. I asked if it was good and several people gathered around me, all talking at once, trying to convey just how good it was and that I must see it. I confessed to having tickets for the Tuesday and Thursday performances and none of them thought that was odd. One lady said “Great idea! If I can get a ticket, I will go again.” Gabriel looked down from the posters in a very knowing way and everyone seemed reluctant to leave the lights of the theatre.

I could not wait to be these people. Tuesday was a long way off.

Mary in Dublin

On Monday, I went to the theatre box office and asked if they would deliver a card to Gabriel. It was a thank you card on behalf of Byrneholics. They were happy to do this and needed no persuasion. I purchased my third ticket, for Wednesday night. [Note from Stella: A third ticket sounds like something I would do, Mary. heart ]

Tuesday, it seems, was the Premiere, so I was greeted by photographers and journalists in front of the Gaiety, waiting for the President to arrive. This did allow me my one shot at walking a red carpet. Hilarious.

Red Carpet. Notice the hand prints in bronze?
Gabriel’s hand prints will be joining them soon!

So there I am, holding my breath as the curtain rises. It goes dark. I see someone moving on stage. The lights go up and there he is. Thunderous applause and then silence. Before he speaks, you are already held in limbo, bound, transfixed. He is talking about the countryside where he grew up. I realised I had not been listening, but leaning forward, intent on his face and hand movements. Thank goodness I have other chances.

The stage is sparse, with perching points. A fractured mirror is the backdrop. He moves from the stool to the chair to the desk, each a story, a memory, a ghost. His voice changes as he becomes each of the characters and I see them so clearly. The way he relished making us laugh with comic re-tellings. Sometimes he laughs with us. On my second visit, when he talked about being sent to the Christian Brothers school, several of the audience gasped and “Oh, no” was heard, his shoulders shook as he crossed the stage and he turned, chuckling. It took a minute to regain the story.

The stage at the Gaiety Theatre, with its “perching points”

Then the serious face, when he speaks of fear and sadness. We got upset. We cried. Someone outside the theatre said he played our emotions like a harpist. I only know I felt like I had experienced part of his life.

Each of the performances peerless, slight changes to wording and reaction to the audience, but he never missed a beat. One audience silent to the end and then rapturous applause at the end, another applauding at every given opportunity.

The best one for me was my final performance on Thursday. I had a front row seat, so near it seemed he was looking and talking directly to me throughout. When he sits at the front of the stage, I could have leaned forward and put a comforting hand on him. It was also the most emotional I had seen him. At the end, the applause went on forever, even after he had come back to thank us.

I was completely in awe and enchanted.

The perfect mask for the occasion! Elegant! heart

14 Comments

  1. Thank you very much for sharing this Mary. Lovely to read. Beautiful mask.

  2. Thanks for sharing with us Mary. I wish I was there with you. Maybe he will do something in NYC. If so, I will definitely get a ticket.

    • Mary Hills

      Kim, I am really hoping, because it was so successful and if the streamed version takes off, he will consider other countries. I know he enjoyed being on stage again, you could see it in his response to the audience.

  3. Oh wow! You lucky lady Mary! Thank you for sharing with us

  4. Thank you for your lovely story and beautiful photos, Mary. I was holding a breath while reading it. You described the play and emotions that Gabriel evoked in you so vividly that I almost saw him moving on stage telling the story of his life.
    I can’t wait to watch it online and I’m sure this would be his greatest and most difficult role ❤

    • Mary Hills

      Violetta you are right it seemed an emotionally draining role, most difficult but I suspect his most favourite.

  5. When audience members crowd around to tell you how great it is, you know it has to be a treasure!

  6. What a wonderful experience. Thank You for sharing it with us.
    #great mask

    • Mary Hills

      My absolute pleasure, I knew it would be good but was blown away by how fantastic he was, people used the term master of his craft and he was all of that and more, so relatable and vulnerable.

  7. Dear Mary, thank you so much for your story. I’ve also fulfilled this dream and flew from Berlin to Dublin – just to be able to experience this man live. You described it so wonderfully: he enters the stage and even before he has said the first word, one is under his spell. To experience this evening with him was overwhelming. He is truly a harpist of emotions. He often made me laugh but also made me cry. His face, his gestures, his voice. It was all so familiar – like meeting an old friend. This evening will always remain in my memory.

  8. Mary Hills

    Oh Rosi so happy you saw this, it’s a pity we did not meet but so happy to know we shared that very special experience. As you say, never to be forgotten, I admired him before, I am obsessed now.

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