...the house was filled and the energy was good...” - Gail M. Burns

The Last High Queen

Preview by the Valley Advocate

The Once and Future Queen

By James Heflin

Ever heard of Gormlaith? That's not a monster in the Beowulf mold, or some ancient villain—Gormlaith was in fact the wife of one of the most famous men in Irish history, High King of Ireland Brian Boru, whose harp still graces Irish money.

In The Last High Queen of Ireland, a musical directed by Linda McInerney and written by Talay Delaney, the music of Rosemary Caine provides the driving force for the story of Gormlaith. Balinese shadow puppets, video and dance help complete the picture of Ireland in the Middle Ages.

It's all in service of returning Gormlaith to the history books. As the press release puts it: "Gormlaith, [who was] an equally intriguing and powerful figure, has disappeared from historical narrative altogether. Hers is a fierce and dark tale in which issues of gender, power, political transformation, and memory merge."

The play stars Stephanie Carlson as Gormlaith, Thom Griffin as Brian Boru and Maureen McElligott as the sorceress Aval.

July 9-12, 16-19, $20/students and seniors, $25/general, 8 p.m. Thurs.-Sat., and Sundays at 2 p.m., Reid Theatre, Deerfield Academy,

Deerfield, (413) 559-7678 or cabotix.com.

2009 The Valley Advocate

Praise for "the Last High Queen of Ireland"

"Caine's music is delightful and was nicely performed by a six-person 
band, including Caine on harp, composed primarily of acoustic stringed 
. Again, there is a lot of faux Celtic music out there, but 
this didn?t feel like Caine was trying to sound like anyone or anything 
other than her own unique self, and she is an Irish woman therefore the 
music is Irish. 

The house was filled and the energy was good at the matinee performance 
I attended. People in the Pioneer Valley obviously expect good things 
from Old Deerfield Productions, and /The Last High Queen of Ireland/ did 
not disappoint. I was very happy that I took that journey, both 
literally and theatrically, to a different place and learned a little 
bit more about the women (and men) who are my ancestors.

Gail M. Burns

Wilde Irish Women (c) 2022