Margaretta D'Arcy

Margaretta D'Arcy
Margaretta Ruth D'Arcy
Born 1934
Known for actress, writer, playwright and activist

Margaretta Ruth D'Arcy (b. 1934), an Irish actress, writer, playwright, and peace-activist.[1][2][3][4][5] Margaretta is a member of Aosdána since its inauguration and is known for addressing Irish nationalism, civil liberties, and women's rights in her work.[2][3]

Margaretta was born in London to a Russian Jewish mother and an Irish Catholic father.[1] D'Arcy worked in small theatres in Dublin from the age of fifteen and later became an actress.[6] Married in 1957 to English playwright and author John Arden, they frequently collaborate.[7] They settled in Galway and established the Galway Theatre Workshop in 1976.[6] The couple has written a number of stage pieces and improvisational works for amateur and student players, including The Happy Haven (1960) and The Workhouse Donkey. She has written and produced many plays, including “The Non-Stop Connolly Show”.[2]

Margaretta D'Arcy has written a number of books, including Tell Them Everything, Awkward Corners (with John Arden), and Galway's Pirate Women: a global trawl.[8]



As an activist she joined Bertrand Russell's anti-nuclear Committee of 100 in 1961.[2]

Jailed in the H-block in Northern Ireland, her book "Tell Them Everything" tells the story of her time during the H-block protests.[2]

Margaretta directed a film Yellow Gate Women, a film about the attempts by women of Greenham Common Women's Peace Camp to outwit the British and United States Military at RAF Greenham Common with bolt cutters and legal challenges.[9]

Challenging censorship, since 1987 she ran a women’s kitchen pirate-radio from her home in Galway.[2]




Her books include;[8][10]


Her plays include;[10]

  • The Pinprick of History
  • Vandaleur's Folly
  • Women's Voices from W. of Ireland
  • Prison-voice of Countess Markievicz
  • A Suburban Suicide (a radio play, BBC3, 1995)
  • Lajwaad (The Good People, play by Abdel Kader Alloula, adapted by M. D’Arcy for readings in London, 1995); and Dublin (Irish Writers’ Centre, 1996).

Plays devised as group productions include;[10]

  • Muggins is a Martyr;
  • The Vietnam War-game;
  • 200 Years of Labour;
  • The Mongrel Fox;
  • No Room at the Inn;
  • Mary’s Name;
  • Seán O’Scrúdu;
  • Silence.

Plays written in collaboration with John Arden include;[10]

  • The Business of Good Government;
  • The Happy Haven;
  • Ars Longa Vita Brevis;
  • The Royal Pardon;
  • The Hero Rises Up;
  • The Ballygombeen Bequest;
  • The Non-Stop Connolly Show;
  • Keep the People Moving (BBC Radio);
  • Portrait of a Rebel (RTÉ Television);
  • The Manchester Enthusiasts (BBC 1984 and RTÉ 1984 under the title The Ralahine Experiment);
  • Whose is the Kingdom? (9 part radio play, BBC 1987).


Films as a director and those produced by Women in Media & Entertainment;[10]

  • Yellow Gate Women, 2007. Shown at the Galway Film Fleadh and Independent International Video & Film Festival (New York) [2008].[11]
  • Shell Hell, co-directed by Finn Arden, 2005. Shown at Galway Arts Festival, the Stranger than Fiction Festival at the IFC (Dublin) and the Human Rights Documentary Festival (Glasgow).
  • Big Plane Small Axe, the mis-trials of Mary Kelly, 2005. Awarded 2nd Prize for Best Feature Documentary at Galway Film Fleadh and also shown at Cork Film Festival, Portobello Film Festival, Human Rights Documentary Festival (Glasgow), and the Irish Film Festival (San Francisco).
  • Circus Exposé, 1987. (60 minutes) Shown at Celtic Film Festival (Inverness) and Foyle Festival (Derry).


Further reading

External links

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