The Montague Hotel is a real hotel – was a real hotel. On the far reaches of the rural town I grew up in, on the flat plains of Ireland’s midsection, my parents celebrated their wedding there in 1975. The Montague was the centre of things, where people celebrated everything, all of life and death – christenings to funerals and everything in between. It was a hitching-post on the Country–and–Western touring circuit, filled with the music of outsiders: frontier ballads of exile and emigration, outlaws and open plains, heartbreak, loneliness, loss. Closing its doors in 2000, it reopened in 2008. But not as a hotel. Taken over by the Reception and Integration Agency, it was now a detention centre for asylum seekers.
This weird spiderwebby place. Disjointed narratives trapped like air bubbles between layers of old wallpaper in its ballroom. I am preoccupied with the complexity of culture, society, history – in how story and history is told, recalled, contained – and so am less interested in telling the real stories of this Montague than in taking a sideways glance at it, exploring how a refracted, fictionalised Montague could exist next to the real thing, whose political situation is present and pressing. In a weird confluence of real and unreal, I’ve been searching for this story and a form for its telling.
Written by Kate Heffernan, commissioned by Mermaid Arts Centre. During 2015, I was supported by mentor Tim Crouch through Pan Pan’s International Mentorship and Bursary Programme.