Kildare soldier playwright’s stage ambition

A former solider is hoping to stage a play based on one of his books.

A former solider is hoping to stage a play based on one of his books.

Michael McDonough, who spent many army years in the Curragh, has been working on turning his first book, “Sheep, Shite and Soldiers,” into a stage play.

The 82 year old author was part of an Irish army battalion which served in what was known as the Congo in the 1960’s.

He served with the Irish Army from 1949 to 1965.

After leaving the army, armed with an MA in Education from Trinity, he advised on physical fitness and today, remarkably fit for his age, continues to ski regularly in France.

He became the first physical education inspector in the Republic of Ireland.

Michael coached John Lawlor, who got fourth in the hammer event in the Rome Olympics and was a European hammer throwing champion. “He’s almost forgotten when it comes to sporting history,” said Michael.

His first book was Sheep, Shite and Soldiers, in which he introduced his Jack Muldoon character.

He followed this up with another Muldoon story, Venture and Venus, in which the hero skied in France and fought in the Belgian Congo.

While he says the stories are all fictional there is much that will be recognisable to army veterans of the period.

Michael McDonough’s own adventure mirror those of his Muldoon character.

He had a real life meeting with the famous German filmmaker of the pre World Ward II period, Leni Riefenstahl, who had made a now controversial film about the 1936 Berlin Olympics, among others.

Because of her associations with Hitler and his team in the 1930’s, she spent much of her later life trying to clear her name as a Nazi propagandist.

From her brief contact with Michael McDonough – they met in 1954 during a week long skiing holiday - she asked him to try and get copies of her films in various State archives, including Ireland. “She was a beautiful woman,” he recalled.

Writing remains in the McDonough blood.

More recently, he has written as yet unpublished short stories based on his published books.

He did a course with the Fishamble Theatre company three years ago to upgrade his writing skills and produced a dramatic version of Sheep, Shite and Soldiers, with tutoring from Gavin Kostick in Trinity.

At the moment Trinity is in the process of arranging a reading of the play, which has not yet been staged. “I would like to get an amateur group to stage it,” he said, with county Kildare in mind.

- Henry Bauress