New play from Kildare woman chases the ‘Wine Geese’

A KILDARE town woman is set to bring the story of the history of wine in Ireland to life in a new play.

A KILDARE town woman is set to bring the story of the history of wine in Ireland to life in a new play.

But it’s not the story you might assume.

A couple of years ago Susan Boyle was working on a TG4 documentary when she realised that despite not being able to grow vines, the Irish have actually played a leading role in the development of the wine industry down through the centuries.

At points throughout the last millenium, the Irish were the biggest importers of wine amongst non-wine producing nations in Europe.

And she learned that many of the famous ‘wild geese’ families who left Ireland in the 16th, 17th and 18th centuries brought their educated wine-noses with them.

In particular in the 17th century more than 200 Irish families moved to Bordeaux in France and changed what we now know as the wine industry.

The names of these, including the Phelans, Bartons and Lynchs, can still be seen today on some of the world’s most desired bottles of wine.

As a result, Susan has spent the past few months working on a theatrical re-telling of the story of what she calls the ‘Wine Geese’.

The result is the aptly titled ‘A Wine Goose Chase’ which will have its debut as part of the Dublin Fringe Festival in September.

The play is written and performed by Ms. Boyle with direction from the award winning director, writer and actor Gina Moxley.

Susan says she was fascinated by why the Wine Geese left Ireland for France. “And how did they go on to influence wine-making in Europe and across the globe?”

The play intertwines this fascinating history with her personal experiences of the contemporary wine world.

And appropriately enough, the performance of the play will double as an interactive wine-tasting event as well!

Ms. Boyle hopes to tour with the play following the Fringe Festival.

Ms Boyle grew up in Kildare town where the licensed trade is in her blood. Her family have been publicans for at least five generations.

She went to school in Newbridge College and followed it up with a BA in Drama and Theatre Studies from Trinity College Dublin, a stint as a University of California scholar, followed by an MA in Performance Studies from the University of London Royal Holloway.

She’s well known for her childrens’ art classes, summer camps and her annual Joy to the World exhibition at Christmas time.

She has also been attending professional wine tasting for almost 15 years, and generally loves wine and talking about it.

The show will take place on September 11, 12, 16, 17 and 18, starting at 6:30 pm, at 37 Dawson Street, Dublin 2

Previews will be on September 9 and 10 at 5pm and 6:30pm respectively, with an early evening show at 5pm on Sunday, September 15.

Tickets are available from at €14 with €12 concession and €10 for previews.

- Conor McHugh