‘The Cleggan Project’: John McGahern’s Unproduced Screenplay

So I’ve been deep in the John McGahern archives here at NUI Galway of late preparing some preliminary offerings from my project to contextualize John McGahern’s screenwriting efforts (mostly unproduced) within his larger body of work. While I intend this to be a reasonably lengthy article when it’s complete, I’ll be delivering a paper this weekend on one McGahern script in particular – an untitled screenplay set around Cleggan Co. Galway –  at the 10th annual North East Irish Culture Network (NEICN) conference at the University of Sunderland.

Though never produced, the Cleggan film is of a piece with McGahern’s sustained investigation of Irish community living and the transformative challenges it faced in the second half of the Twentieth Century: ‘Again it is about family,’ he writes in notes describing his protagonist, the widowed schoolmaster James Lacey (‘56 years of age, handsome, athletic – a golfer and sailor – intelligent, uncomplicated’) and the small village existence he has lived all his life.

Through reference to Lacey and his supporting characters, the film’s narrative style, and its isolated rural setting, this paper is going to look at how the Cleggan project fits within McGahern’s established oeuvre. Specifically I’ll be examining the extent to which a thematic dialogue exists between the draft screenplay and McGahern’s 1990 novel Amongst Women.

The panel that I’m part of, which also offers presentations on playwright Gary Mitchell and short story writer Claire Keegan, begins at 3:15 pm next Saturday, November 10th, at Sunderland’s Priestman Building (Room 103).

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2 Responses to ‘The Cleggan Project’: John McGahern’s Unproduced Screenplay

  1. Oh, I’d look forward to a film set in Cleggan, written by the wonderful John McGahern!

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