The Scourge - Struggles families encounter with Alzheimer’s

By Hayden Moore

The Scourge was a nickname given to Michelle Dooley Mahon for being a bit of a handful when she was a child, and now the play detailing her visits to see her Alzheimer’s disease-battling mother in a nursing home is coming to The Civic.

After introducing herself over the phone as “a small elderly woman with wild hair, a cardigan and a few hairs on her chin” that has lived all over the world, “been with every type of man you could imagine, and experienced pretty much everything” – I couldn’t have prepared myself for the wild ride I was about to be brought on.

Michelle Dooley Mahon in The Scourge 1

Michelle Dooley Mahonin the Scourge 

54-year-old Michelle, who hails from Wexford, published ‘Scourged: A Memoir’ in 2016 and after a producer read the book in one sitting it was commissioned to be adapted into a play.

“It was difficult [writing it] but the truth is I had been saying goodbye to my mother every day for many years. I had pretty much said goodbye to every single part of her by the time she died,” said Michelle.

“I was nicknamed the Scourge because I was a divil as a child and I was considered too manic – today I’d probably be diagnosed with ADHD – and when my mother was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s I had been writing incrementally about her life, death and the aftermath on Facebook.

“I set up a Facebook page to write about her story and it ended up becoming a thing where I got to look at and examine my own mental health a lot.

“I’m at a stage in my life where finally, I am being myself. When people look at me or listen to me, they get the truth, I’m myself and there’s no bull**** anymore because instead of me just pretending things are okay when they’re not, I’ll say it.”

Michelle set up a GoFundMe page online to help fund the memoir after the stories detailing the relationship with her mother, Siobhán Dooley Mahon received a massive response online.

“I wrote every draft, subbed everything, re-wrote it, designed the book and everything in six months.

“Eoin Colfer asked me once how many words I can write in a day, I said 10k and his response was ‘Jesus Christ’ – so I am a quick writer.”

When asked about what audiences can expect from the one woman showing, starring herself she said: “the thing about this story is only a scourge could write it.

“Only a scourge could perform it – men do be balling in the aisle during the show, but its a not a sad story either, its funny too.”

Through her hilarious and moving memories, Michelle is set to bring audiences on a roller-coaster of emotion through 80 minutes as she shines a light on an illness that so rarely gets such a spotlight.

‘The Scourge’ runs from January 3 to 5 at 8.15pm each night, with tickets €14 with concessions or €16 from civictheatre.ie or The Civic’s Box Office.

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