Runaway Princess, a hopeful story of heroin, hookup and happiness – Mary Goggin
I have received numerous awards at other festivals, but there are members of my family who refuse to see me play this “scandalous” show.
There are those who may agree with them, who think that certain things shouldn’t be said out loud, especially to paying audiences. Why do this when there are rugs to sweep them under, curtains to draw? Why, you may also be wondering, did I choose to do this? I wanted to know why a 13 year old girl ran away from home, injected heroin and became a prostitute.
In the beginning, there was Eddie Goggin. My dad, from Scarth, just outside Schull, West Cork. He traveled to Dublin to drive a truck.
Lilly Murphy, my mother, born in Mayo, was told by her father to leave Bangor Erris: there was nothing for her. She headed to London and graduated from King Edward Memorial Hospital on VJ Day. She’s a registered nurse. She had choices: Africa, Australia, America?
Dad’s sister, my precious Aunt Mary, sponsored him in the Bronx. Uncle Bill in Brooklyn did the same for my mother. Dad then drove a bus to New York.
He could neither read nor write. He is a man who, in true Homeric oral tradition, transmitted to me the poems and songs of his youth. A man of few words, the greatest of which was love. I never doubted that he loved me unconditionally.
Eddie Goggin spoke to me the loudest. He who had no voice other than his songs and poems, his favorite was Skibbereen (no wonder I have abandonment issues). He’s the only reason I survived to tell the story of the runaway princess.
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In my family, if there was a feeling in the room, kill it. Keep the secrets, hide the truth, bury any emotions that might let someone see inside your soul.
My mother was stoic, like all the great Irish matriarchs. His greatest gift to me was to send me to sustain my life, first to the nuns in Dublin, then other nuns in Cork and the Hotel California in Santa Monica. She physically kept me alive. She never left me.
The purpose of my story? All I ever wanted was to belong and feel loved. I really believe this story could have been completely different if a supportive adult had asked me, “Are you okay?”
Parents have been to my show; some came out. That’s great. It’s not easy to be the one who tells the truth. It feels lonely sometimes, being up there on stage telling stories that most people would try to erase from their history. Once I went out with a guy who had seen the show. He just assumed I was into S&M.
Coming from a different culture, I was unprepared for puberty in the 1960s. A shrink once told me that my adventures were a “massive reaction to sexual repression.” Heck, I grew up in a Catholic family in the 50s and 60s, did he really need to study for four years to tell me that?
When I was 12, all hell broke loose. Iran. I was accused of being pregnant by Sister Mary Bernard, the principal of my Catholic school. I wasn’t and refused to go back. I ran across the overpass, into the arms of local heroin addicts where I felt loved. I counted.
Then I ran to Greenwich Village and whatever was handed to me, I pulled it, sniffed it or drank it. Lily sent me to public schools, Catholic school, hairdressing school, modeling school. Then Ireland, Dublin. Did I go to the laundromats? Oh that’s right, I wasn’t pregnant! I don’t think they accepted the Yanks at the Madeleine laundries.
Then home for Christmas. Fillmore East, injecting meth, dropping acid, going back to another convent, the one I loved (Shakespeare, speech and French), until I got caught stealing from principal money. Bed sheets by the window, picked up by the Guard in Cork City.
The Sisters of Mercy sent the Crazy Yank back to the Bronx. Ran with a motorcycle gang, got pulled over, landed in “wife’s house of detention”, NYC. Next, stop a drug scheme in Santa Monica, California’s cult of all cults, Hotel California. I entered at 16, I left at 21. I didn’t get the hook, but you get the idea…
One of the things I love about being an artist is that when people ask me what I was doing before I started playing, I say “I was drunk”. There you go, no questions asked. I decided that instead of being at the mercy of the cast, I would write my own stuff.
I am instinctive; I am a healer. I always knew I needed to write my story. And you know what? It helped and the fact that I could be in the spotlight and tell the stories of my life is a testament to that. On the other side of addiction hell, sharing my secrets, I realized that when I did, I got better and stronger.
It’s not really about me; it gives others permission to share theirs and heal. People tell me I’m brave, that’s kind of who I am. And maybe I’m not a brave Purple Heart. It is an inner journey. When I was little, I wanted to be an archaeologist, in search of the truth. That’s what I do.
Plus, I didn’t want to be on my deathbed saying, “I wish I had.”
Oh, and Sister Mary Bridget, wherever you are. I’m sorry I robbed the Sisters of Mercy fund. Nothing personal. I loved Rosscarbery, especially your elocution course.
It’s really practical. Thanks.