Share This:
February 6, 2017 | Theatre,

Beauty Queen of Leenane Glossary

As a part of the preparation for the Play Reading Book Club, the teaching artists provided this very helpful glossary to unpack potentially unfamiliar terms used in the play. Enjoy!


An Irish children’s television programme produced during the late 1970s and 1980s. It was produced by the Lambert Puppet Theatre. Designed by Jan Mitchell, Bosco was voiced by Jonathan Ryan initially, in the pilot series that was broadcast, with four presenters per show, in 1978. When the show went into full-time production in 1980, with two presenters per show, Miriam Lambert took over. In later years Paula Lambert took over. A shared cultural experience for children in Ireland at the time, it ran for 386 episodes, ending production in 1987.

Celidh time
Popular irish gatherings featuring Gaelic music. McDonagh actually uses the Scottish Gaelic spelling of the word in the script.
Mag: “Only for Ceelidh time and for whatyoucall.”

The Chieftains
A traditional Irish band formed in Dublin in November 1962, by Paddy Moloney, Sean Potts and Michael Tubridy. The band had their first rehearsals at Moloney’s house, with Tubridy, Martin Fay and David Fallon. Their sound, which is almost entirely instrumental and largely built around uilleann pipes, has become synonymous with traditional Irish music and they are regarded as having helped popularise Irish music across the world.
Stage Directions: Ray slams the door behind him as he exits. Pause. Maureen starts rocking slightly in the chair, listening to the song by The Chieftains on the radio. The announcer’s quiet soothing voice is then heard.

Complan is a drink for people who are lacking essential nutrients from their daily diets. This is generally used by the elderly but also marketed towards children. Complan is
hugely popular in India.

A Country Practice
An Australian television drama series. One of the longest-running of its kind, produced by James Davern of JNP Productions, it ran on the Seven Network for 1,058 episodes from 18 November 1981 to 22 November 1993. It was produced in ATN-7’s production facility at Epping, Sydney. It also ran from April to November 1994 for 30 episodes on Network Ten. The Channel Seven series was also filmed on location in Pitt Town (outskirts of Northwest Sydney), while, the Channel Ten series was filmed on location in Emerald, Victoria.

A dedication is a request of a radio station to play a particular song on behalf of a particular person. At the start of the play, Mag and Maureen are waiting to hear a song, dedicated to Mag by her two daughters who are no longer living in Leenane.
Mag: “The dedication Annett and Margo sent we still haven’t heard. I wonder what’s keeping it?”
Maureen: “If  they sent a dedication at all. They only said they did.”

Crazy or at least very eccentric or like in our case completely deranged! Usage: “The Dingle duo are seriously concerned that Jasmine’s about to go doolally”
Pato: ” What harm a breakdown, sure? Lots of people do have breakdowns.”
Maureen: ” A lot of doolally people, aye.”

Difford Hall
Difford Hall is the name of a fictional hospital for the treatment of mental illness.
The foreman of a gang of navvies which are unskilled construction workers.
Pato: ” There is no one to speak to. The gangerman does pop his head in sometime….”

Kimberley Biscuits
Kimberley the legendary biscuit of the Emerald Isle is baked by
Jacob’s and holds high importance to Irish culture by the affection in which it is held.

Derogatory term of address for an Irishman.


Ray: “Well, I’m not wading through the skitter just to tell her. I’ve done enough wading. Coming up that oul hill.”

A Female domestic servant.

Sons and Daughters
A Logie Award winning Australian soap opera created by Reg Watson and produced by the Reg Grundy Organization between 1981 and 1987.

Spike Milligan
According to Wiki, Spike Milligan (1918-2002) was “an Irish comedian, writer, musician, poet and playwright.” The article also says that he suffered from bipolar disorder, and had “at least ten major mental breakdowns” during his lifetime.
Pato: ” Poor Spike Milligan, isn’t he forever having breakdowns?”

Spinning Wheel
This hit ballad was recorded in 1939 by Irish singer songwriter Delia Murphy, the Queen of Connemara.

Arrangement of steps that allows for passage of humans but not animals (a cross between a ladder and small staircase).

The Sullivans
The Sullivans is an Australian drama television series produced by Crawford Productions which ran on the Nine Network from 1976 until 1983. The series told the story of an average middle-class Melbourne family and the effect World War II had on their lives. It was a consistent ratings success in Australia, and also became popular in the United Kingdom, Ireland, Netherlands, Gibraltar and New Zealand.

According to Wiki, a game somewhat like tetherball, but played using rackets and a tethered tennis ball. The full description: “An alternate version of the game sold as Swingball uses a smaller, softer ball that the players strike with racquets. It can be described as ‘tether tennis,’ and is more popular in the United Kingdom. Swingball has a
shorter pole, is portable and the ball flies around the pole at a constant distance from the pole on a helical screw; the game ends when the ball reaches the top or bottom of the screw. Generally the ball used for these games is a tennis ball, and the racquets can come from ping-pong or games with similar paddles.”
Ray: ” Loopy that woman is if you ask me.  Didn’t she keep the tennis ball that came off of me and Mairton Hanlon’s swingball set and landed in yere fields and wouldn’t give it back no matter how much we begged…”

(According to urban dictionary) Commonly used to define members of the Irish traveling community. The previous definition cites the use of ‘tinker’ in this context as ignorant. Maybe he/she is a tinker (in the metalwork sense of the word) and does not like his traditional profession to be used in such a manner.
Maureen: ” You suppose right enough. Lying the head off you, like the babby of a tinker.”

Peat or “turf” is an organic fuel formed by the accumulation and partial decomposition of vegetable matter in areas where the climate is wet and mild, and the drainage is poor. Peat deposition is the first step in the formation of coal. If the climate was drier the peat would decompose further. As it is, the moisture in the ground does not allow the vegetable matter to completely decompose. Peatland or bogland covers about 15% of Ireland. There are large expanses of “blanket” bog in County Mayo. Peat in its natural state is 90 to 95 per cent water. In the summer time “turf” is cut into blocks with a spade and set in stacks to dry. When dry, the blocks weigh from three quarters of a pound to two pounds each. Dried peat burns easily with a smoky flame and a very distinct (and pleasant) odor. Peat was the source of heating and cooking in Ireland for centuries. It is still used in some areas of Ireland for heating.
Mag: (Pause) ” Or another bit of turf on the fire put. I’m cold.”

A more thorough Gaelic slang dictionary can be found here.

Selected References and Vocab

All definitions are direct quotations taken from:–music-references.html

This whole webpage below is a great source for contextual info on Beauty Queen:

As special thanks to Katherine Goldman and Nicholas Malakhow from the Play Reading Book Club for finding these resources!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *