'Too Old by Right': Lost Lives in Teresa Deevy's Wife to James Whelan

Activity: Talk or presentationInvited talk


‘Too old I am – older than I should be by right’ grumbles Kate in Teresa Deevy’s Wife to James Whelan, a play concerned with the lack of opportunities available to Irish women in the mid-1900s. Written in 1940, when the Catholic Church and Irish state had unequivocally dictated that women’s place was within the home and her role was that of mother, Wife to James Whelan depicts the struggle of two young women within a society that seeks to circumscribe the phases of their lives.

Delivered as part of a lecture series entitled 'Portraits of the Artist as Young Women in Irish Theatre History' and presented in the week of International Women’s Day, Dr Kealy reflected on Teresa Deevy’s suggestion in her play Wife to James Whelan that while degrees of freedom and autonomy were possible for women in 1930s Ireland such independence extracted a high personal price.
Period12 Mar 2019
Event titlePortraits of the Artist as Young Women: Irish Theatre History Lecture Series
Event typeSeminar
LocationWexford, IrelandShow on map
Degree of RecognitionRegional


  • Teresa Deevy
  • Wife to James Whelan
  • Irish Theater
  • Irish Theatre
  • Irish History
  • Irish playwrights
  • Feminism