About Isobel Mahon
I am a writer, actor and psychotherapist, living in Dublin, Ireland with a penchant for meditations on life in the form of short early morning pieces on RTÉ radio.
My first professional job following a BA in philosophy and English in Trinity College was playing a cat at the children’s Christmas play at the Peacock Theatre in 1981 (in fairness, most of the cast were cats). This was followed by a comedy at the Gate theatre, Semi Private by Mary Halpin, which involved inflicting a nude scene on the Dublin public. The show proved a hit and I won ‘Best Newcomer to the Irish Theatre’, but as a friend pointed out, I wasn’t exactly using the philosophy degree.
A couple of years later following a nail-biting stretch as a freelance actor, to my mother’s huge relief, I was cast in the long-running series Glenroe for RTÉ as the barmaid, Michelle. I remained in that wonderful family atmosphere for sixteen years.
During this time, I trained as an integrative psychotherapist at the Tivoli Institute, Dun Laoghaire, recognizing that in a woman’s life, flexibility is key. Sure enough, not long after the last episode of Glenroe was aired and just after my 40th birthday, my first two radio plays were produced on RTÉ and my daughter Jessica arrived. Born at 27 weeks gestation and terrifyingly fragile, she showed a grit and strength that sustains her still. One of the radio play was developed into a stage play “So Long Sleeping Beauty” which was produced in Ireland, The UK for BBC Radio 4, and the theatre of Chester Massachusetts.
I moved from being a childless actor and therapist to an adoring but unemployed and porridge-spattered mammy virtually overnight and that shift really gives you a new perspective on life. During that time I drew a lot of strength from my Buddhist practice.
Sometime later I’d had the great good fortune (thank you, Kevin McHugh) to work as a scriptwriter on Fair City for RTÉ for a number of years and also wrote plays for theatre, RTÉ and BBC radio, e.g. The Rules which won best actress for Gina Costigan at the Strawberry One Act festival in New York. Also Boom? which toured Ireland and ran at the Gaiety Theatre Dublin, and simultaneously as Party Face at the City Centre, Off-Broadway in New York for fourteen weeks with Hayley Mills (thank you Jan Warner and Maria McDermottroe).
If I know one thing for sure, it’s that the big things in life are not always contained in a resumé. Most of them happen between the lines. Most of my life has happened between the lines, in family, friendships, spirituality and pets. That, and the odd glass of Rioja! ‘Learning to Fly’ is my first novel. I hope you enjoy it.