THE remarkable true story of Martin McKenna, a Limerick boy who ran away from home and was adopted by a pack of stray dogs has been brought to the stage by Australian theatre company Slingsby, has toured the world, and now plays at Lime Tree Theatre this Saturday October 14 at 2.30pm and 6.30pm.
Martin McKenna grew up in Garryowen in the 1970’s, ran away from home at age 13 and lived rough with a pack of dogs for three years.
He published his memoir in 2014. It is a story of how six ordinary stray dogs saved his life and soul. Writing it reminded him how much he owed these dogs for, “bringing me true friendship when I needed it most.”
“I was severely hyperactive. So illiterate I couldn’t even read and write my own name properly and teachers bullied me for being unable to learn. I felt like a freak because I was one of identical triplets.”
“I’m from a large family of ten and my beloved mother was German, an amazing, lovely woman but our charming Irish father could drink for Ireland and often became violent.
“One night I decided I’d had enough of complicated humans. I climbed out my bedroom window, shimmied down the drainpipe and started running down the road, heading to where the stray dogs of Garryowen hung out.”
“There were six dogs who became part of my pack but others drifted in and out. I slept in farmer’s barns at night with the dogs to keep warm and dry.
“They became my best friends, family and even my teachers – showing me during the three years I lived rough with them the incredible ways of the dog world.”
A few years later Martin joined the exodus of young Irish people looking for work and ended up travelling around the world. He made Nimbin in northern NSW, Australia his home, is married and has four kids and a pack of six rescue strays.
Martin now uses the skills he learnt living rough with his pack of stray dogs as a published author and dog whisperer.
“This story might sound a little sad to strangers, I guess, but I’m actually a pretty happy, positive man. I really loved the freedom and adventures I shared with my pack of stray dogs back in my teenage years.”
Liam McCarthy is the curator of the Bualadh Bos Children’s Festival which has brought the play to Limerick.
Talking to Limerick Post, Liam described Slingsby as “one of the best companies making work for young people.”
“It’s a big scale show and the team in Belltable went out on a limb to get this show. We HAD to do this show in Limerick. It is set in Limerick.”
A company of nine perform the show with a live band providing the music. It is an immersive experience, the stage is in the round.
“It’s unbelievable, there’s lots of music and but it is dark.”
The Boy Who Talked To Dogs is recommended for older children.
Chris O’Rourke writing for The Arts Review attended a performance of The Boy who Talked To Dogs at the Dublin Theatre Festival giving it a four star review this week.
He called the play a, “remarkably affecting and brilliantly executed piece of theatre,”
Bryan Burroughs in the role of Martin McKenna was unforgettable according to the reviewer. “His physical articulations as Martin woven into a mesmerising tapestry that leaves your jaw hanging in awe.”
The Boy Who Talked To Dogs plays at Lime Tree Theatre this Saturday October 14 at 2.30pm and 6.30pm.