“Dear Frankie, I am in love with a lovely farmer twice my age, my parents don’t approve…” Mention the two words; Dear Frankie to anyone aged 40 or over in this country and something predictable happens. They start to sing the signature tune to Frankie Byrne’s iconic radio show, The Women’s Page.
A new production from Five Lamps Theatre Company, Dear Frankie follows the true story of the eclectic life and times of Frankie Byrne, Ireland’s first on air agony aunt, which will come to the Royal Theatre, Castlebar, on Wednesday April 4. The show will start at 8pm and tickets cost €25.
Frankie Byrne was queen of the airwaves for more than 20 years on matters amorous. Solving everyone’s problems on her iconic Radio Éireann programme which was an institution from 1963 to 1985.
In an era without internet, without dedicated self-help book sections in the bookshops, where the librarian knew your mother so you could not borrow that book, information was pretty hard to come by. Luckily, there was Frankie Byrne.
She dispensed no-nonsense advice in her reassuringly gravelly tones like a woman who had seen it all. In some respects, she had. Beneath her good humour was a well of secrets, such as a 30-year affair and a love child, and in later life her bright passion was dulled by alcoholism. The various and authentic problems written to her and heard throughout the play offer a fascinating insight into the hang-ups, concerns, and sorrows of Ireland in the sixties and seventies.