“The Girls of Ennismore” depicts the intertwining lives of a family of Anglo-Irish gentry and their servants at a time in Irish History where the aristocracy are under threat both from growing economic hardship and incipient nationalist rebellion. It juxtaposes the gentry’s sense of entitlement against the servants’ not so guarded resentment of their employers whose ownership of Irish lands was achieved by conquest. The contrast of the natural wit, passion and mercurial charm of the native Irish with the formal, restrained behaviors of the gentry, makes for a natural conflict that offers both drama and humor.
Set at a Manor House called “Ennismore” in the West of Ireland between 1900 and 1918, the story focuses on the unlikely friendship of two girls from different backgrounds, and how their relationship eventually triumphs over the barriers of class distinction and prejudice.
The fateful first meeting of Rosie Killeen, a tenant farmer’s daughter, and Victoria Bell, daughter of an aristocratic Anglo-Irish family, occurs when they are eight years old. As a consequence, Rosie is uprooted from her simple, country existence and thrust into Victoria’s world of wealth and privilege. Rosie struggles to find her footing as she straddles both worlds while belonging in neither of them. When they turn eighteen, Rosie’s worst fears are realized when Victoria goes off to Dublin for the “Season” and Rosie is turned out of Ennismore and sent back to the humble life from which she came.
“The Girls of Ennismore” offers a compelling new spin on such timeless themes as the uniqueness of women’s friendships, the eternal pull of “home,” and the challenges of forbidden love in a time of turmoil. It is reminiscent of such iconic works as “Gone with the Wind,” “Dr. Zhivago,” and more recently, “Downton Abbey.”