Dolly Considine runs a late-night drinking establishment catering to the needs of thirsty politicians and theatricals in Dublin’s legendary drinking area, the Catacombs. Julian Ryder (aka Paddy Butler) is an eighteen-year-old aspiring writer in need of shelter from his bullying older brother. As the new live-in lounge assistant at Dolly Considine’s Hotel, Julian soon embroils himself in the shebeen’s gossip – and the guests’ bedsheets – and turns Dolly’s entourage into fodder for his literary ambitions.
Reality quickly becomes difficult to separate from fantasy… Set against the run-up to the Pro-life Constitutional Amendment of September 1983 and moving fluidly between the 1950s of Dolly’s youth and Julian’s Summer of Unrequited Love, the hotel becomes a stage for farce and tragedy. Between Julian’s fictions, Dolly’s Secrets, and narrow party politics – and featuring a papier-mache figure of Mother Ireland giving birth and clashing sword-wielding dancers – this rich cocktail threatens to blow them, and even Ireland itself, wide apart.