The Return – A Reading Of A New Screenplay

A heartfelt portrait of the fallen Irish, who came over to work and live on British shores.

Written by Alex McDonnell and Kieran Conlon

Directed By Rosalind Scanlon

In the “The Return”, after years of suffering from alcoholism and the hardships of homelessness on the London streets, a group of Irishmen are brought ‘Home’ to Ireland for a holiday. 

Written by two Irish community care-workers and based on the true stories of some of the men who lived in the hostel, Arlington House, ‘The Return’ is a hard-hitting, emotional and inspirational screenplay, which gives a heartfelt portrait of the fallen Irish, who came over to work and live on British shores.  

The Script-Reading of “The Return” will be followed by a Q & A with the Writers, Alex McDonnell and Kieran Conlon. 

Wed 28 September 2022

Doors: 7.00pm; Starts: 7.30pm


About The Writers Alex McDonnell and Kieran Conlon

Alex McDonnell has been an Irish community worker since 1984 when he joined the GLC as part of their Ethnic Minorities Unit. Ten years later he began working at Arlington House, the largest homeless hostel in Europe where over 60% of the residents were Irish. Many were suffering from the hardships of the street, alcoholism and loneliness. What they found in Arlington was a community with other Irish men. Along with John Glynn and Deirdre Robinson who were community workers at the London Irish Centre, he began the Aisling Return to Ireland Project to help give these men and many hundreds like them a chance to return home in a self supporting rehabilitative weeks holiday. The initiative had immediate positive effect and has been running ever since.

Kieran Conlon, from Sligo also worked in Arlington in the 1990’s and was present on many of the early Aisling trips. He became the manager of the Spectrum Day Centre, which was a haven for the street homeless of Camden. He now lives in Huddersfield and works as a care worker and an actor assisting student doctors through their training.

Alex and Kieran have been reminiscing for years about the extraordinary experiences they have both had with Aisling Project over many years. Believing that the stories needed to be told, but that it was far too difficult and private to expose vulnerable returning emigrants to a documentary lens, they began writing the stories, which eventually became ‘The Return’.

Patrick Kavanagh who lived in Arlington House in the 1920’s wrote in his book The Green Fool: ‘The soft voices of the west of Ireland fell like gentle rain on the arid patches of my imagination’.