Siobhán McKenna in her one woman play 'The Branchy Tree' devised for television.

'The Branchy Tree' was adapted from Siobhán McKenna's one-woman stage show 'Here Be Ladies', which ran in Oxford, London and Belfast.

In the opening sequence, Siobhán McKenna recites a poem by James Stephens.

A woman is a branchy tree and man a singing wind,
And from her branches carelessly he takes what he can find.

Describing the poem’s author, Siobhán McKenna says that James Stephens looks like he might be a descendant of a leprechaun. James Stephens was born in a Dublin slum and when asked how he came to write poetry he responded,

A poem grabbed me by the back of the neck and said get down and write me and you do me well or I’ll knock your block off.

She goes on to describe how James Stephens wandered the Irish countryside talking to the people. He also enjoyed dabbling in philosophy and was particularly interested in the age old battle of the sexes.

Siobhán McKenna recounts a James Stephens story about an encounter between a fat and a thin woman. 

Siobhan McKenna in 'The Branchy Tree' on 'Anthology' (1971)
Siobhan McKenna in 'The Branchy Tree' on 'Anthology' (1971)

Siobhan McKenna in 'The Branchy Tree' on 'Anthology' (1971)
Siobhan McKenna in 'The Branchy Tree' on 'Anthology' (1971)

Chloe Gibson, Head of Drama at RTÉ and producer of 'The Branchy Tree' writing in the RTÉ Guide about adapting the show for television said,

In Coolpark, County Clare, there is a tree on which the initials of the poets and writers that took their inspiration of the poets and writers that took their inspiration from the Revival Movement, started by Yeats and Lady Gregory, are carved. Starting with a poem of James Stephens, 'The Branchy Tree', we used this as a theme and the programme is drawn from the authors and poets whose initials are scratched there.
(RTÉ Guide, January 1971)

Set design was by Lona Moran featuring abstract shapes and a tree. Barry Kelly controlled the one camera used with Bill Fogarty on sound and Maurice Byrne on lighting. Music was provided by Seán Ó Riada.

'The Branchy Tree' was broadcast by RTE Television as part of the 'Anthology' arts documentary series on 27 January 1971.