Writer Roddy Doyle was listening to Morning Ireland one day when an interview caught his attention. A homeless woman was describing the process of trying to secure accommodation for her family every night. An idea was born, he told Marian Finucane.
"What really grabbed me was when she said that her partner couldn’t help because he was at work…We do have a kind of stereotypical image of what a homeless person looks like and behaves like and yet, this was just a working-class family doing what society almost dictates that they do and they didn’t have anywhere to live. I thought, well there’s a story."
Rosie, a film written by Doyle and directed by Paddy Breathnach, will be released on October 12th. It follows a homeless family in Dublin as they search for a place to stay for the night. Within minutes of hearing the radio interview, Roddy was working on a treatment, he told Marian. His own experience as a parent informed his writing.
"I fell back to a time where you’d be getting them into the car…a slight thing could knock you off course."
Watch the trailer for Rosie below:
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Roddy decided to make it a major thing, not a slight thing, that would affect this family’s day. The fact that they didn’t know where they were going to stay that night.
"This woman doesn’t know where she or her children or her partner are going to sleep that night and what she has to do is spend all day trying to find somewhere just to spend that night."
As part of the writing process, Roddy consulted with Focus Ireland for a bit more "precision".
"It’s the little things that we hope we can take for granted, you know. Waking up in the same place. Teaching your kids how to get to school from the same direction all the time, giving them independence. Being able to cook for them."
Marian was curious why Roddy was drawn to write this story in film-form. Why not write a book about it?
"I think a film would have much more emotional clout than a book and I could write it much quicker… So, although, it took 2 years to make the film, that was actually a very short time…More people would watch a film than read a book."
This certainly held true with his television series Family, which focused on a working-class family in Dublin and an abusive relationship.
"Half the adult population of the country watched that every night for 4 weeks in May of 1994."
The programme was not universally well-received, he remembers.
"I got death threats and hate mail…My mother was pushed by somebody, even, for giving birth to me 30-odd years before. But she was quite proud of that."
The criticism stemmed from some people’s opinion that he was undermining the institution of marriage or painting a working-class relationship in a negative way.
"All sorts of daft and less daft reasons… I’d lifted a stone that a lot of people didn’t want lifted."
Listen back to Roddy Doyle speaking on RTÉ Radio 1 above.