In 1909, shortly after Aylesh's birth, Margaret became pregnant while unmarried. She refused to tell her family who the father was and they arranged for her to see their priest. He recommended that Margaret be sent to a Magdalene Asylum. Margaret stole money from their mother and used it to buy passage to America. ("Peg of Old")
After their mother's death, the eldest sibling, Eamonn, brought his remaining sisters (Nuala, Bethany and Aylesh) to America. They arrived in 1917. The family lives in an apartment in Brooklyn, New York City. Eamonn found work on a night crew digging subway tunnels. Nuala and Bethany also have manual jobs and Aylesh is still in school. ("A Dangerous Maid", "Peg of Old")
Aylesh is always reading novels and likes to think of herself as American. She is also the only one of her siblings to have lost completely her native Irish accent, likely due to being the only one that has been educated in the American school system. ("Peg of Old")
Margaret visits Brooklyn, New York to see her estranged family. Their street is bustling with immigrant traders and their customers. She finds their apartment, removes her hat and knocks on the door. Aylesh answers the door and gives a traditional Gaelic greeting. Margaret does not understand and Aylesh is disappointed. Another Rohan sister comes to the door and offers that Aylesh had practiced all day. Margaret correctly guesses that the older girl is Beth Rohan and surmises that the younger is Aylesh. Aylesh asks Margaret not to call her that and suggests Juliet when Margaret asks what she would prefer. A third sister, Nuala, enters as Beth goes to fetch Eamonn, their elder brother. Margaret asks Nuala if she recognises her and Nuala says that she does. Eamonn comes in and greets Margaret, calling her Peg. Margaret thanks Eamonn for replying to her letter and Nuala pointedly says that they could not abandon her, looking at Eamonn. Eamonn tells Aylesh to let Margaret in; Aylesh stands aside from the door and then closes it after Margaret walks through. Margaret presents Eamonn with a gift of taffy from the Atlantic City Boardwalk. He remarks that he can get the same in Louanna Park; Nuala gives him a disapproving glare, prompting Eamonn to tell Margaret that he is sure the taffy is grand and thanks her. Margaret smiles at her sisters. After a moment Eamonn suggests a hug and they do, awkwardly. Eamonn says they have prepared a roast dinner with potatoes and asks the girls to take Margaret’s hat and make her feel at ease before going through to the dining room. Aylesh examines the intricate embroidery of the hat and Margaret points out a bee in a rose. The girls go through and Nuala tells Margaret that Aylesh takes after Margaret in terms of their boundless energy.Margaret eats dinner with her siblings. Aylesh asks if Margaret came on a boat, calling her Miss. Beth tells Aylesh that Margaret is not a Miss and Nuala says that Margaret is their “Peg of old, just.” Margaret says that she came on the train and explains that she lives in Atlantic City, not Ireland. Aylesh asks what Margaret does and Margaret says she is raising her children, Theodore and Emily. Nuala asks their ages and notes that they have American names; Margaret jokingly says her children are patriots. Eamonn asks about the father of the children and Margaret explains that her husband Hans died a year ago. Nuala is shocked that Margaret is widowed so young and says she could cry. Margaret says that Nuala has a good heart. Eamonn asks how Margaret makes a living explaining that he wonders how she can afford to take a trip to New York without her children. Margaret explains that she employs a nanny and Eamonn calls this a luxury. Beth asks why Margaret should not have luxuries if she can afford them and Eamonn has no reason. He checks his watch and Nuala chides him and explains that he works night shifts. He offers that he is digging the fourth avenue line Aylesh explains that he means for the New York City subway. Eamonn explains that Nuala is a seamstress and that Beth works in a launderette while Aylesh is still in school. He suggests that Aylesh might be working too if it were not for the threat of a truancy officer. Margaret tells Eamonn that she knows that he works hard and offers help. Eamonn says they have not asked for any. Nuala announces that Beth has made a trifle for dessert.
Before serving the promised trifle Eamonn asks for some time alone with Margaret. Nuala takes the girls to see their neighbour Mrs Gillebrand. Aylesh complains and Nuala tells her it is the Christian thing to do. Eamonn offers Margaret a cigarette, calling it a fag. Margaret declines and says that she is not as American as Eamonn thought. Eamonn tells Margaret that their mother is dead, assuming that it will be news to Margaret. Margaret reveals that she knows their mother died from her correspondence with their cousin Martin Hennessy. Eamonn is bitter that she stayed in touch with Hennessy but responds to Margaret mentioning the graveyard where the mother is buried by saying she is beside their father and the two are finally not arguing. Eamonn recalls their mother asking to see Margaret in her deathbed and how he lied to her saying that Margaret was on her way back. Margaret is visibly hurt by Eamonn’s memory and he asks her if she is going to cry now that it doesn’t matter. She whispers that she did what she had to and then repeats it more forcefully when Eamonn does not hear. Eamonn says that is the justification everyone uses in their mind and Margaret asks if he would rather she was sent to a Magdalene Asylum. Eamonn confirms that he agreed with the punishment their priest chose and asks why Margaret considers that fate suitable for others but not herself. She angrily asserts that it is not right for anyone and asks if he would wish it on her sisters. She asks if she is the only sinner he has met. Eamonn asks who the father of Margaret’s baby was. She admits that it was Douglas Walton, the son of the Barrister who employed her. She believes Eamonn must have already known but he pleads blindness in such matters. He asks if Walton forced himself on her and she denies it. Eamonn realises that with Teddy being seven he must have been conceived after Margaret reached America and wonders what happened to the baby that caused her to flee. She explains that she had a miscarriage during the voyage. He offers condolences. She gives him cash saying that it is to return what she stole. Eamonn claims that she stole from their mother not him and she responds that the money she took should have paid for his passage to America. He asks if guilt over the theft is the reason she has come to visit and Margaret denies this saying she wanted to be among those who know her. Aylesh returns and Eamonn quickly hides the cash. He wonders why she was so quick and she explains that Mrs Gillebrand wants her to go out to buy pig trotters. Aylesh wants to have dessert before running the errand.
Eamonn shuts the bedroom door on Margaret as she clears the table with her sisters. Nuala offers to walk Margaret to the guest house where she is staying. Margaret explains that she has hired a car for the trip. Nuala worries at the cost and Beth guesses that Margaret is seeing a man who will pay for it. Nuala chides Beth and Beth asks Margaret what her man is like. Aylesh guesses that he is mysterious and powerful with minions at his disposal. Nuala does not know the meaning of minions and Aylesh explains. Margaret is initially shocked at Ayesha’s accuracy but plays along. Aylesh says that the man has a secret tragedy and will not let anyone get close to him and Margaret wonders where she is getting her story from. Beth and Nuala explain that Aylesh is always reading. Margaret offers to send Aylesh a book and Nuala says they will need Eamonn’s permission. At the door, Beth asks Margaret to think of them and Margaret reminds them that Atlantic City is not far. Nuala marvels at seeing Margaret again after so long and hugs her goodbye. As Margaret descends the stairs Aylesh comes out to tell her she was joking about her man. Aylesh wonders at Margaret being both a stranger and her sister and Margaret introduces herself with her maiden name. The sisters shake hands then Eamonn comes out and orders Aylesh to bed. Aylesh asks Margaret to send books and says she likes any story with a horse in it.Margaret has her driver bring her back to her sibling’s address where she finds Aylesh playing in the street. She gives her a book as a present; “The Girl, a Horse and a Dog” by Francis Lynde. Margaret checks that Aylesh has not read it before and asks Aylesh to tell her about it once finished. Aylesh asks how and Margaret suggests they write to one another, Aylesh is pleased with the notion of a secret correspondence. Margaret calls this “good crack” and Aylesh does not understand the colloquialism. Margaret explains that their mother used it often to mean fun and Aylesh, too young to remember, asks what their mother was like. Aylesh worries that the horse will die in the story and Margaret assures her that it does not. Margaret invites Aylesh to visit her in Atlantic City in the summer so that Aylesh can meet the children. Aylesh notes that it is strange to be such a young aunt. Eamonn arrives, on his way home from work. He sends Aylesh inside to read her new book. ("Peg of Old")
- Eamonn Rohan - Brother
- Margaret Schroeder - Sister
- Nuala Rohan - Sister
- Bethany Rohan - Sister
- Hans Schroeder - Brother in law, deceased
- Teddy Schroeder - Nephew
- Emily Schroeder - Niece
- Nucky Thompson - Brother in law (deceased)
- Martin Hennessy - Cousin
- "Sláinte chuig na fír, agus go mairfidh na mna go deo." (Gaelic for "Health to the men, and may the women live forever")
- "Send me books. I like anything with a horse in it."
- "I'm an aunt, huh?"
|Season two appearances|
|21||Ourselves Alone||A Dangerous Maid||What Does the Bee Do?|
|Gimcrack & Bunkum||The Age of Reason||Peg of Old||Two Boats and a Lifeguard|
|Battle of the Century||Georgia Peaches||Under God's Power She Flourishes||To the Lost|