Corofin grapples with sudden death

Deborah Kruel Rupy plays Mary in "The Caretaker of Corofin."

By Peter McDermott

It was late on New Year’s Eve, 1986, in Corofin, Co. Clare, on the edge of the Burren.

Deborah Kruel Rupy recalled this week that she’d wanted to call her parents, an ocean away on Long Island. “It was a tradition,” she said, explaining that it was her third Dec. 31 in Ireland.

The 21-year-old student was staying at the cluster of holiday cottages outside the town and was told that there was a coin-operated phone behind the caretaker’s residence. And so, she rather hesitantly knocked on his door. The caretaker grumpily told her that the phone was actually closer to her own cottage and pointed her in the right direction.

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That was that, until investigating gardaí told her the next morning that the caretaker had been taken from the lake. He was dead and she was likely the last person to have seen him alive.

Not long ago, Kruel Rupy told the disturbing tale to her friend Claude Solnik. They’d just finished the production of his “Lady from Limerick,” based on the true story of an Irishwoman who died in New York after undergoing plastic surgery. She played the lead. And now Solnik wanted to write a new play, but this would be about an American woman in Ireland, and the story would be based on her traumatic moment in Clare.

“I’m not a writer,” said Kruel Rupy, who studied acting at Dublin’s Abbey Theatre. “For me as a 21-year-old, it was dramatic enough. But Claude added twists and turns.”

The result is “The Caretaker of Corofin,” which will have eight performances beginning July 2, with Kruel Rupy in the role of Mary, the bar owner.

"The story is a portrait of a town and a certain time," said director Daniel Higgins. "After a man disappears, people have to explain what happened. They get to know each other and themselves."

“It’s been six months’ work,” Higgins added. “And we’re very happy with the product.”

“The Caretaker of Corofin,” will be performed at Theater for the New City, 155 First Ave., (between 9th-10th Streets), New York, N.Y. Thursday through Saturday, July 2-4 and July 9-11 at 8 p.m. and Sunday July 5 and 12 at 3 p.m. Tickets ($15, or $12 for seniors and students) are available at (212) 254-1109 and