In 1909 Margaret - then aged 16 - 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 asked 18-year old Eamonn to help her avoid this, claiming that she had been forced, but he did nothing. Margaret then stole money intended to pay for Eamonn's passage to America and used it to migrate herself. ("Peg of Old")
Following their mother's death, Eamonn brought his remaining sisters (Nuala, Bethany and Aylesh) to America in 1917. The family live 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 while Aylesh is still in school. ("A Dangerous Maid", "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. Her youngest sister Aylesh Rohan 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 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 in order to confort 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 prefer that 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 other 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 Aylesh’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. Eamonn comes out then and orders Aylesh to bed. Aylesh asks Margaret to send books and says she likes any story with a horse in it.
The following morning Eamonn finds Margaret talking to Aylesh outside their building on his way home from work. He sends Aylesh inside to read the book Margaret has given her. Margaret asks about Eamonn’s shift and he ignores the question saying that he thought she had left. Margaret reminds him that Aylesh is her sister too. He asks if Margaret is trying to rescue Aylesh to assuage her guilt. Margaret asks if Eamonn has to hate her and he claims that he feels little about her at all. He gives back her money saying that he does not know where it is from. Margaret asks if Eamonn is honest and he says he never asks for trouble. She lists things he will not do including talking back to authority figures ("the boss, the priest, the policeman"), asking questions, making a fuss and standing up for her when she asked him and had nowhere else to turn. He says she always does what she wants and that money will not change that. Margaret believes she can make Aylesh’s life better and Eamonn asks her if she has improved her own life. He tells her to go home and leave them in peace. He ends by telling her there is no-one there who knows her. Margaret gets into her car, crying. ("Peg of Old")
- Margaret Schroeder - Estranged sister
- Nuala Rohan - Sister
- Bethany Rohan - Sister
- Aylesh Rohan - Sister
- Hans Schroeder - Brother in law, deceased
- Teddy Schroeder - Nephew
- Emily Schroeder - Niece
- Nucky Thompson - Brother in law
- Martin Hennesy - Cousin
- "You did what you wanted, Peg. You always have. Nothing you bring and nothing you buy will change that...You'll go back now, back to your own place. And leave us be. There's no one here who knows you." ("Peg of Old")
|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|