Julie Lordan talks to Lesley Conroy about how Aoife is coping in Carrigstown
Aoife O’Neill has returned to Fair City, but as yet her motives are unknown. Considering she is a grieving mother who knows the identity of her daughter’s killer and is carrying a gun, how safe is Kerri-Ann? She is already facing prison for killing Aoife’s daughter, Karen, and will be separated from her baby daughter, not to mention husband Decco, so it’s possible that even Aoife will feel a little sympathy for her.
Does Lesley Conroy think Aoife feels any differently towards Kerri-Ann when she sees her with her own baby, Samantha? “Well it certainly complicated the issue! Aoife is flooded with memories of her own early relationship with Karen as a little girl. However, whenever Aoife looks at Kerri-Ann she reminds herself that she’s looking into the eyes of her daughter’s killer,” says Lesley. “Aoife knows Kerri-Ann has to pay for cutting Karen’s life short. Kerri-Ann will have visitation rights and will be reunited with her child when she finishes her sentence, but Aoife will never be able to spend time with Karen again.”
Aoife is not convinced that the legal system will make Kerri-Ann pay for what she did. “Aoife sees the legal system and justice as two different things. To balance the scales, she is driven to take matters in her own hands. She knows that Kerri-Ann will get a light sentence as it’s her first crime and she’s a new mother, but Aoife’s child was taken from her,” says Lesley.
“Look, Aoife adored Karen. She wanted the absolute best for her and supported her in whatever direction her life led. Karen was at the beginning of her adult life and her career in dance was going well. Then life became very complicated for them both. For a start, Aoife and Robbie rekindled their relationship, which ended his marriage to Carol.
“At this point, the cracks began to show in the mother-daughter relationship and Aoife wasn’t able to give Karen the emotional support she needed. As Karen began to spiral downwards, Aoife realised that her own choices were impacting on Karen and that she needed to take action, but it was too late.”
It sounds like
Aoife is dealing with guilt as well as grief.
Aoife succeeded in raising an independent young woman who was determined to make her own decisions,” said Lesley. “It was Karen’s decision to stay in Dublin. Aoife could see at this point that Karen needed more support but their relationship was so strained that Karen wasn’t open to this and was left in a very vulnerable position.”
So, why is Aoife back in Carrigstown now? According to Lesley, “Aoife felt ready to leave Carrigstown when she found out the identity of Karen’s killer. However, she’s never been able to put it behind her. I imagine Aoife is horrified by Kerri-Ann’s nerve to reach out to her. Knowing that her daughter’s killer is walking the streets until she goes to prison is affecting her and Aoife is frustrated at how slow the judicial system is moving. She arrives back to get close to Kerri-Ann and find an opportunity to even the score.”
In the immediate aftermath of Karen’s murder, Aoife suspected and even accused many people, but not Kerri-Ann. Was she shocked at the identity of the real culprit?
“It came as a real surprise! Aoife and Karen had very little interaction with Kerri-Ann during their time in Carrigstown. The only connection really was when Karen kissed Decco in the Station Bar the night she was killed. She was the most unlikely of suspects, which made the fall out all the more intriguing.”
Back to the present, and there is no doubt about Aoife’s intentions. She threatens Kerri-Ann and has a gun, but at least Decco and Carol are on to Aoife and her plans.
Lesley agrees. “They probably remember how hell-bent Aoife was on discovering the identity of Karen’s killer, so they are right to be concerned. Let’s not forget that Aoife comes from a background in security, so yes, they should be wary of her and what she may have planned.” However Aoife was dealing with her grief when she was away from Carrigstown, she is getting little comfort from being back at the scene of the crime, where life has a semblance of normality for those involved in her daughter’s death.
In particular, Aoife resents Kerri-Ann’s celebration of the birth of her own daughter Samantha. “Yeah, Aoife is disgusted at the pomp and ceremony of Samantha’s christening, how life is going on as normal, when Kerri-Ann should be riddled with guilt and keeping a low profile.”
Couldn’t taking out her anger and hate on Kerri-Ann backfire on Aoife? If anything was to happen to Kerri-Ann, it wouldn’t take Sherlock Holmes to work out that Aoife was involved. Lesley sees it differently: “Aoife has nothing to lose. She is in a very dangerous mindset when she returns to Carrigstown and is capable of doing anything. However, as she spends time there and people reach out to her, perhaps her fervour cools and she becomes more rational.”
As for Lesley herself, despite the grim storyline, she loves working on with the Fair City team. “It’s a lovely set-up with a friendly bunch of people. The actors are fantastic and hardworking. I’ve enjoyed being exposed to some great directing talent over the months and relish being part of such strong and exciting storylines,” she said. “I have nothing but admiration for soap actors, now that I know how fast the turnaround is and how hard they work.”
As well as Carrigstown, Lesley is busy with stage work and has just finished rehearsals for Marina Carr’s The Mai with Decadent Theatre Company, which goes on tour in September and October.
For now, viewers will be hoping that Aoife doesn’t wreak havoc on the streets of Carrigstown, but then again, that’s what makes Fair City so compelling!
Kerri Ann nds the gun in Aoife’s bag Aoife prepares to ditch the gun