Lizzy Sweeney is Gar’s aunt. She is a sister of his mother Maire, who died just after Gar was born. We meet Lizzy, her husband Con and their friend Ben Burton in another flashback scene. Gar is remembering when they visited the O’Donnell residence on a return trip to Donegal.
It is during a conversation in the kitchen that Gar agrees, seemingly spontaneously, to go to Philadelphia to stay with Con and Lizzy. Perhaps because she has had too much to drink, Lizzy becomes very emotional about the fact that she and Con were - despite spending “a fortune on doctors” - unable to have any children of their own.
We suspect Gar’s decision is influenced by the emotional effect of it being the wedding day of his lost love, Katie Doogan - reinforcing the fact that there is nothing left for him in Ballybeg. But Lizzy’s tipsy emotional state seems to contribute also.
Aunt Lizzy seems like a very tactile person. She monopolises the conversation. Uncle Con appears resigned to his wife’s behaviour and rarely disagrees with her.
Lizzy talks about Maire’s wedding to S.B., suggesting that Maire may not have been very happy with her decision. She also suggests that the O’Donnells were “kinda cold” in contrast to her and her sisters, the Gallagher girls. This too seems to awaken some kind of panic in Gar, as if he is anxious that if he stays he might turn out like his father.
The Sweeneys’ visit - coinciding with the day of Kate Doogan’s wedding - seems to be a catalyst for Gar’s decision to emigrate.