Synge: A Celebration

by Colm Toibin (Volume editor)
©2005 Edited Collection XVIII, 164 Pages
Series: Carysfort Press Ltd., Volume 231


Last year when Garry Hynes asked me to edit a book on Synge, I realised that a great seachange had taken place in relation to his work. Once, he would have been viewed by many readers and writers as an old-fashioned figure whose influence was harmful, whose stage-Irishness was not to be taken seriously. Now, he has become a fascinating and ambiguous genius, whose language is rich with wit and nuance and unpredictability. He worked, as Yeats said, with a living speech, and the way he worked, his ingenuity, his style, has come to mean a lot to contemporary writers. The gap between his own shyness, his quietness and the noise his characters make is a great example of the gap between the being who suffers and the mind which creates. Although he was mild-mannered, he had no respect for current pieties, and he made this part of the fierce and uncompromising energy of his plays. Also, his book on the Aran Islands, so careful, watchful, respectful, is understood by all of us to be a masterpiece. Thus it was not hard to approach writers to contribute a piece on Synge, to help produce a book as varied and unpredictable as Synge's own work. The brief was open — use any form, any length, to pay homage to Synge, or argue with him, or conjure up the writer who has become our contemporary. It meant a lot that we were doing this for the Druid Synge Season — when all six major plays will be presented in repertory for the first time — because the Druid Synge productions over the past quarter century have, more than anything else, been responsible for our fresh understanding of Synge's genius.

Table Of Contents

  • Cover
  • Frontispiece
  • Title Page
  • Copyright
  • Contents
  • Acknowledgements
  • The Authors
  • List of Illustrations
  • 1 | New Ways to Kill Your Mother
  • 2 | A Gallous Story and a Dirty Deed: Druid’s Synge
  • 3 | Shift
  • 4 | A Glass of Champagne
  • 5 | A White Horse on the Street
  • 6 | Driving Mrs Synge
  • 7 | Riders to the Sea
  • 8 | Apart from Anthropology
  • 9 | Bad at History
  • 10 | Collaborators
  • 11 | Wild and Perfect: TeachingThe Playboy of the Western World
  • When the Moon Has Set


Sebastian Barry was born in Dublin and educated at Trinity College Dublin. He has been Writer Fellow, Trinity College Dublin, during 1995-1996, and has won numerous awards. His novels include Macker’s Garden (1982), Time Out of Mind (1983), The Engine of Owl-light (1987), The Whereabouts of Eneas McNulty (1998), Annie Dunne (2002), A Long Long Way (2005). His plays include Prayers of Sherkin (1991), The Only True History of Lizzie Finn (1995), The Steward of Christendom (1995), Our Lady of Sligo (1998) and Hinterland (2002). He lives in Wicklow and is a member of Aosdána.

Marina Carr grew up in Co. Offaly. Her main theatrical works include Low in the Dark (1989), The Deer’s Surrender (1990), This Love Thing (1991), Ullaloo (1991),The Mai (1994), Portia Coughlan (1996), On Raftery’s Hill (1996), and Ariel (2002). Her awards include The Irish Times Best New Play Award, the Dublin Theatre Festival Best New Play Award in 1994 for The Mai, a McCauley Fellowship, a Hennessy Award, the Susan Smyth Blackburn Prize, and an E.M. Forster prize from the American academy of Arts and Letters. She is a member of Aosdána and lives in Kerry.

Anthony Cronin is a poet, novelist, memoirest, biographer, and cultural critic. His many works include the novels The Life of Riley, and Identity Papers. His collections of poetry include Poems (1958), Collected Poems, 1950-73 (1973), New and Selected Poems (1982), The End of the Modern World (1989); Relationships (1992), and Minotaur (1999). His non-fiction includes Dead as Doornails (1976), Heritage Now (1982/1983), and Samuel Beckett: The Last Modernist (1996). A play, The Shame of it, was produced in the Peacock Theatre in 1974. He has been associate editor of The Bell and Literary Editor of Time and Tide. In 1983 he received The Martin Toonder Award for his contribution to Irish Literature. He is a founding member of Aosdána, and lives in Dublin.

Roddy Doyle was born in Dublin and worked as a teacher before becoming a full-time writer in 1993. His novels are The Commitments (1987), The Snapper (1990), The Van (1991), which was shortlisted for the Booker Prize; Paddy Clarke Ha Ha Ha (1993), which won the 1993 Booker prize; The Woman Who Walked into Doors (1996), A Star Called Henry (1999), and Oh, Play That Thing (2004). His drama includes War (1989) and Brownbread (1993), as well as The Family, written for television. He has written the scripts for films based on his novels, including The Commitments, The Snapper, and The Van. He lives in Dublin.

Anne Enright was born in Dublin and is a novelist and short-story writer. She has published a collection of stories, The Portable Virgin (1991) which won the Rooney Prize that year. Novels include The Wig My Father Wore (1995), which was shortlisted for the Irish Times/ Aer Lingus Irish Literature Prize; What Are You Like? (2000), which won the Royal Society of Authors Encore Prize; and The Pleasure of Eliza Lynch (2002). Her stories have appeared in The New Yorker, The Paris Review and Granta. She was the inaugural winner of The Davy Byrne Award for her short story Honey. Her most recent work is a book of essays about motherhood, Making Babies (2004).

Hugo Hamilton was born in Dublin of Irish-German parentage. He has brought elements of his dual identity to his novels. Surrogate City (1990); The Last Shot (1991); and The Love Test (1995). His short stories were collected as Dublin Where the Palm Trees Grow (1996). His later novels are Headbanger (1996); and Sad Bastard (1998). He has also published a memoir of his Irish-German childhood, The Speckled People (2003). In 1992 he was awarded the Rooney Prize for Irish Literature. He lives in Dublin and is a member of Aosdána.


XVIII, 164
ISBN (Softcover)
Publication date
2020 (April)
Oxford, Bern, Berlin, Bruxelles, New York, Wien, 2005. XIII, 164 pp., 12 fig. b/w

Biographical notes

Colm Toibin (Volume editor)


Title: Synge: A Celebration
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183 pages