Three Plays
by Padraic Colum
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I have been asked to say something about the intentions and ideas that underlie the three short plays in this volume.

These plays were conceived in the early days of the Irish National Theatre. I had been one of the group that formed the National Theatre Society and I wrote plays for players who were my colleagues and my instructors; I wrote them for a small, barely-furnished stage in a small theatre; I wrote them, too, for an audience that was tremendously interested in every expression of national character. "The Land" was written to celebrate the redemption of the soil of Ireland—an event made possible by the Land Act of 1903. This event, as it represented the passing of Irish acres from an alien landlordism, was considered to be of national importance. "The Land" also dealt with a movement that ran counter to the rooting of the Celtic people in the soil—emigration—the emigration to America of the young and the fit. In "The Land" I tried to show that it was not altogether an economic necessity that was driving young men and women out of the Irish rural districts; the lack of life and the lack of freedom there had much to do with emigration.

"The Land" touched upon a typical conflict, the conflict between the individual and that which, in Ireland, has much authority, the family group. This particular conflict was shown again in "The Fiddler's House." where the life, not of the actual peasants, but of rural people with artistic and aristocratic traditions, was shown.

I tried to show the same conflict working out more tragically in the play of middle-class life, "Thomas Muskerry." Here I went above the peasant and the wandering artist and came to the official. I had intended to make plays about the merchant, the landowner, the political and the intellectual leader and so write a chapter in an Irish Human Comedy. But while I was thinking of the play that is third in this volume my connection with the National Theatre Society was broken off. "Thomas Muskerry" was produced in the Abbey Theatre after I had ceased to be a member of the group that had founded it.






CONN HOURICAN, a Fiddler. MAIRE (Mary) [1] HOURICAN, his daughter. ANNE HOURICAN, a younger daughter. BRIAN MACCONNELL, a younger farmer. JAMES MOYNIHAN, a farmer's son.

The action passes in the Houricans' house in the Irish Midlands.

[Footnote 1: The name is pronounced as if written "Maurya."]


SCENE: The interior of a farmer's cottage; the kitchen. The entrance is at the back right. To the left is the fire-place, an open hearth, with a fire of peat. There is a room door to the right, a pace below the entrance; and another room door below the fire-place. Between the room door and the entrance there is a row of wooden pegs, on which men's coats hang. Below this door is a dresser containing pretty delpht. There is a small window at back, a settle bed folded into a high bench; a small mirror hangs right of the window. A backed chair and some stools are about the hearth. A table to the right with cloth and tea things on it. The cottage looks pretty and comfortable. It is towards the close of an Autumn day.

James Moynihan has finished tea; Anne Hourican is at the back, seated on the settle knitting, and watching James. James Moynihan is about twenty-eight. He has a good forehead, but his face is indeterminate. He has been working in the fields, and is dressed in trousers, shirt, and heavy boots. Anne Hourican is a pretty, dark-haired girl of about nineteen.

James Moynihan rises.

ANNE And so you can't stay any longer, James?

JAMES (with a certain solemnity) No, Anne. I told my father I'd be back while there was light, and I'm going back. (He goes to the rack, takes his coat, and puts it on him) Come over to our house to-night, Anne. I'll be watching the girls coming in, and thinking on yourself; there's none of them your match for grace and favour. My father wanted me to see a girl in Arvach. She has three hundred pounds, besides what the priest, her uncle, will leave her. "Father," says I, "listen to me now. Haven't I always worked for you like a steady, useful boy?" "You have," says he. "Did I ever ask you for anything unreasonable?" says I. "No," says he. "Well then," says I, "don't ask me to do unreasonable things. I'm fond of Anne Hourican, and not another girl will I marry. What's money, after all?" says I, "there's gold on the whin-bushes if you only knew it." And he had to leave it at that.

ANNE You always bring people around.

JAMES The quiet, reasonable way is the way that people like.

ANNE Still, with all, I'm shy of going into your house.

JAMES Don't doubt but there'll be a welcome before you; come round with Maire.

Anne rises, and comes to him. She has graceful, bird-like movements.

ANNE (putting her hands on James' shoulders) Maybe we won't have a chance of seeing each other after all.

James Moynihan kisses her reverently

JAMES Sit down now, Anne, because there's something I want to show you. Do you ever see "The Shamrock"?

ANNE Very seldom.

James and Anne go to the settle; they sit down.

JAMES There be good pieces in it sometimes. There's a poem of mine in it this week.

ANNE Of yours, James? Printed, do you mean?

JAMES Ay, printed. (He takes a paper out of his pocket, and opens it) It's a poem to yourself, though your name doesn't come into it. (Gives paper) Let no one see it, Anne, at least not for the present. And now, good-bye.

Goes to the door. Anne continues reading the verse eagerly. At the door James turns and recites:—

When lights are failing, and skies are paling, And leaves are sailing a-down the air, O, it's then that love lifts my heart above My roving thoughts and my petty care; And though the gloom be like the tomb, Where there's no room for my love and me, O, still I'll find you, and still I'll bind you, My wild sweet rose of Aughnalee!

That's the first stanza. Good-bye.

James goes out. Anne continues reading, then she leaves the paper down with a sigh.

ANNE O, it's lovely! (She takes the paper up again, rises and goes to the door. She remains looking out. Some one speaks to her) No, Brian, Maire's not back yet. Ay, I'll engage she'll give you a call when she does come back. (Anne turns back. She opens drawer in the dresser and puts paper in. She begins to clear table, putting the delpht back on dresser. To herself, anxiously) I hope Maire won't forget to call at the mill. (Room door right opens, and Conn Hourican comes down. Conn Hourican is a man of about fifty, with clear-cut, powerful features, his face is clean-shaven, his expression vehement. His dress is old-fashioned. He wears knee-breeches, a frieze coat rather long, a linen shirt with a little linen collar and a black string for bow. He carries a slick and moves about restlessly)

ANNE Had Maire any talk of going to the mill, father?

CONN I heard nothing of it.

ANNE I hope she'll mind of it. We must get the meal there, and not be going to the shop so often.

CONN I suppose we must.

He moves about restlessly.

ANNE And I was just thinking that one of us ought to go to Arvach on Tuesday, and get the things there.

CONN The mean, odious creatures!

Anne is startled. She turns from dresser.

ANNE What are you thinking of, father?

CONN That den of robbers. Well, well, I'm finished with them now; but I'm a proud man, and a passionate man, and I'll be even with them yet.

ANNE There's no comfort in going into rough places.

CONN You know nothing at all about it. Were the men in yet?

ANNE James Moynihan was here, because he had to go away early; but Brian MacConnell is outside still. Father, you were home late two nights this week.

CONN And is a man to have no life to himself? But sure you know nothing at all about it. I'm going out now to give Brian MacConnell a hand.

ANNE It's hardly worth while going out now.

CONN There's still light enough to do a bit of mowing, and you ought to know that it isn't right to neglect the boy that's come to do a day's work with you. (Going to the door) Many's the day I put in with the scythe in Ireland, and in England too; I did more than stroll with the fiddle, and I saw more places than where fiddling brought me. (Brian MacConnell comes to the door) I was just going out to you, Brian. I was telling the girl here that it's not right to neglect the boy that's giving you a day's work out of his own goodness.

BRIAN I'm only coming in for a light.

CONN As you're here now, rest yourself.

Brian MacConnell comes in, and goes over to the hearth. He is dark and good-looking, and has something reckless in his look. He wears corduroy trousers, and a shirt loose at the neck. Anne comes to Brian. Conn stands at entrance, his back turned.

BRIAN (lighting his pipe with a coal) When do you expect Maire back?

ANNE She'll be here soon. Shell give you a call if you're outside,

BRIAN How is it you couldn't keep James Moynihan?

ANNE It's because you didn't say the good word for me, I must think. Be sure you praise me the next time you're working together.

BRIAN Will you do as much for me?

ANNE Indeed, I will, Brian. Myself and another are making a devotion to Saint Anthony.

BRIAN And what would that be for?

ANNE That the Saint might send us good comrades.

BRIAN I thought it was Saint Joseph did that for the girls.

ANNE Sure we couldn't be asking the like from him. We couldn't talk to Saint Joseph that way. We want a nice young saint to be looking at.

Conn turns from the door.

CONN (bitterly) It'll be a poor season, Brian MacConnell.

BRIAN The season's not so bad, after all.

CONN God help them that are depending on the land and the weather for the bit they put into their heads. It's no wonder that the people here are the sort they are, harassed, anxious people.

ANNE The people here mind their own business, and they're a friendly people besides.

CONN People that would leave the best fiddler at the fair to go and look at a bullock.

ANNE (to Brian) He's not satisfied to have this shelter, Brian.

CONN (to Brian) I'm saying, Brian, that her mother had this shelter, and she left it to go the roads with myself.

ANNE That God may rest my mother. It's a pity she never lived to come back to the place. But we ought to be praising grandmother night and day, for leaving this place to Maire.

CONN Your grandmother did that as she did everything else.

ANNE (to Brian) Now, Brian, what would you do with a man that would say the like?

Anne goes outside.

CONN (to Brian) It's small blame to the girl here for thinking something of the place; but I saw the time, Brian MacConnell, when I could make more playing at one fair than working a whole season in this bit of a place.

BRIAN Girls like the shelter, Conn.

CONN Ay, but the road for the fiddler. I'm five years settled here, and I come to be as well known as the begging ass, and there is as much thought about me. Fiddling, let me tell you, isn't like a boy's whistling. It can't be kept up on nothing.

BRIAN I understand that, Conn.

CONN I'm getting that I can't stand the talk you hear in houses, wars and Parliaments, and the devil knows what ramais.

BRIAN There's still a welcome for the man of art, somewhere.

CONN That somewhere's getting further and further away, Brian.

BRIAN You were not in the town last night?

CONN I was not, Brian. God help me, I spent the night my lone.

BRIAN There's Sligomen in the town.

CONN Is there, now? It would be like our times to play for them. (Anne comes in with some peat) Anne, would you bring me down my spectacles? They're in the room, daughter. (Anne goes to room. Conn turns to Brian eagerly) I suppose the Sligomen will be in Flynn's.

BRIAN They were there last night.

CONN Listen, Brian, I've a reason for not going to Flynn's. Would you believe it, Brian, Flynn spoke to me about the few shillings I owe him?

BRIAN That was shabby of him. He got a lot out of you in the way of playing.

CONN It's just like them. Besides, Maire keeps us tight enough, and I often have to take treats from the men. They're drovers and rambling labourers and the like, though, as you say, they've the song and music, and the proper talk. Listen, Brian, could you leave a few shillings on the dresser for me?

BRIAN To be sure I will, Conn.

Brian goes to the dresser, and puts money on a shelf.

CONN (with dignity) Thank you, Brian. There's few I'd let put me under a compliment; but I take it from you. Maire, as I said, is a careful girl, but some of us must have our freedom. Besides, Brian, the bird that sings lone sings slow. The man of art must have his listeners. (Conn takes the money off dresser) Anne, daughter, what's keeping you there? Sure the spectacles were in my pocket the whole time, child. (Anne comes dawn) When I spoke against the people about here, I was leaving you out of it, Brian.

BRIAN I'm fond of tune, though it wasn't here I got fond of it.

Brian goes to the door.

ANNE (going to Brian) You won't be rambling again, Brian?

BRIAN I'm settled here, Anne; I made it up with my brothers.

ANNE They used to say that a MacConnell quarrel was a lasting quarrel.

BRIAN Maybe we're working the bad blood out of us.

ANNE Don't be staying out long, Brian.

BRIAN Till Maire gives me the call.

Brian MacConnell goes out.

ANNE We oughtn't to take another clay from Brian MacConnell. There's only the patch at the back to be mown, and you could do that yourself.

CONN You can depend on me for the mowing. I'm going up now, to go over an oul' tune I have.

ANNE James Moynihan would come over and stack for us.

CONN James Moynihan is a decent boy, too.

ANNE You won't be going out to-night, father?

CONN Now, how's a man to know what he'll be doing?

ANNE It leaves me very anxious.

CONN I'll give you this advice, and it's proper advice to give to a girl thinking of marrying. Never ask of your menkind where they're going.

ANNE The like of that brings bad luck on a house.

CONN You have too much dead knowledge, and the shut fist never caught a bird.

ANNE I only wish you were settled down.

CONN Sure I am settled down.

ANNE I can't speak to you, after all.

CONN You're a good girl, Anne, and he'll be lucky that gets you. And don't be grieving that you're not bringing James Moynihan a fortune. You're bringing him the decency of birth and rearing. You're like the lone pigeon I often think—the pet that doesn't fly, and keeps near the house.

ANNE That's the way you always treat me, and I never can talk to you.

CONN (at window) Hush now, here's the other, your sister Maire. She's like the wild pigeon of the woods. (Maire Hourican comes in) We were discoursing on affairs, Maire. We won't be bringing Brian MacConnell here tomorrow; there's only the bit at the back to be mown, and I'll do that myself.

Conn Hourican goes into the room right; soon after the fiddle is heard. Anne goes to the settle, and takes up her knitting. Maire takes her shawl off, and hangs it on the rack. Maire Hourican is over twenty. She is tall, and has easy, graceful movements; her features are fine and clear-cut; the nose is rather blunted, the mouth firm. Her gaze is direct and clear. She has heavy auburn hair, loose now, and falling. Maire comes down to the table, opens basket, and takes some flowers from top. She turns to dresser and arranges some of the flowers in a jar.

MAIRE We'd have no right to take another day from Brian. And when there's no one here to-morrow, you and me could draw some of the turf.

ANNE Your hair is loose, Maire.

Maire goes to the mirror and fixes her hair.

MAIRE The wind blew it about me, and then I let it down. I came home by the long way, just to feel young again with my hair about me.

ANNE And did you meet any one?

MAIRE Indeed I did. I met James Moynihan.

ANNE James had to go early. They're building at his place.

MAIRE Indeed they ought to let James build a house for himself. ANNE Some day they will, Maire.

MAIRE But we must not let some day be a far day.

ANNE (hesitatingly) I think I'll show you something.

MAIRE What is it, daughter?

Anne rises and goes to the dresser. She opens drawer. Maire watches her.

MAIRE (waiting) I made a good girl out of you, anyway.

ANNE You wouldn't let me use stroller words when we were on the road. Do you mind of that?

MAIRE I kept you to the mannerly ways. I have that to my credit.

ANNE (showing Maire the verses) Read that, Maire. It was James that made it.

MAIRE It's a song, I declare.

ANNE No, Maire, it's a poem.

MAIRE A poem? O, that's grand!

She begins to read it eagerly.

ANNE And, Maire—


ANNE James says it's about me.

MAIRE About you? O, I wish some one would put me into a song, or into a poem; I suppose a poem would be best. You might ask James. No, I'll coax him myself. Ah, no I won't, Anne.

ANNE You may keep it for a while, but don't let any one know.

MAIRE He must be very fond of you, and I thinking him so quiet.

ANNE (happy) He has grand thoughts about me.

MAIRE Well, you'll be seeing him to-night.

ANNE I don't know that I'll go out to-night.

MAIRE Sure Grace Moynihan asked us to go over.

ANNE I'm shy of going into James'.

MAIRE Anne, you're the only one of us that has any manners. Maybe you're right not to go.

ANNE I'll stay in to-night.

MAIRE Then Brian and myself will go to Moynihan's.

ANNE You'd get an indulgence, Maire, if you missed a dance.

MAIRE Would it be so hard to get an indulgence? (She takes flowers from dresser and puts them in window) The house looks nice this evening. We'll keep Brian here for a while, and then we'll go to Moynihan's.

ANNE Father will be going out to-night.

MAIRE (turning suddenly from window) Will he?

ANNE He will. I think I ought to stay in. Maire, father was in only a while before you the night before last and another night.

MAIRE O, and I thinking things were going so well with us. He's drinking again.

ANNE He's going to Flynn's again.

MAIRE Disgracing us again.

ANNE I'll stay in to-night.

MAIRE I'm tired of this.

ANNE Don't say it that way, Maire.

MAIRE What will people say of us two now?

ANNE I'll talk to him to-night.

MAIRE No, you're going out—you're going to Moynihan's—you're going to see your sweetheart.

ANNE I think you're becoming a stranger to us, Maire.

MAIRE You're going to Moynihan's to-night, and I'm going, too. But I'm going to settle this first. Once and for all I'm going to settle this.

The fiddle has ceased. As Maire goes towards the room, Conn Hourican comes down, the fiddle in his hand.

CONN Were you listening to the tune I was playing? Ah, that was a real oul tune, if there was anyone that knew it. Maire, my jewel, were you listening?

MAIRE I heard you.

CONN It was a real oul' tune, and while I was playing it a great scheme came into my head. Now, listen to me, Maire; and you listen, too, Anne. Both of you would like to see your father having what's his due after all, honour and respect.

MAIRE Both of us would like to see our father earn the same.

CONN I could earn the same, ay, and gold and silver cups besides, if I had the mind to earn them.

He puts fiddle on table and prepares to speak impressively.

CONN Let ye listen to me now; I've a scheme to put before ye. When I was going over the oul tune, I remembered that I'd heard of a Feis [2] that's coming on soon, the Feis of Ardagh. I'm thinking of going there. There will be great prizes for some one; I don't doubt but I'd do at Ardagh better than I did at the Feis of Granard, where people as high as bishops were proud and glad to know Conn Hourican the Fiddler.

[Footnote 2: Feis, pronounced Fesh, a musical or literary gathering, with competitions.]

ANNE Father, you've a place to mind.

CONN I'm tired of that kind of talk; sure I'm always thinking of the place. Maire hasn't little notions. What do you say to it, Maire, my girl?

MAIRE What do I say? I say you're not a rambler now, though indeed you behave like one.

CONN You have something against me, Maire.

MAIRE I have.

CONN What has she against me, Anne?

MAIRE All the promises you broke.

CONN You were listening to what the town is saying.

MAIRE What does the town know? Does it know that you stripped us of stock and crop the year after we came here? Does it know that Anne and myself, two girls of the roads, had to struggle ever since to keep a shelter?

CONN (bitterly) It knows that. It couldn't help but know it, maybe. But does it know all the promises you made and broke?

CONN (angrily) Hush now; I'll hear no more. I went my own way always, and I'll go my own way always.

He goes to the entrance, and remains with his back turned. Maire goes to Anne.

MAIRE (raising her voice) Ay, he'll go his own way always. What was the good of working and saving here?

ANNE Be quiet with him.

MAIRE He'll go his own way always, and it's foolish of us to be fretting for him night and day.

Maire sits on stool and puts her hands across her face.

CONN (turning his head) Fretting for me. It was too easy that I reared you.

ANNE God help Maire! She kept the house together at the worst, and she is always fretting for us.

CONN I'm oul' enough to mind myself. Let her remember that.

ANNE It's you that ought to remember that.

CONN (going to Maire) Did I ever give the harsh word to you, child?

No answer.

CONN There, there; I never could see tears in a woman's eyes; there, there, colleen. I'm an oul' man; I won't be a trouble to you long.

MAIRE (rising) Why need you play in Flynn's? You're as good as any that goes there.

CONN I know that. I'm disgusted with Flynn. May hell loosen his knees for him! I'll go in and throw his money on the counter.

MAIRE Some one else can do that. Promise me you won't go near the place.

CONN You'll have me promise. I promise.

MAIRE Take this in your hand and promise. It's a medal that belonged to mother.

She takes a medal from her neck

CONN (taking the medal) I'm disgusted with Flynn. I promise you, Maire.

MAIRE Now you've honour and respect.

CONN And what about Ardagh, Maire?

MAIRE Sure, you're not the rambling fiddler any more.

CONN That would be the good rambling. I see the trees making shadows across the roads.

MAIRE We'll talk about it again.

ANNE Brian MacConnell will be coming in now. CONN I'm going out to Brian MacConnell.

He goes to the door.

ANNE Tell Brian to come in now.

Conn Hourican goes out. There is a pause. Maire hums a tune as she goes to the mirror.

MAIRE Am I looking well to-day?

ANNE (rather distantly) You're looking your best, I think. (Seriously) Maire, I didn't like the way you talked to father.

MAIRE (petulantly) What have you against it?

ANNE You're becoming a stranger to us, Maire.

MAIRE (as an apology) I'm out often, I know, but I think as much as ever of the house, and about you and father. You know we couldn't let him go to the Feis at Ardagh. We couldn't let him go off like a rambling fiddler.

ANNE We couldn't let him go off by himself.

MAIRE You're going to Moynihan's.

ANNE Maybe I'll go.

MAIRE Anne, honey, do something for me.

ANNE What will I do?

MAIRE You'll meet father coming up with Brian, and take him away.

ANNE And will you tell me everything to-night?

MAIRE Who else would I talk to but yourself, Nancy? (Anne goes out) I wish Anne hadn't spoken to me like that. I feel the like of that. (Desperately) Well, I'll pray for nothing now but to look my best. (She goes to the fire. Brian MacConnell comes in) You're welcome, Brian.

BRIAN We didn't finish to-day. I'll come in to-morrow and finish.

MAIRE O no, Brian, we won't take another day from you.

BRIAN Well, what's a day after all? Many's the day and night I put in thinking on you.

MAIRE But did you do what I asked you to do?

BRIAN I did. I made it up with my brothers. It was never my way before. What I wanted I took with the strong hand; or if I mightn't put the strong hand on it, I left it alone.

MAIRE (eagerly) Tell me what your brother said to you.

BRIAN When I came up to the door, Hugh came out to meet me. "What destruction are you bringing me?" he said. "There's my hand," says I, "and I take your offer." MAIRE Ah, that's settled. You could settle anything, Brian. (She goes to the settle and sits down) I wonder could you settle something for us?

BRIAN What is it, Maire?

MAIRE It's my father. He wants to be rambling again. He wants to be going to some Feis.

BRIAN Sure, let him go.

He takes her hand.

MAIRE I couldn't, Brian. Couldn't you help us? Couldn't you keep father's mind on the right things?

BRIAN Sure, let the fiddler go on the roads.

MAIRE You might stay here this evening with ourselves. Father would be glad to talk with you.

BRIAN (putting his arm around her) But I want the two of us to be seen in Moynihan's to-night.

MAIRE (resistance in her voice) Stay here with us, and let all that go by.

BRIAN Hugh will be there with that woman that brought him the big fortune; and I want you to take the shine out of her.

MAIRE (rising) I was out often lately. You know that, Brian.

She goes to chair at table, and sits away from him.

BRIAN (rising and going to her) But this night above all you must be with me.

MAIRE (turning to him impulsively) Stay here and I'll be as nice to you as if we were in another house. (He kisses her. She rises and goes from him) If you knew me at all, Brian MacConnell, that's not the way you'd treat me.

BRIAN Are you not coming out with me?

MAIRE You must leave me to myself now. (Conn Hourican comes in) Is Anne with you, father?

CONN She's gathering posies or something like that. Brian, did you hear about the Feis at Ardagh?

MAIRE (with vehemence) Oh, what's the good of talking about that? You can't go.

CONN Can't go, did you say, girl?

MAIRE Oh, how could you go?

CONN Is that the way? Well, God help us. Give me that fiddle till I leave it up.

He takes the fiddle off dresser, and turns to go.

MAIRE Father, let me be with you to-night; oh, I'm sorry if I vexed you. (No reply) Well, stay with Brian MacConnell; I'm going out to Anne.

Maire goes out. Brian goes to rack, and puts on his coat.

BRIAN Are you coming, Conn? I'm off.

CONN Where to, man?

BRIAN To Flynn's.

CONN I can't be going, I'm sorry to say.

BRIAN I'm going anyway. It's a great thing to be in the company of men.

CONN Ay, in troth. Women, Brian, leave the heart of one very lonesome.

BRIAN (masterfully) Why can't you come out? I thought you were going to-night.

CONN I can't, Brian, and that reminds me. Give these few shillings to Flynn for me. I'll owe them to you still.

BRIAN I'm not going to be bothered by the like. Why can't you come?

CONN I promised Maire.

Brian strides away. He turns, comes back deliberately, and sits on table beside Conn.

BRIAN They'll be all looking out for you at Flynn's.

CONN Well, the next time they see me they may respect me.

BRIAN Some of the boys will take it very unkindly. CONN They're decent enough fellows, some of them.

BRIAN And above all nights they'll be watching out for you this night, on account of the Sligomen.

CONN They're decent enough fellows, as I said, and I'll be sorry to disappoint them.

BRIAN The Sligomen will have great stories about Shawn Heffernan.

CONN Shawn Heffernan! Is that impostor still alive?

BRIAN He is, and for fiddling these Sligomen think there's not the like of him in the whole of Ireland.

CONN God help them if that's all they know. We played against each other at the Granard Feis. He got the prize, but everybody knew that it was me played the best.

BRIAN There's few of them alive now that mind of the Granard Feis. He got the prize, and there's no talk of you at all.

CONN No talk of me at all?

BRIAN It's said that since you settled down you lost your art.

CONN And what had the men at Flynn's to say about that? BRIAN They bragged about you for a while, but the Sligomen put them down.

CONN I wonder would we have time to go up, play a few tunes, and come back, while Maire would be doing something? It would be a pity not to give them fellows a lesson and close their ignorant mouths for them. I wonder would we have time? (Anne comes in with Maire) I thought you went somewhere and left Brian and myself here.

ANNE We're going somewhere and Brian might come with us.

MAIRE Every one is going to Moynihan's.

CONN It's a pleasant house, a pleasant house. Brian will make his ceilidh [3] with me. We might go over a few tunes.

ANNE Let Brian come where there are girls that might miss him.

MAIRE Anne, you're a great one for keeping up the story that girls are always thinking about men.

ANNE And so they are. Just as men are always thinking about girls.

MAIRE You'd make a good ribbonman.[4] You'd put a face on anything you said.

[Footnote 3: Celidh, pronounced cayley, a visit.]

[Footnote 4: A ribbonman—a member of a secret agrarian society.]

ANNE Ribbonism and secret societies were denounced off the altar.

MAIRE Goodness! The men will begin to think they've secrets worth telling.

ANNE Have you secrets worth telling, Brian?

MAIRE I daresay he has. There are foolish women in the world.

ANNE Are you coming to Moynihan's, Brian?

BRIAN No. I'm going where there's men.

MAIRE Come, Anne, till I deck you out. Come here, daughter, don't wear flowers. I think they're unlucky. Here I am talking like this, and I going to a dance. I suppose I'll dance with seven or eight and forget what's on my mind.... Everyone is going to Moynihan's except the men here. Are you going out, father?

CONN I'm making a ceilidh with Brian.

MAIRE Well, God be with you both. Come on, Anne.

Maire takes down her shawl, and puts it over her head. She stands at the door, watching Anne, who goes to Brian.

ANNE Brian, what have you against Moynihan's?

BRIAN Nothing at all. I may go in. MAIRE Come on, Anne. God be with you both.

Maire and Anne go out. They are heard talking for a while. Conn goes to the door.

CONN Maire and Anne are turning the bohereen. [5] Come on now.

He takes his fiddle and begins to wrap it up eagerly.

BRIAN Ay, let's go.

CONN (at door) I never forget, I never forget. The Granard Feis is as fresh in my mind as the day I played at it. Shawn Heffernan, indeed! I never forget. I never forget.

Conn Hourican and Brian MacConnell go out.

[Footnote 5: Bohereen—the little path going from the cottage to the main road.]



The next day: The scene is as in previous Act. It is now in the forenoon. Maire Hourican is seated at the fire in a listless attitude. Anne is busy at the dresser. Maire rises.

MAIRE We shouldn't have stayed at Moynihan's so late.

ANNE Indeed it would have been better to go home, but I was sure that Brian MacConnell would come in.

MAIRE Well, it was his own loss if he didn't come. Maybe there was one there that I liked better.

ANNE You couldn't have liked Connor Gilpatrick better than Brian MacConnell.

MAIRE Connor's the best-looking boy in the country. Was it noticed that we were together often?

ANNE (significantly) Peggy Carroll noticed it.

MAIRE Well, the boy was glad to talk to me. Connor's a good dancer, and he has fine talk besides. If Brian MacConnell had come to the door, I wouldn't have turned my head towards him.

ANNE Sure, you wouldn't compare a young boy like Connor Gilpatrick with Brian MacConnell?

MAIRE I wouldn't have turned my head towards Brian. O! never expect kindness from men. Why did you let me stay on? I'm afraid to look at myself in the glass to-day. (She goes over to the mirror) You were hard on me, Anne, yesterday.

ANNE I didn't like the way you talked to father.

MAIRE I think I'm getting different to what I used to be. Well, I've reason to be sorry for what I did yesterday. (She is at window) Was Peggy Carroll vexed at the way I went on?

ANNE She never took her eyes off the pair of you. You know she's very fond of Connor.

MAIRE Anne, never remind me of my foolishness, I'm heartsick of myself to-day.

ANNE I'll comb out your hair for you, and you'll look well enough.

MAIRE Then you're expecting Brian MacConnell?

ANNE It's likely he'll come in to see if there's anything to be done.

MAIRE I suppose he'll come in. Gracious, how did father get out? He's coming up the path.

ANNE (coming to Maire) Father's not up, surely? Maire, be easy with Brian MacConnell when he comes in.

MAIRE Father's coming up the path. Anne!

ANNE What is it, Maire?

MAIRE Father wasn't in at all, last night.

ANNE Then he went to Flynn's, after all.

MAIRE Ay, he went to Flynn's.

She goes to Anne.

ANNE O Maire, what will become of us all?

MAIRE I don't know.

Maire goes to the settle, and sits down.

ANNE What will we do with him at all?

Conn Hourican comes in.

CONN God save you! (He looks around) Well, I came back to ye.

ANNE You did, God help us! And we depending on you. It's the bad way you always treated us.

CONN Did you hear what happened to me, before you attack me?

ANNE What happened to you? What always happens to you?

CONN I wonder that a man comes in at all! The complaints against him are like the Queen's Speech, prepared beforehand.

ANNE Ever since I can remember, you treated us like that. Bringing us into drinking-places and we little. It's well we got to know anything, or got into the way of being mannerly at all.

CONN You know too much. I always said that. Is James Moynihan coming here to-day?

ANNE No, he isn't coming here to-day.

CONN Well, we can do without him. There's something to be done to-day. I said I'd do the bit of mowing, and I was thinking of that all along. (He looks at Maire) Did you hear what happened to me, Maire?

MAIRE It's no matter at all.

CONN I went over to Flynn's, I may tell you.

ANNE In troth we might have known that.

CONN But did you hear what happened to me?

ANNE How could we hear? It was Maire went to the door, and there you were coming up the path; and we thinking you were in bed, resting yourself.

CONN I went over to Flynn's, but I had good reason for going there. (He puts the fiddle down on the table) Didn't you hear there were Sligomen in the town, Maire? Well, one of them was in the way of rewarding the prizes. I told you about the Feis; well, it's no matter now, I'll say no more about that. At all events the man I mentioned wanted to know what music was in the country, so he sent a message to myself.

ANNE (as satirical as she can be) That was kind of him.

CONN It was. I could do no less than go. I'll rest myself now, and then get ready for the mowing. (He goes to the room door; he turns again and watches Maire) Maire, I'm sorry you weren't on the spot. You might have advised me. I couldn't think of where you went or I'd have followed you. I had to make haste.

MAIRE It's no matter at all now.

CONN I'll stretch myself on the bed before I begin work. Anne, did you say you were leaving something in the room for me?

ANNE I suppose I'll have to leave the tea in the room for you.

She gets the tea ready. Maire remains motionless.

CONN Well, I have the pattern of daughters, anyway. I wouldn't give this house for the praise of Ireland, no, not if they carried me on their backs. (Anne takes the tea up to the room) It's a pity you weren't there, Maire, though of course I wouldn't bring you into such a place. But they were decent fellows, decent, warm-hearted fellows. If you were to see their faces when I played An Chaitin Donn. I'll warrant they'll be whistling it, though they never heard the tune before. And the manners they have! I offered the fiddle to one of them. "No," says he, "not a string will I touch while the master of us is here." That's something like the spirit. (Maire has turned to him and is attentive) But there, I won't fill myself up with false music telling you about it all.

He turns to the room.

MAIRE Bring up your fiddle.

CONN (taking fiddle and going towards room again) It will be as good as sound sleeping for me. I'll never forget it. Flynn will never forget it. It will be the making of Flynn.

Maire rises.

MAIRE You've only your fiddle; we shouldn't forget that.

Conn goes up to the room. Maire turns to the fire. Anne comes down.

ANNE O Maire, what will become of us at all?

MAIRE He is very pleased with himself. He has only his fiddle, we shouldn't forget that.

ANNE It will be a long time till he does the like again.

MAIRE It will be a long time, I suppose. Both of us might be in a different house and have different cares.

ANNE That would be terrible. I'll never leave him, Maire. MAIRE You can't say the like now.


MAIRE How could you take such things upon you and life stretching out before you? You're not young enough, Anne. Besides, it's not what we say; it's what we feel. No, it's not what we feel either; it's what grows up in us.

ANNE He might never do the like again.

MAIRE Many's the time mother said that, and she and me lying together.

ANNE Will we ever get out of it, Maire?

James enters.

MAIRE You have only a while to stay with us.

ANNE O James, what will your father say if he hears of you giving us another day?

JAMES My father took a stick in his hand this morning, and went off with himself.

MAIRE You're welcome, James. It was a pleasant time we had in your house last evening.

JAMES I hope you liked the company, Maire. I'm afraid there was very little to be called refined or scholarly, and the conversation at times was homely enough. But we did our best, and we were proud to see you.

MAIRE Sit down, James.

James sits on chair, near table. Maire is seated at fire, left of James. Anne leans against table, right of him.

JAMES Your father is outside, maybe?

MAIRE No. He's above in the room.

JAMES Yes. Practising, I suppose. Them that have the gift have to mind the gift. In this country there isn't much thought for poetry, or music, or scholarship. Still, a few of us know that a while must be spared from the world if we are to lay up riches in the mind.

ANNE I hope there's nothing wrong at home?

JAMES (turning to Anne) To tell you the truth, Anne, and to keep nothing back, there is.

MAIRE And what is it, James?

JAMES (turning to Maire) Anne was talking to my father last night.

ANNE Indeed I was, and I thought him very friendly to me.

JAMES Ay, he liked you well enough, I can tell you that, Anne. This morning when he took a stick in his hand, I knew he was making ready for a journey, for the horse is laid up. "Walk down a bit with me," said he, "and we'll go over a few things that are in my mind." Well, I walked down with him, and indeed we had a serious conversation.

ANNE Well?

JAMES "Anne Hourican is too young," said my father; "she's a nice girl, and a good girl, but she's too young."

MAIRE Sure in a while Anne will be twenty.

JAMES (turning to Maire) Ten years from this father would still think Anne too young. And late marriages, as everybody knows, is the real weakness of the country.

ANNE I thought your father liked me.

JAMES He likes you well enough, but, as he says, "what would she be doing here and your sisters years older than herself?" There's truth in that, mind you. I always give in to the truth.

MAIRE James?

JAMES (turning to Maire) Well, Maire?

MAIRE Is Anne a girl to be waiting twenty years for a man, like Sally Cassidy?

JAMES God forbid, Maire Hourican, that I'd ask your sister to wait that length. MAIRE She hasn't got a fortune. We were brought up different to farmers, and maybe we never gave thought to the like.

JAMES She has what's better than a fortune.

MAIRE Why aren't your sisters married off?

JAMES Big fortunes are expected with them.

MAIRE And they look to your wife to bring a big fortune into the house?

JAMES Ay, they do that.

MAIRE You, James, ought to have some control in the house. You're the only son. Your father is well off. Get him to fortune off your sisters, and then bring Anne to the house.

JAMES But how could I get father to fortune off the girls?

MAIRE How? By wakening up. You have the right. When we have the right, we ought to be able to do anything we like with the people around us.

JAMES I give in to the truth of that, Maire.

MAIRE What will come of you giving in to the truth of it? But sure you ought to remember, Anne.

ANNE (taking James's hand) James has the good way with people.

MAIRE Well, I suppose it will come out right for you in the end. You are both very deserving. (She rises) But some time or another we have to take things into our own hands.

JAMES Indeed that's true, Maire.

Maire goes to back.

ANNE (holding James's hand) Did you make any more songs, James?

JAMES I have a song in my head since last night.

ANNE The one in the paper is lovely. I know it by heart.

JAMES The next I make will be ten times better.

Conn Hourican comes down.

CONN I heard your voice, James, and I thought I'd come down. It's very good of you to come here again. I'll be out with you to-day.

JAMES It'll be a good day from this on. Were you practising above, Mister Hourican?

CONN Well, no, James, I wasn't practising. I was at a big gathering last night, and my hands are unstrung like. We'll talk for a while, and then I'll go out with you.

ANNE (taking James's arm) Come out with me for a minute, James.

JAMES (going off) I'll see you again, Mister Hourican.

James and Anne go out,

CONN Well, God help us. (He turns to go back to the room. Maire comes down from back) Are you going out, Maire?

MAIRE No, I'm staying here.

CONN (aggrieved) Do you mind them two, how they went out together. I think I'll go out and see what's to be done about the place.

Conn goes towards the entrance. Maire goes towards the fire.

CONN (pausing at door) I broke my word to you, Maire.

MAIRE I don't know what to say to you now.

CONN It was the music and the strange faces that drew me.

MAIRE I know that now.

CONN It will be a long time till I break my word to you again.

MAIRE I'll never ask for your word again.

CONN (warmly) I can tell you this, Maire. There's many's the place in Ireland where Conn Hourican's word would be respected.

MAIRE I'll never ask for your word again. You have only your fiddle, and you must go among people that will praise you. When I heard you talking of your listeners, I knew that. I was frightened before that. When I saw you coming, I went and sat there, and I thought the walls of the house were crowding in on me.

CONN You were partly to blame, Maire. You left me there very lonesome.

MAIRE I was to blame, I suppose. I should have treated you differently. Well, I know you better now. Let you sit down and we'll talk together. (Conn sits on chair to right of table) What's to become of myself I don't know. Anne and James Moynihan will marry, I hope. Neither of us have fortunes, and for that reason our house should be well spoken of.

CONN Sure I know that. I wouldn't bring the shadow of a disgrace near ye.

MAIRE If the father isn't well spoken of, how could the house be well spoken of? They're big drinkers that go to Flynn's, and it's easy for the fiddler to get into the way of drinking.

CONN I won't go to Flynn's when you put it that way.

MAIRE I'll ask for no word. I'll let you know the real way of the house, and then trust you.

CONN You're a good girl, Maire. I should have been said by you.

MAIRE From this out there will be dances at the schoolhouse and the like of that. You could be playing at them. CONN None of the oul' people go to the like, and the young don't understand me nor my ways. God knows will I ever play again. That thought is often with me of late, and it makes me very lonesome.

MAIRE That's foolishness.

CONN I was very lonesome when you left me. You don't know how I was tempted, Maire. There was Brian MacConnell putting on his coat to go to Flynn's, and talking of the Sligomen.

MAIRE (startled) And was it to Flynn's that Brian MacConnell went?

CONN It was Brian that brought me to Flynn's.

MAIRE Was it Brian MacConnell that brought you to Flynn's?

CONN It was.

MAIRE (passionately) You must never go to Flynn's.

CONN I'm ashamed of myself. Didn't I say that, Maire?

MAIRE (with hardness) You must never go again.

CONN And is a man to have no life to himself?

MAIRE That's talk just. It's time you thought of your own place and your own children. It's time you gave up caring for the praise of foolish people,

CONN Foolish people, did you say?

MAIRE Ay, foolish people. You had all your life to yourself, and you went here and there, straying from place to place, and caring only for the praise of foolish people.

CONN God help you, if that's your way of thinking! Sure the world knows that a man is born with the gift, and isn't the gift then the sign of the grace of God? Foolish people, indeed! Them that know the gift have some of the grace of God, no matter how poor they may be.

MAIRE You're always thinking of them. You never think of your own. Many's the time your own cried tears over your playing.

CONN (passionately, starting up) I'll go out of the house.

MAIRE Let you stay here.

CONN (going towards entrance) I'll go out of the house, I tell you.


Conn goes over to the fire.

CONN God help me that ever came into this country at all. (He sits down on the armchair, his hands resting on his stick) I had friends once, and was well thought of; I can tell you that, my daughter. MAIRE I know that. CONN Well, you can have your own way with me now.

MAIRE Why can't you stay here? There's lots to be done here. Our fields are a laughing-stock to the neighbours, they're that poor and wasted. Let us put all our minds into working, and have a good place of our own.

CONN Ay, and the grabbers and informers of this place would think well of you then.

MAIRE Who do you call grabbers and informers?

CONN The people of this place. The people you want to shine before.

MAIRE I don't want to shine before the people.

CONN I'm not saying against you, Maire.

MAIRE You're wrong in thinking I want to shine at all.

CONN Sure you go to every dance and ceilidh; and to every house where you can show off your face, and dancing, and conversation.

MAIRE Do I? Maybe I do. Every girl does the like.

CONN I'm not saying against it.


MAIRE You think I'm like yourself, wanting the praise of the people.

CONN And what's the harm if you do?

MAIRE No harm at all. But I don't go to houses to show myself off.

CONN Troth and you do, Maire.

He rises and goes towards the entrance, and remains looking out.

MAIRE I won't believe it.

She goes to the settle. Anne comes in. Anne goes to the glass to fix her hair.

CONN Had you a good night at Moynihan's, Anne?

ANNE A sort of a good night.

CONN I was going to tell you about a man I met last night. He had a song about your grandmother.

ANNE Was grandmother a great beauty, father?

CONN Honor Gilroy had good looks, and indeed she made the most of them.

MAIRE It's likely there was some to tell her that she was showing off.

CONN No one was to her liking unless they praised her.

ANNE Ah well, a fiddler ought to forgive that to a woman. MAIRE Fiddlers and women are all alike, but don't say that to him.

Anne goes to Maire and sits beside her.

CONN (speaking to both) Well, Honor Gilroy wasn't the worst, maybe.

MAIRE And fiddlers and women oughtn't be hard on each other.

CONN Do you say that, Maire?

MAIRE (rising and going to him) I say it, father.

CONN God forgive me if I vexed you, Maire.

ANNE It's clearing up now, father, and you ought to go out to James. (Conn turns to the door. He remains in the doorway. Anne rises and goes to Maire) What did you say to him?

MAIRE (looking at Conn) He doesn't feel it at all. Father will always be the fiddler, no matter what we say.

ANNE Maire. Come and talk to me. (They sit at fire) I was talking to James. He'll never be happy until we're under the one roof.

Maire clasps Anne's hands passionately.

MAIRE (with cry) Anne, daughter, I'll be very lonesome for you.

ANNE But sure I won't be far off, Maire.

MAIRE Ay, but it's terrible to face things alone.

James has come to the door. Conn and James have been talking. They turn in.

CONN But I'll be glad enough to have the scythe in my hands after it all, James.

JAMES Anne was telling me how you took the victory from Connaught.

CONN Still I'm sorry for him! That poor Heffernan! He'll never hold up his head again.

JAMES Sure I'd have it in a ballad that would be sung in his own town. It would be well worth putting into a ballad.

CONN Well indeed, it would make a right good ballad, James.

JAMES I'd like to make a ballad about it, that would be sung all over Connaught.

CONN And why wouldn't you do it, James Moynihan? Sure it would be the making of you. It would be sung all over Ireland, and your name to it. Do you hear that, Maire? Do you hear that, Anne?

JAMES I'm saying that I'd like to do a ballad about your father's victory.

CONN Maybe you could have it this night week, James? ANNE Will it be a poem or a ballad, James?

Anne goes to him.

CONN If you had it this night week, we could bring the boys to the place. What do you say to that, Maire? We'll bring the boys here this night week to hear James Moynihan's ballad.

MAIRE I was thinking of the Feis at Ardagh.

CONN The Feis at Ardagh?

MAIRE Maybe you'll be going to it this night week.

CONN Sure you're not joking with me, Maire?


She rises.

CONN God forgive me, Maire, if I vexed you.

Maire goes up to Conn's room.

CONN Anne, jewel, had Maire anything to say about Ardagh?

ANNE We weren't talking about that at all.

JAMES Play me a rouse on the fiddle and maybe the ballad will come into my head.

Maire comes down, a fiddle in her hands.

MAIRE Here's the fiddle that was your favourite, the Granard fiddle.

CONN And this is the fiddle I'll bring with me to Ardagh.

ANNE And is he going to Ardagh?

JAMES And what about the ballad, Mister Hourican?

CONN I leave it all to Maire now. How well she bethought of the Granard fiddle.

MAIRE Father, we were always together.

She hands him the fiddle. Conn, Maire, James, Anne, are at table.



A week later: The scene is as in previous Acts. The table is near entrance. It is laid for a meal. The time is near sunset. Conn Hourican, Maire Hourican, and James Moynihan are seated at table. Maire Hourican rises. She goes to entrance and remains looking out. Conn and James go on eating.

CONN However it is, I could never play my best in this place. The houses are too scattered, I often think. And it doesn't do for the fiddler to remain too long in the one place. The people get too used to him. Virgil made better songs than any man, but if Virgil was sung in the fairs constant, divil much heed would be given to his songs.

JAMES Now, I often thought of that.

CONN Another thing, James Moynihan, Ribbonism and the Land League ruined the country.

Maire goes out.

JAMES But sure we must be doing something for the Cause.

CONN They were all Fenians here when I came into this country first, over twenty years ago.

He rises and goes into room.

JAMES Well, he's a great man, Conn Hourican. (James rises and goes to fire. Conn comes out of room, carrying a greatcoat) How do you think you'll do at Ardagh?

CONN I think I'll do very well at Ardagh, James.

He leaves coat on settle.

JAMES Everything's ready for the start.

CONN Ay, and it's near time for going. I'm playing very well lately, James. It's the thought of being before people who'll know music. If I was staying in this place any longer, James, I'd put my fiddle in the thatch, and leave it there for the birds to pick holes in.

JAMES But won't you be back here after the Feis at Ardagh?

CONN Well, I will, for a while anyway.

JAMES And would you be going off again after a while?

CONN I'm thinking that when my daughters are settled I'll have the years before me. I was reared in a place south of this, and I'd like to go back there for a while.

JAMES But wouldn't you come back to us?

CONN There's many's the place in Ireland that I never saw, town and countryside. (He takes the greatcoat off settle and puts it on him) Tell me, James Moynihan, is your father satisfied with the settlement that Maire's making for yourself and Anne?

JAMES My father is very well satisfied.

CONN (going towards his room) And so he ought to be, James Moynihan.

Goes into his room.

JAMES My father had always a great liking for Anne. (Anne comes out of the other room. James Moynihan goes to her) May you never think, Anne, that you made the bad choice when you took James Moynihan.

They sit on settle.

ANNE Sure I was never fond of any one but yourself.

JAMES And I never cared for any one after I saw you.

ANNE I used to hear that you were fond of another girl.

JAMES I was fond of the girl that used to be in the newspaper shop in the town.

ANNE And used you to talk with her?

JAMES The elbows were worn out of my coat with leaning on the counter to talk with her. But she married a policeman after that. He was a friend of mine, too. It was me that got him the words and music for "I'll hang my harp on a willow tree"—a song that he was always looking for.

ANNE Did you make any songs about the girl?

JAMES I did not.

ANNE Oh, James, I'm glad of that. I'm glad you made no songs about her.

JAMES Are you content to marry me in the town of Ardagh, after the Feis, as Maire wishes?

ANNE It will be strange to be married in Ardagh, away from the people I know.

JAMES It will be lucky getting married after the Feis.

ANNE James, it's a great trial for a girl to face marriage; but, James, I'm very fond of you.

James kisses her.

JAMES I don't know what to think of them writers who say that the Irish girls haven't the heart for love.

ANNE Is Maire outside?

JAMES She went out.

ANNE It's a wonder that Brian MacConnell isn't here before this.

Anne rises. Maire comes in.

ANNE Is there no one coming here?

MAIRE There is no one on the road.

ANNE Brian MacConnell is late in coming.

Maire comes up to the fire. Anne stands with her. James goes to entrance, and remains looking out.

MAIRE I saw Brian yesterday.

ANNE And did you tell him that you were going at the sunset?

MAIRE I told him we were going in the evening.

ANNE Maybe you were distant with Brian?

MAIRE He looked like a man that something had happened to. Connor Gilpatrick came up, and then I went away.

Conn Hourican comes out of room. He has left the greatcoat in room. He brings the fiddle with him. Maire and Anne go to the settle. They talk.

JAMES (to Conn) What would you think of a row of trees planted before the door?

Conn leaves fiddle on dresser, and comes to him.

CONN They might be very becoming, James.

JAMES My father was saying that the front looked very bare.

CONN A row of trees, when they'd grow, would make a great difference.

JAMES That's what my father was saying.

They talk, Conn leaning on the half-door.

ANNE I'm glad to be here. It would be very strange for me to be married, and in another house.

MAIRE I was thinking, Anne, that father and myself ought to stay a while on the road, till you and James get settled here.

ANNE Listen, Maire. James says that he'll be giving this place back to you after a while. With this start he'll be able to get a house and land near his father's place. He has fine schemes for making this place prosperous. James, come here. (James turns from door) Come here, James, and talk with Maire.

James comes to girls, leaving Conn looking out. Maire rises.

JAMES I'll make a path down to the road, and, with a row of trees before the door, the place will be well worth looking at.

MAIRE We won't know the place after a while.

JAMES We can never forget, Maire, that it is to you that we owe the place and the start in life.

MAIRE I never looked on the place as my own.

JAMES And now that the land is in Anne's name, my father will be glad to stock the place.

MAIRE You have all our will of the place. Father, speak to James and tell him that he has your will of the place.

CONN (turning from door) Indeed you have, James, and we're overglad to have Anne settled with a steady boy.

JAMES Well, long life to you, Conn; and may the man of art never want fame nor a friend.

CONN (going to dresser) Drink to that, James.

He takes up a bottle and fills two glasses.

JAMES I never touch anything, Conn; but if Anne won't think bad of me, I'll drink to your prosperity.

ANNE I won't be watching you at all. (She goes to door. To Maire) I'm going down the road, and if there's any one coming here, I'll let you know.

Anne goes out. James takes the glass from Conn.

JAMES Here's to the fiddler, first of all. May it be again like in the days of Ireland's glory, when the men of art had their rights and their dues.

He drinks.

CONN Long life to yourself, James Moynihan. (Conn drinks) I know you a long time now, and I know nothing to your discredit. You're one of the few people here that are to my liking. Well, if I'm nothing to them, they're nothing to me. I lived my own life, and I had the gift.

JAMES (with excitement) If Anne was here, I'd drink to her. I must go after Anne. May she never repent of her choice. (He goes to the door, then turns round) But sure I'm forgetting the jewel of them all, yourself, Maire Hourican. Long may you reign in splendour and success, and in the wish of your heart.

James Moynihan goes out. Conn Hourican goes back to the door, and remains looking out. Maire stands at fire.

CONN It's strange to be looking across that door, and the sun setting for our journey. And now we're letting the place go out of our hands. Well, Honor Gilroy's bit of land has been brought to a great many people.

He comes down to dresser. Maire goes up to window, and remains looking out.

CONN Is there any one coming here, Maire?

MAIRE There is no one coming. It's no wonder James's father thought the place was bare-looking.

CONN Well, the bit of land is going to James, and I was saying that it has been brought to a great many people.

Maire takes paper out, and looks at it.

CONN What paper is that, Maire?

MAIRE It's a paper that I have to put my name to. (She goes and sits at table) There's a pen and ink near your hand on the dresser, and you might give them to me. It's about giving this place to Anne, and James's father wants my name on the paper.

CONN Well, isn't James's father the councillor, with his paper and his signing? (He brings pen and ink from dresser, and leaves them on table. Maire makes preparations for writing. Conn lights candle at fire, and brings it over to table) And does that give the place to Anne for ever?

MAIRE It gives it to herself. (Maire signs the paper with the slowness of one unaccustomed to writing) It will be a great change for us when we come back to this place.

CONN (going to chair at fire) It will be a great change for you and me, no matter what we say.

MAIRE And now that James's father is putting stock on the land, the Moynihans will have great call to the place.

CONN Maire, your father is thinking of taking to the road.

MAIRE And how long would you be staying on the roads?

CONN Ah, what is there to bring me back to this country, Maire?

MAIRE Sure you're not thinking of going on the roads altogether?

CONN The road for the fiddler.

MAIRE Would you leave the shelter and the settled life? Would you go on the road by yourself?

CONN Anne and yourself will be settled, and I'll have the years before me.

MAIRE Then you'd go on the roads by yourself?

CONN Sure I did it before, Maire.

MAIRE Ah, but do you not remember the prayers that mother used to say for us to get some shelter? Do you not remember how proud and glad we were when we come by a place of our own?

CONN The shelter was for Anne and yourself. What had I to do with it?

MAIRE The Moynihans are not the sort to make us feel strangers in the place.

CONN The place was your own, Maire, and you gave it to your sister rather than see her waiting years and years.

MAIRE I came to give it to her after I saw how hard I was on yourself.

CONN Listen, my jewel, even if the Moynihans had nothing to do with the place, what would Conn Hourican the fiddler be doing in this country?

MAIRE Ah, there are many you might play to; there are lots that know about music. There's Michael Gilpatrick and John Molloy—

CONN And that's all, Maire. MAIRE You might go to Flynn's an odd time.

CONN And what do they know about music in Flynn's? Young Corney Myles was up there a while ago, and you'd think, from what the men said, that there was never the like of Corney for playing, and the boy isn't three years at the fiddle,

MAIRE Father, stay here where the shelter is.

CONN Sure, I'd be getting ould, and staying in the chimney-corner, with no one to talk to me, for you'd be going to a place of your own, and Anne? after a while, would have too much to mind.

MAIRE The people here are kinder than you think.

CONN But what has Conn Hourican to do with them anyhow? The very greatest were glad of my playing, and were proud to know me.

MAIRE I know that, father.

CONN Well, one is always meeting new life upon the roads, and I want to spend the years I have before me going from place to place.

MAIRE (going to him) If you took to the roads, I'd think I ought to go with you, for we were always together.

CONN Ah, Maire, there are some that would keep you here.

MAIRE Do you know who would keep me here?

CONN Brian MacConnell is very fond of you.

MAIRE Do you know that, father?

CONN And I know that you are fond of Brian. (There is no answer) That my jewel may have luck and prosperity. (Goes towards room door, leaving Maire standing there) I'll be taking this fiddle, Maire.

MAIRE Oh, are we going on the roads?

CONN To Ardagh, Maire.

MAIRE To Ardagh.

CONN I'll go up now, and make ready.

He takes candle off table, and goes back towards room door.

MAIRE Oh, what do I know about Brian MacConnell, after all?

CONN Brian is wild, but he is free-handed.

MAIRE Wild and free-handed! Are all men like that? Wild and free-handed! But that's not the sort of man I want to look to now.

CONN That's nothing to Brian's discredit. MAIRE Ah, what do I know about Brian MacConnell, except that he's a man of quarrels and broken words?

Conn holds up his hand warningly. Brian MacConnell comes to door.

CONN (opening half-door) You're welcome, Brian.

BRIAN Thank you for the good word, Conn.

He comes in.

MAIRE You're welcome, Brian MacConnell.

CONN (taking candle off dresser) I was going up to the room to make ready, but Maire will be glad to speak to you. I knew you wouldn't let us go without wishing us the luck of the road.

Goes up to room. Maire goes and sits on settle.

MAIRE Brian MacConnell has come to us again.

BRIAN I'm before you again. Let me tell you what I was doing since I was here last.

MAIRE What were you doing, Brian? Making quarrels, may be?

BRIAN (startled) Why do you say that?

MAIRE I'm thinking that you were doing what would become you, Brian MacConnell, with the free hand and the wild heart.

BRIAN They were telling you about me?

MAIRE I know you, Brian MacConnell.

BRIAN You don't know how I care for you, or you couldn't talk to me like that. Many's the time I left the spade in the ground, and went across the bogs and the rushes, to think of you. You come between me and the work I'd be doing. Ay, and if Heaven opened out before me, you would come between me and Heaven itself.

MAIRE It's easy taking a girl's heart.

BRIAN And I long to have more than walls and a roof to offer you. I'd have jewels and gold for you. I'd have ships on the sea for you.

MAIRE It's easy to take a girl's heart with the words of a song.

BRIAN I'm building a house for you, Maire. I'm raising it day by day.

MAIRE You left me long by myself.

BRIAN It's often I came to see the light in the window.

MAIRE Brian, my father wants to go back to the roads.

Brian goes and sits by her.

BRIAN I know that Conn would like to go back.

MAIRE He wants to go on the roads, to go by himself from place to place.

BRIAN Maybe he has the right to go.

MAIRE He has the right to go. It's the life of a fiddler to be on the roads.

BRIAN But you won't go on the roads.

MAIRE Oh, what am I to do, Brian?

BRIAN Do you think of me at all, Maire?

MAIRE Indeed I think of you. Until to-day I'd neither laugh nor cry but on account of you.

BRIAN I'm building a house, and it will be white and fine, and it's for you that I'm building the house.

MAIRE You're going to ask for my promise.

BRIAN Give me your promise before you go to Ardagh.

Maire rises.

MAIRE If I gave you my promise now, I'd have great delight in coming back to this place again.

BRIAN You won't deny me, my jewel of love?

MAIRE Oh, I'm very fond of Aughnalee. I feel that I was reared in the place. I'd like to live all my life in the place.

BRIAN And why would you go from it? MAIRE You might come with us to Ardagh, Brian.

BRIAN Your father might stay with us when he'd be in this country.

MAIRE That's true; I'm glad to think on that.

BRIAN Give me your promise, Maire.

MAIRE We'll talk on the road. There's the blackbird. I'll hear him every evening on the road, and I'll think I'm a day nearer home.

BRIAN Sure you'd leave them all to come with me.

MAIRE Ay, I think I would. (She takes up a new kerchief, and puts it on her, standing before the mirror) Do you know where I saw you first, Brian?

BRIAN Where was it, Maire?

MAIRE In a field by the road. You were breaking a horse.

BRIAN I was always a good hand with a horse.

MAIRE The poor beast was covered with foam and sweat, and at last you made it still. I thought it was grand then.

She sings.

I know where I'm going, I know who's going with me, I know who I love, But the dear knows who I'll marry.

Are your brothers with you, Brian?

BRIAN Is it building with me?

MAIRE Building with you?

She sings.

Some say he's dark, I say he's bonny. He's the flower of the flock, My charming, coaxing Johnny.

BRIAN (with sombre passion) No. My brothers are not with me. I quarrelled with them all and I am nearly heart broken for what I did.

MAIRE Ah, Brian MacConnell, I don't know what to say to you at all.

BRIAN You'll give me your promise, Maire?

MAIRE Promise. I've no promise to give to any man.

BRIAN Remember that these days past I had only yourself to think on.

MAIRE There was never a man but failed me some time. They all leave me to face the world alone.

BRIAN You said that I might go with you as far as Ardagh.

MAIRE No. You're not to come. Myself and my father go to Ardagh by ourselves.

BRIAN How was I to know that you would take that quarrel to heart?

MAIRE I thought you were strong, but I see now that you are only a man who forces himself to harsh behaviour. I have my own way to go; my father wants to go back to the roads, and it's right that I should be with him, to watch over him.

BRIAN What shelter will you have on the road?

MAIRE I'll have the quiet of evening, and my own thoughts, and I'll follow the music; I'll laugh and hold up my head again.

BRIAN Maire Hourican, would you leave me?

MAIRE What can I do for you, Brian MacConnell?

Brian goes to settle, and puts his hands before his eyes. She goes to him.

BRIAN You have thought for your father, and you have no thought for me.

MAIRE Indeed I have thought for you.

BRIAN O Maire, my jewel, do you care for me at all?

She kisses him.

BRIAN Maire!

She rises.

MAIRE I'm going to call my father.

BRIAN You go to him, and you go from me.

MAIRE You are both my care: my father and yourself.

BRIAN What will become of me when you go?

MAIRE Isn't it right, Brian, that I should be with my father on the roads? Even if I was in your house, I would be thinking that I should watch over him.

BRIAN Then it's good-bye you'd be saying?

MAIRE Good-bye, Brian MacConnell.

BRIAN (at door) Good-bye, Maire Hourican; gold and jewels, ships on the sea, may you have them all.

He goes out. With a cry Maire follows him to the door. She stands before door for a minute, then she goes back to table, and throwing herself down, remains with her head buried in her hands. James Moynihan comes in. Maire raises her head, and remains looking before her. James comes to table, and puts flowers beside Maire.

JAMES We gathered them for you, Maire. They're the woodbine. We were saying that you would be glad of the flower of the road. (Maire puts her hand on the flowers. James goes to the fire) Anne remembers a good deal about the road. She minds of the grassy ditches, where the two of you used to catch the young birds.

MAIRE I mind of them too.

JAMES And the women that used to be with your mother, that used to tell you the stories.

MAIRE And the things we used to talk about after a story! There's the turn of the road, and who's waiting for you? If it's your sweetheart, what will you say to him?

JAMES I'm often taken with the thought of the road! Going to the fair on a bright morning, I'd often wish to leave everything aside and follow the road.

A fiddle is heard outside. Conn Hourican comes down, dressed for the road. He has on the greatcoat. He carries fiddle. He puts fiddle on dresser.

CONN What music is that, James?

JAMES Some of the boys are coming to meet you, and they have a fiddle with them.

CONN Well, now, that's friendly of the boys.

JAMES I'll go out now, and let them know that you're coming. (He goes to door) Brian MacConnell turned the other way, and Anne went after him.

He goes out.

CONN (anxiously) Why did Brian MacConnell go away?

MAIRE We didn't agree; no, not after all you said.

CONN Maybe we'll see Brian at Ardagh.

MAIRE How would he ever come back when I bid him go from me?

CONN You bid Brian go from you! (He goes to the window) And there was myself that had the mind to go on the road that I see stretched out before me.

MAIRE (going to him) You need never come back here.

CONN I'll come back with yourself.

MAIRE I remember the time when we were on the roads. I remember sights we used to see! Little towns here, and big towns far away, and always the road.

CONN And the lasting kindness of the road!

MAIRE There is no need for you to come back here, father.

CONN And would you follow the road?

MAIRE Go back to the fiddler's life, and I'll go back with you. Well see Anne and James at Ardagh, and we'll be at their marriage. (She turns round as though to take farewell of the house) It's right that this place should go to Anne. The house wasn't for you, and it wasn't for me either, I begin to think.

Anne comes in.

ANNE (with a cry) Maire, you are going on the roads!

MAIRE How do you know that?

ANNE You bid Brian MacConnell go from you, and where else would you go but on the roads?

She goes to the settle and throws herself down, her hands before her face. Maire puts cloak on. Conn goes to Anne. He takes her hands from her face and holds them.

CONN Don't be grieving that we're going from you, Anne. When you come back here again, your own care will begin. I know that you grieve for Maire going from you, and my own heart is unquiet for her. (He goes to dresser, takes fiddle and wraps it up. He puts hat on. Maire goes to settle, and sits beside Anne) Well, here's Conn Hourican the fiddler going on his travels again. No man knows how his own life will end; but them who have the gift have to follow the gift. I'm leaving this house behind me; and maybe the time will come when I'll be climbing the hills and seeing this little house with the tears in my eyes. I'm leaving the land behind me, too; but what's land after all against the music that comes from the far, strange places, when the night is on the ground, and the bird in the grass is quiet?

The fiddle is heard again. Conn Hourican goes to door. Maire embraces Anne again, rises and goes to door. Anne follows slowly. Conn goes out. Maire turns to Anne.

MAIRE Tell Brian MacConnell that when we meet again maybe we can be kinder to each other.

Maire Hourican goes out with Conn. Anne is left standing at the door in the dusk.


THE FIDDLER'S HOUSE was first produced on 21st March, 1907, by the Theatre of Ireland, in the Rotunda, Dublin, with the following cast: —

CONN HOURICAN Joseph Goggin MAIRE HOURICAN Maire MacShiubhlaigh ANNE HOURICAN Eileen O'Doherty BRIAN MACCONNELL Ed. Keegan JAMES MOYNIHAN P. MacShiubhlaigh.



MURTAGH COSGAR, a farmer MATT, his son SALLY, his daughter MARTIN DOURAS, a farmer CORNELIUS, his son ELLEN, his daughter A group of men, A group of boys and girls.

The scene is laid in the Irish Midlands, present time.


The interior of Murtagh Cosgar's. It is a large flagged kitchen with the entrance on the right. The dresser is below the entrance. There is a large fireplace in the back, and a room door to the left of the fireplace; the harness-rack is between room door and fireplace. The yard door is on the left. The table is down from the room door. There are benches around fireplace.

It is the afternoon of a May day. Sally Cosgar is kneeling, near the entrance chopping up cabbage-leaves with a kitchen-knife. She is a girl of twenty-five, dark, heavily built, with the expression of a half-awakened creature. She is coarsely dressed, and has a sacking apron. She is quick at work, and rapid and impetuous in speech. She is talking to herself.

SALLY Oh, you may go on grunting, yourself and your litter, it won't put me a bit past my own time. You oul' black baste of a sow, sure I'm slaving to you all the spring. We'll be getting rid of yourself and your litter soon enough, and may the devil get you when we lose you.

Cornelius comes to the door. He is a tall young man with a slight stoop. His manners are solemn, and his expression somewhat vacant.

CORNELIUS Good morrow, Sally. May you have the good of the day. (He comes in)

SALLY (impetuously) Ah, God reward you, Cornelius Douras, for coming in. I'm that busy keeping food to a sow and a litter of pigs that I couldn't get beyond the gate to see any one.

CORNELIUS (solemnly) You're a good girl, Sally. You're not like some I know. There are girls in this parish who never put hands to a thing till evening, when the boys do be coming in. Then they begin to stir themselves the way they'll be thought busy and good about a house.

SALLY (pleased and beginning to chop again with renewed energy) Oh, it's true indeed for you, Cornelius. There are girls that be decking themselves, and sporting are themselves all day.

CORNELIUS I may say that I come over to your father's, Murtagh Cosgar's house, this morning, thinking to meet the men.

SALLY What men, Cornelius Douras?

CORNELIUS Them that are going to meet the landlord's people with an offer for the land. We're not buying ourselves, unfortunately, but this is a great day—the day of the redemption, my father calls it—and I'd like to have some hand in the work if it was only to say a few words to the men.

SALLY It's a wonder Martin, your father isn't on the one errand with you.

CORNELIUS We came out together, but the priest stopped father and us on the road. Father Bartley wanted his advice, I suppose. Ah, it's a pity the men won't have some one like my father with them! He was in gaol for the Cause. Besides, he's a well-discoursed man, and a reading man, and, moreover, a man with a classical knowledge of English, Latin, and the Hibernian vernacular.

Martin Douras comes in. He is a man of about sixty, with a refined, scholarly look. His manner is subdued and nervous. He has a stoop, and is clean-shaven.

CORNELIUS I was just telling Sally here what a great day it is, father.

MARTIN DOURAS Ay, it's a great day, no matter what our own troubles may be. I should be going home again. (He takes a newspaper out of his pocket, and leaves it on the table)

CORNELIUS Wait for the men, father.

MARTIN DOURAS Maybe they'll be here soon. Is Murtagh in, Sally?

Cornelius takes the paper up, and begins to read it.

SALLY He's down at the bottoms, Martin.

MARTIN DOURAS He's going to Arvach Fair, maybe.

SALLY He is in troth.

MARTIN DOURAS I'll be asking him for a lift. He'll be going to the Fair when he come back from the lawyer's, I suppose? Ay, he'll be going to-night. (She gathers the chopped cabbage into her apron, and goes to the door)

SALLY (at the door) Cornelius.

Cornelius puts down the paper, and goes to the door. Sally goes out.


Cornelius goes to Martin.

SALLY (outside) Cornelius, give me a hand with this.

Cornelius turns again.

MARTIN DOURAS Cornelius, I want to speak to you.

Cornelius goes to him.

MARTIN DOURAS There is something on my mind, Cornelius.

CORNELIUS What is it, father?

MARTIN DOURAS It's about our Ellen. Father Bartley gave me news for her. "I've heard of a school that'll suit Ellen," says he. "It's in the County Leitrim."

CORNELIUS If it was in Dublin itself, Ellen is qualified to take it on. And won't it be grand to have one of our family teaching in a school?

MARTIN DOURAS (with a sigh) I wouldn't stand in her way, Cornelius; I wouldn't stand in her way. But won't it be a poor thing for an old man like me to have no one to discourse with in the long evenings? For when I'm talking with you, Cornelius, I feel like a boy who lends back all the marbles he's won, and plays again, just for the sake of the game.

CORNELIUS We were in dread of Ellen going to America at one time, and then she went in for the school. Now Matt Cosgar may keep her from the school. Maybe we won't have to go further than this house to see Ellen.

MARTIN DOURAS I'm hoping it'll be like that; but I'm in dread that Murtagh Cosgar will never agree to it. He's a hard man to deal with. Still Murtagh and myself will be on the long road to-night, and we might talk of it. I'm afeard of Ellen going.

CORNELIUS (at the door) It's herself that's coming here, father.

MARTIN DOURAS Maybe she has heard the news and is coming to tell us.

Ellen comes in. She has a shawl over her head which she lays aside. She is about twenty-five, slightly built, nervous, emotional.

ELLEN Is it only ourselves that's here?

MARTIN DOURAS Only ourselves. Did you get any news to bring you over, Ellen?

ELLEN No news. It was the shine of the day that brought me out; and I was thinking, too, of the girls that are going to America in the morning, and that made me restless.

Martin and Cornelius look significantly at each other.

MARTIN DOURAS And did you see Matt, Ellen?

ELLEN He was in the field and I coming up; but I did not wait for him, as I don't want people to see us together. (Restlessly) I don't know how I can come into this house, for it's always like Murtagh Cosgar. There's nothing of Matt in it at all. If Matt would come away. There are little labourers' houses by the side of the road. Many's the farmer's son became a labourer for the sake of a woman he cared for!

CORNELIUS And are you not thinking about the school at all, Ellen?

ELLEN I'll hear about it some time, I suppose.

MARTIN DOURAS You're right to take it that way, Ellen. School doesn't mean scholarship now. Many's the time I'm telling Cornelius that a man farming the land, with a few books on his shelf and a few books in his head, has more of the scholar's life about him than the young fellows who do be teaching in schools and teaching in colleges.

CORNELIUS That's all very well, father. School and scholarship isn't the one. But think of the word "Constantinople!" I could leave off herding and digging every time I think on that word!

MARTIN DOURAS Ah, it's a great word. A word like that would make you think for days. And there are many words like that.

ELLEN It's not so much the long words that we've to learn and teach now. When will you be home, father? Will Cornelius be with you?

MARTIN DOURAS Ellen, I have news for you. There is a school in Leitrim that Father Bartley can let you have.

ELLEN In Leitrim! Did you tell Matt about it?


Sally is heard calling "Cornelius." Cornelius goes to the door.

CORNELIUS Here's Matt now. The benefit of the day to you, Matt.

He stands aside to let Matt enter. Matt Cosgar is a young peasant of about twenty-eight. He is handsome and well-built. He is dressed in a trousers, shirt, and coat, and has a felt hat on. Cornelius goes out.

MATT (going to Ellen) You're welcome, Ellen. Good morrow, Martin. It's a great day for the purchase, Martin.

MARTIN DOURAS A great day, indeed, thank God.

MATT Ah, it's a great thing to feel the ownership of the land, Martin.

MARTIN DOURAS I don't doubt but it is.

MATT Look at the young apple-trees, Ellen. Walking up this morning, I felt as glad of them as a young man would be glad of the sweetheart he saw coming towards him.

ELLEN Ay, there's great gladness and shine in the day.

MATT It seems to trouble you.

ELLEN It does trouble me.


ELLEN Everything seems to be saying, "There's something here, there's something going."

MATT Ay, a day like this often makes you feel that way. It's a great day for the purchase though. How many years ought we to offer, Ellen?

Martin goes out.

ELLEN Twenty years, I suppose—-(suddenly) Matt!

MATT What is it, Ellen?

ELLEN I have got an offer of a school in the County Leitrim.

MATT I wish they'd wait, Ellen. I wish they'd wait till I had something to offer you.

ELLEN I'm a long time waiting here, Matt.

MATT Sure we're both young.

ELLEN This is summer now. There will be autumn in a month or two. The year will have gone by without bringing me anything.

MATT He'll be letting me have my own way soon, my father will.

ELLEN Murtagh Cosgar never let a child of his have their own way.

MATT When the land's bought out, he'll be easier to deal with.

ELLEN When he owns the land, he'll never let a son of his marry a girl without land or fortune.

MATT Ellen, Ellen, I'd lose house and land for you. Sure you know that, Ellen. My brothers and sisters took their freedom. They went from this house and away to the ends of the world. Maybe I don't differ from them so much. But I've put my work into the land, and I'm beginning to know the land. I won't lose it, Ellen. Neither will I lose you.

ELLEN O Matt, what's the land after all? Do you ever think of America? The streets, the shops, the throngs?

MATT The land is better than that when you come to know it, Ellen.

ELLEN May be it is.

MATT I've set my heart on a new house. Ay and he'll build one for us when he knows my mind.

ELLEN Do you think he'd build a new house for us, Matt? I could settle down if we were by ourselves. Maybe it's true that there are things stirring and we could begin a new life, even here.

MATT We can, Ellen, we can. Hush! father's without.

Martin Douras and Murtagh Cosgar are heard exchanging greetings. Then Murtagh comes in, Martin behind him. Murtagh Cosgar is about sixty. He is a hard, strong man, seldom-spoken, but with a flow of words and some satirical power. He is still powerful, mentally and physically. He is clean shaven, and wears a sleeved waistcoat, heavy boots, fell hat. He goes towards Ellen.

MURTAGH Good morrow to you. (Turning to Matt) When I get speaking to that Sally again, she'll remember what I say. Giving cabbage to the pigs, and all the bad potatoes in the house. And I had to get up in the clouds of the night to turn the cows out of the young meadow. No thought, no care about me. Let you take the harness outside and put a thong where there's a strain in it.

Murtagh goes to the fire. Matt goes to the harness-rack. Martin Douras and Ellen are at the door.

MARTIN DOURAS Ellen, I'll have news for you when I see you again. I've made up my mind to that.

ELLEN Are you going to the fair, father?

MARTIN DOURAS Ay, with Murtagh.

ELLEN God be with you, father. (She goes out)

MARTIN DOURAS What purchase are you thinking of offering, Murtagh?

MURTAGH COSGAR Twenty years.

MARTIN DOURAS It's fair enough. Oh, it's a great day for the country, no matter what our own troubles may be.

Matt has taken down the harness. He takes some of it up and goes out to yard.

MURTAGH COSGAR (with some contempt) It's a pity you haven't a share in the day after all.

MARTIN DOURAS Ay, it's a pity indeed.

Murtagh goes to the door.

MURTAGH COSGAR (with suppressed enthusiasm) From this day out we're planted in the soil.

MARTIN DOURAS Ay, we're planted in the soil.

MURTAGH COSGAR God, it's a great day.

Cornelius comes back.

CORNELIUS This is a memorial occasion, Murtagh Cosgar, and I wish you the felicitations of it. I met the delegates and I coming in, and I put myself at the head of them. It's the day of the redemption, Murtagh Cosgar.

Murtagh, without speaking, goes up to the room.

CORNELIUS He's gone up to get the papers. Father, we must give the men understanding for this business. They must demand the mineral rights. Here they are. Men of Ballykillduff, I greet your entrance.

Six men enter discussing.

FIRST MAN We'll leave it to Murtagh Cosgar. Murtagh Cosgar isn't a grazier or a shopkeeper.

SECOND MAN It's the graziers and shopkeepers that are putting a business head on this.

THIRD MAN If we're all on the one offer, we can settle it at the lawyer's.

FOURTH MAN Sure it's settled for twenty years on the first-term rents.

FIFTH MAN There are some here that would let it go as high as twenty-three.

SIXTH MAN What does Murtagh Cosgar say?

SOME OF THE MEN Well take the word from him.

MARTIN DOURAS He mentioned twenty years.

SECOND MAN Not as a limit, surely?

OTHER MEN We're not for any higher offer.

SECOND MAN Well, men, this is all I have to say. If you can get it for twenty, take it, and my blessing with it. But I want to be dealing with the Government, and not with landlords and agents. To have a straight bargain between myself and the Government, I'd put it up to twenty-three, ay, up to twenty-five years' purchase.

THIRD MAN More power to you, Councillor. There's some sense in that.

SIXTH MAN I'm with the Councillor.

FIRST MAN It's all very well for graziers and shopkeepers to talk, but what about the small farmer?

FOURTH MAN The small farmer. That's the man that goes under.

FIFTH MAN (knocking at the table) Murtagh Cosgar! Murtagh Cosgar!

CORNELIUS I tell you, men, that Murtagh Cosgar is in agreement with myself. Twenty years, I say, first term, no more. Let my father speak.

MARTIN DOURAS There's a great deal to be said on both sides, men.

FIRST MAN Here's Murtagh now.

MURTAGH COSGAR Twenty years first term, that's what I agreed to.

SECOND MAN And if they don't rise to that, Murtagh?

MURTAGH COSGAR Let them wait. We can wait. I won't be going with you, men. I had a few words with the agent about the turbary this morning, and maybe you're better without me.

FIRST MAN All right, Murtagh. We can wait.

FOURTH MAN We know our own power now.

FIFTH MAN Come on, men.

MURTAGH COSGAR If they don't rise to it, bide a while. We can make a new offer.

SECOND MAN We want to be settled by the Fall.

THIRD MAN The Councillor is right. We must be settled by the Fall.

SIXTH MAN A man who's a farmer only has little sense for a business like this.

SECOND MAN We'll make the offer, Murtagh Cosgar, and bide a while. But we must be settled this side of the Fall. We'll offer twenty years first term.

MURTAGH COSGAR Do, and God speed you.

CORNELIUS (to the men going out) I told you Murtagh Cosgar and myself are on the one offer. And Murtagh is right again when he says that you can bide your time. But make sure of the mineral rights, men; make sure of the mineral rights.

The men go out; Cornelius follows them.

MURTAGH COSGAR (with irony) Musha, but that's a well-discoursed lad. It must be great to hear the two of you at it.

MARTIN DOURAS God be good to Cornelius. There's little of the world's harm in the boy.

MURTAGH COSGAR He and my Sally would make a great match of it. She's a bright one, too.

MARTIN DOURAS Murtagh Cosgar, have you no feeling for your own flesh and blood?

MURTAGH COSGAR Too much feeling, maybe. (He stands at the door in silence. With sudden enthusiasm) Ah, but that's the sight to fill one's heart. Lands ploughed and spread. And all our own; all our own.

MARTIN DOURAS All our own, ay. But we made a hard fight for them.


MARTIN DOURAS Them that come after us will never see them as we're seeing them now.

MURTAGH COSGAR (turning round) Them that come after us. Isn't that a great thought, Martin Douras? and isn't it a great thing that we're able to pass this land on to them, and it redeemed for ever? Ay, and their manhood spared the shame that our manhood knew. Standing in the rain with our hats off to let a landlord—ay, or a landlord's dog-boy—pass the way!

MARTIN DOURAS (mournfully) May it be our own generation that will be in it. Ay, but the young are going fast; the young are going fast.

MURTAGH COSGAR (sternly) Some of them are no loss.

MARTIN DOURAS Ten of your own children went, Murtagh Cosgar.

MURTAGH COSGAR I never think of them. When they went from my control, they went from me altogether. There's the more for Matt.

MARTIN DOURAS (moistening his mouth, and beginning very nervously) Ay, Matt. Matt's a good lad.

MURTAGH COSGAR There's little fear of him leaving now.

MARTIN DOURAS (nervously) Maybe, maybe. But, mind you, Murtagh Cosgar, there are things—little things, mind you. Least, ways, what we call little things. And, after all, who are we to judge whether a thing—

MURTAGH COSGAR Is there anything on your mind, Martin Douras?

MARTIN DOURAS (hurriedly) No; oh, no. I was thinking—I was thinking, maybe you'd give me a lift towards Arvach, if you'd be going that way this night.


MARTIN DOURAS And we could talk about the land, and about Matt, too. Wouldn't it be a heart-break if any of our children went—because of a thing we might—

MURTAGH COSGAR (fiercely) What have you to say about Matt?

MARTIN DOURAS (stammering) Nothing except in a—in what you might call a general way. There's many a young man left house and land for the sake of some woman, Murtagh Cosgar.

MURTAGH COSGAR There's many a fool did it.

MARTIN DOURAS (going to door) Ay, maybe; maybe. I'll be going now, Murtagh.

MURTAGH COSGAR Stop! (clutching him) You know about Matt. What woman is he thinking of?

MARTIN DOURAS (frightened) We'll talk about it again, Murtagh. I said I'd be back.

MURTAGH COSGAR We'll talk about it now. Who is she? What name has she?

MARTIN DOURAS (breaking from him and speaking with sudden dignity) It's a good name, Murtagh Cosgar; it's my own name.

MURTAGH COSGAR Your daughter! Ellen! You're—

MARTIN DOURAS Ay, a good name, and a good girl.

MURTAGH COSGAR And do you think a son of mine would marry a daughter of yours?

MARTIN DOURAS What great difference is between us, after all?

MURTAGH COSGAR (fiercely) The daughter of a man who'd be sitting over his fire reading his paper, and the clouds above his potatoes, and the cows trampling his oats. (Martin is beaten down) Do you know me at all, Martin Douras? I came out of a little house by the roadway and built my house on a hill. I had many children. Coming home in the long evenings, or kneeling still when the prayers would be over, I'd have my dreams. A son in Aughnalee, a son in Ballybrian, a son in Dunmore, a son of mine with a shop, a son of mine saying Mass in Killnalee. And I have a living name—a name in flesh and blood.

MARTIN DOURAS God help you, Murtagh Cosgar.

MURTAGH COSGAR But I've a son still. It's not your daughter he'll be marrying. (He strides to the door and calls Matt)

MARTIN DOURAS (going to him) Murtagh Cosgar—for God's sake—we're both old men, Murtagh Cosgar.

MURTAGH COSGAR You've read many stories, Martin Douras, and you know many endings. You'll see an ending now, and it will be a strong ending, and a sudden ending.

Matt comes in.

MURTAGH COSGAR You're wanted here.

MATT I heard you call. (He sits on table) So they're sticking to the twenty years.

MARTIN DOURAS (eagerly) Twenty years, Matt, and they'll get it for twenty. O, it's a great day for you both! Father and son, you come into a single inheritance. What the father wins the son wields.

MURTAGH COSGAR What the father wins, the son wastes.

MATT What's the talk of father and son?

MARTIN DOURAS They're the one flesh and blood. There's no more strife between them than between the right hand and the left hand.

MURTAGH COSGAR (to Matt) We were talking about you. We were fixing a match for you.

MATT (startled, looking at Martin Douras) Fixing a match for me? (He rises)

MURTAGH COSGAR Ay, Matt. Don't you think it's time to be making a match for you?

MATT (sullenly, going to the door) Maybe it is. When you have chosen the woman, call. I'll be without.

MURTAGH COSGAR (going to him) We haven't chosen yet. But it won't be Martin Douras' daughter, anyhow.

MATT Stop. You drove all your living children away, except Sally and myself. You think Sally and myself are the one sort.

MURTAGH COSGAR (tauntingly) Martin's daughter, Corney's sister. That's the girl for you!

MATT We're not the one sort, I tell you. Martin Douras, isn't he a foolish old man that would drive all his children from him? What would his twenty years' purchase be to him then?

MURTAGH COSGAR It wasn't for my children I worked. No, no; thank God; it wasn't for my children I worked. Go, if you will. I can be alone.

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