1903: “In the Shadow of the Glen” first performed

In the Shadow of the Glen, also know as The Shadow of the Glen, is a one-act play written by the Irish playwright J.M. (John Millington) Synge and first performed at the Molesworth Hall, Dublin, on October 8, 1903.

Syngeis credited as “an author whose work was later to make the name of the Irish theatre famous all over the world.”

The play was the first of Synge’s plays to be performed on stage.  It is set in an isolated cottage in County Wicklow in what was they the present day (c. 1903).  A 30 minute black & white Television short drama by the British Broadcasting Corporation in 1948 and again in 1954.

Plot Synopsis:   A tramp seeking shelter in the Burkes’ isolated farmhouse  finds Nora (a young wife) tending to the corpse of Dan (an elderly farmer).  Nora goes out to find Michael (a youthful shepherd), and Dan reveals to the tramp that his death is a mere ruse.  He plays dead again when Nora and Michael return, but leaps up in protest when Michael proposes to Nora.   Dan kicks Nora out to wander the roads and she leaves with the tramp, who promises her a life of freedom.

Full text of “In the Shadow of the Glen” courtesy of


The play is based on a story Synge heard in the Aran Islands, Ireland.

The Aran Islands – Galway Ireland

It relates to an old man who wanted to detect the immoral ways of his young wife.  So he feigned death.  The woman went out after entrusting the dead body to a stranger.  In half an hour his wife came back and a young man along with her.  Well, she gave him his tea and she told him he was tired and he would do right to go and lie down in the bedroom.

The young man went in and the woman sat down to watch by the dead man.  A while after she got up and “Stranger,” says she, “I’m going in to get the candle out of the room; I’m thinking the young man will be asleep by this time.”  She went into the bedroom, but the devil a bit of her came back.

Then the dead man got up and he took one stick and he gave the other to myself.  We went in and we saw them lying together with her head on his arm.  The dead man hit him a blow  with the stick  so that the blood out of him leaped up and hit the gallery.  That is my story.

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Sep 13 2021


All Day

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