New Irish Comedies
Lady Augusta Gregory
Part 3 out of 3
_First Hag:_ It is not to humour her the Union men will, and they
carrying her to where they will sink her into the ground, unless it
might be McDonough would come back, and he having money in his hand,
to bring in some keeners and some hired men.
_Second Hag:_ He to come back at this time it is certain he will
bring a fist-full of money.
_First Hag:_ What makes you say that to be certain?
_Second Hag:_ A troop of sheep-shearers that are on the west side
of the fair, looking for hire from the grass farmers. I heard them
laying down they met with McDonough at the big shearing at
_First Hag:_ What day was that?
_Second Hag:_ This day week for the world.
_First Hag:_ He has time and plenty to be back in Galway ere this.
_Second Hag:_ Great dancing they had and a great supper at the
time the shearing was at an end and the fleeces lodged in the big
sacks. It is McDonough played his music through the night-time. It
is what I heard them saying, "He went out of that place weightier
than he went in."
_First Hag:_ He is a great one to squeeze the pipes surely. There
is no place ever he went into but he brought the whip out of it.
_Second Hag:_ His father was better again, they do be saying. It
was from the other side he got the gift.
_First Hag:_ He did, and from beyond the world, where he
befriended some in the forths of the Danes. It was they taught him
their trade. I heard tell, he to throw the pipes up on top of the
rafters, they would go sounding out tunes of themselves.
_Second Hag:_ He could do no more with them than what McDonough
himself can do--may ill luck attend him! It is inhuman tunes he does
be making; unnatural they are.
_First Hag:_ He is a great musician surely.
_Second Hag:_ There is no person can be safe from him the time he
will put his "come hither" upon them. I give you my word he set
myself dancing reels one time in the street, and I making an attack
on him for keeping the little lads miching from school. That was a
great scandal to put upon a decent woman.
_First Hag:_ He to be in the fair to-day and to take the fancy,
you would hear the nailed boots of the frieze-coated man footing
steps on the sidewalk.
_Second Hag:_ You would, and it's likely he'd play a notion into
the skulls of the pampootied boys from Aran, they to be kings of
France or of Germany, till they'd go lift their head to the clouds
and go knocking all before them. And the police it is likely
laughing with themselves, as if listening to the talk of the
blackbird would be perched upon a blessed bush.
_First Hag:_ I wonder he did not come. Could it be he might be
made away with for the riches he brought from Cregroostha? It would
be a strange thing now, he to be lying and his head broke, at the
butt of a wall, and the woman he thought the whole world of to be
getting her burial from the workhouse.
_(A sound of pipes.)_
_Second Hag:_ Whist, I tell you! It's the sound of the pipes. It
is McDonough, it is no other one.
_First Hag:_ _(Getting up.)_ I'm in dread of him coming in the
house. He is a hasty man and wicked, and he vexed. What at all will
he say and she being dead before him? Whether or no, it will be a
sharp grief to him, she to scatter and to go. He might give me a
backstroke and drive me out from the door.
_Second Hag:_ Let you make an attack upon himself before he will
have time to make his own attack.
_McDonough:_ _(Coming in.)_ Catherine! Where is she? Where is
_First Hag:_ Is it readying the dinner before you, or wringing out
a shirt for the Sunday like any good slave of a wife, you are used
to find your woman, McDonough?
_McDonough:_ What call would she have stopping in the house with
the withered like of yourself? It is not to the crabbed talk of a
peevish hag a handsome young woman would wish to be listening and
sport and funning being in the fair outside.
_First Hag:_ Go look for her in the fair so, if it is gadding up
and down is her habit, and you being gone out from her sight.
_McDonough: (Shaking her.)_ Tell me out, where is she?
_First Hag:_ Tell out what harbour were you yourself in from the
day you left Cregroostha?
_McDonough:_ Is it that she got word?--or that she was tired
waiting for me?
_First Hag:_ She is gone away from you, McDonough.
_McDonough:_ That is a lie, a black lie.
_First Hag:_ Throwing a lie in a decent woman's face will not
bring you to the truth.
_McDonough:_ Is it what you are laying down that she went away
with some other man? Say that out if you have courage, and I'll
wring your yellow windpipe.
_First Hag:_ Leave your hand off me and open the room door, and
you will see am I telling you any lie.
_McDonough: (Goes to door, then stops.)_ She is not in it. She
would have come out before me, and she hearing the sound of the pipes.
_First Hag:_ It is not the sound of the pipes will rouse her, or
any sound made in this world at all.
_McDonough: (Trembling.)_ What is it?
_First Hag:_ She is gone and she is not living.
_McDonough:_ Is it to die she did? _(Clutches her.)_
_First Hag:_ Yesterday, and the bells ringing, she turned her face
to the south and died away. It was at the hour of noon I knew and
was aware she was gone. A great loss it to be at the time of the fair,
and all the lodgers that would have come into the house.
_McDonough:_ It is not truth. What would ail her to die?
_First Hag:_ The makings of a child that came before its time, God
save the mark! She made a bad battle at the last.
_McDonough:_ What way did it fail you to send me out messengers
seeking me when you knew her to be done and dying?
_First Hag:_ I thought she would drag another while. There was no
time for the priest itself to overtake her, or to put the little
dress of the Virgin in her hand at the last gasp of death.
_McDonough goes into the room. He comes out as if affrighted, leans
his head against the wall, and breaks into a prayer in Irish:_
_"An Athair tha in Naomh, dean trocaire orainn! A Dia Righ an Domhain,
dean trocaire orainn! A Mhuire Mathair Dia, dean trocaire orainn!"_
_Second Hag:_ _(Venturing near.)_ Do not go fret after her,
McDonough. She could not go through the world forever, and
travelling the world. It might be that trouble went with her.
_McDonough:_ Get out of that, you hags, you witches you! You
croaking birds of ill luck! It is much if I will leave you in the
living world, and you not to have held back death from her!
_Second Hag:_ That you may never be cross till you will meet with
your own death! What way could any person do that?
_McDonough:_ Get out the door and it will be best for you!
_Second Hag:_ You are talking fool's talk and giving out words
that are foolishness! There is no one at all can put away from his
road the bones and the thinness of death.
_McDonough:_ I to have been in it he would not have come under the
lintel! Ugly as he is and strong, I would be able for him and would
wrestle with him and drag him asunder and put him down! Before I
would let him lay his sharp touch on her I would break and would
crush his naked ribs, and would burn them to lime and scatter them!
_First Hag:_ Where is the use raving? It is best for you to turn
your hand to the thing has to be done.
_McDonough:_ You to have stood in his path he might have brought
you away in her place! That much would be no great thing to ask, and
your life being dead and in ashes.
_First Hag:_ Quieten yourself now where it was the will of God.
She herself made no outcry and no ravings. I did my best for her,
laying her out and putting a middling white sheet around her. I went
so far as to smoothen her hair on the two sides of her face.
_McDonough: (Turning to inner door.)_ Is it that you are gone from
me, Catherine, you that were the blossom of the branch!
_(Old woman moans.)_
It is a bad case you to have gone and to have left me as lonesome
after you as that no one ever saw the like!
_(The old woman moans after each sentence.)_
I to bring you travelling you were the best traveller, and the best
stepper, and the best that ever faced the western blast, and the
waves of it blowing from you the shawl! I to be sore in the heart
with walking you would make a smile of a laugh. I would not feel the
road having your company; I would walk every whole step of Ireland.
I to bring you to the dance-house you would dance till you had them
all tired, the same in the late of the day as in the commencement!
Your steps following quick on one another the same as hard rain on a
flagstone! They could not find your equal in all Ireland or in the
whole ring of Connemara!
What way did it fail me to see the withering of the branches on
every bush, as it is certain they withered the time laughter died
with your laugh? The cold of winter has settled on the hearth. My
heart is closed up with trouble!
_First Hag:_ It is best for us shut the door and to keep out the
noises of the fair.
_McDonough:_ Ah, what sort at all are the people of the fair, to
be doing their bargaining and clutching after their luckpenny, and
she being stark and quiet!
_First Hag:_ She has to be buried ere evening. There was a
messenger of a clerk came laying that down.
_McDonough:_ May ill luck attend him! Is it that he thinks she
that is gone has no person belonging to her to wake her through the
_First Hag:_ He sent his men to coffin her. She will be brought
away in the heel of the day.
_McDonough:_ It is a great wake I will give her. It would not be
for honour she to go without that much. Cakes and candles and drink
and tobacco! The table of this house is too narrow. It is from the
neighbours we should borrow tables.
_First Hag:_ That cannot be. It is what the man said, "This is a
common lodging-house. It is right to banish the dead from the living."
He has the law with him, and custom. There is no use you thinking to
go outside of that.
_McDonough:_ My lasting grief it will be I not to get leave to
show her that respect!
_First Hag:_ "There will a car be sent," he said, "and two boys
from the Union for to bear her out from the house."
_McDonough:_ Men from the Union, are you saying? I would not give
leave to one of them to put a hand anigh or anear her! It is not
their car will bring her to the grave. That would be the most pity
in the world!
_First Hag:_ You have no other way to bring her on her road. It is
best for you give in to their say.
_McDonough:_ Where are the friends and the neighbours that they
would not put a hand tinder her?
_First Hag:_ They are after making their refusal. She was not well
liked in Galway. There is no one will come to her help.
_McDonough:_ Is that truth, or is it lies you have made up for my
_First Hag:_ It is no lie at all. It is as sure as the winter's
frost. You have no one to draw to but yourself.
_McDonough:_ It is mad jealous the women of Galway were and wild
with anger, and she coming among them, that was seventeen times
better than their best! My bitter grief I ever to have come next or
near them, or to have made music for the lugs or for the feet of
wide crooked hags! That they may dance to their death to the devil's
pipes and be the disgrace of the world! It is a great slur on
Ireland and a great scandal they to have made that refusing! That
the Corrib River may leave its merings and rise up out of its banks
till the waves will rise like mountains over the town and smother it,
with all that is left of its tribes!
_First Hag:_ Be whist now, or they will be angered and they
hearing you outside in the fair.
_McDonough:_ Let their day not thrive with the buyers and the
sellers in the fair! The curse of mildew on the tillage men, that
every grain of seed they have sowed may be rotten in the ridges, and
the grass corn blasted from the east before the latter end of harvest!
The curse of the dead on the herds driving cattle and following after
markets and fairs! My own curse on the big farmers slapping and
spitting in their deal! That a blood murrain may fall upon their
bullocks! That rot may fall upon their flocks and maggots make them
their pasture and their prey between this and the great feast of
Christmas! It is my grief every hand in the fair not to be set
shaking and be crookened, where they were not stretched out in
friendship to the fair-haired woman that is left her lone within
_Second Hag: (At door.)_ Is it a niggard you are grown to be,
McDonough, and you with riches in your hand? Is it against a new
wedding you are keeping your pocket stiff, or to buy a house and an
estate, that it fails you to call in hired women to make a right
keening, and a few decent boys to lift her through the streets?
_McDonough:_ I to have money or means in my hand, I would ask no
help or be beholden to any one at all.
_Second Hag:_ If you had means, is it? I heard by true telling
that you have money and means. "At the sheep-shearers' dance a high
lady held the plate for the piper; a sovereign she put in it out of
her hand, and there was no one of the big gentry but followed her.
There never was seen so much riches in any hall or home." Where now
is the fifty gold sovereigns you brought away from Cregroostha?
_McDonough:_ Where is it?
_Second Hag:_ Is it that you would begrudge it to the woman is
_McDonough:_ You know well I would not begrudge it.
_First Hag:_ A queer thing you to speak so stiff and to be running
down all around you, and your own pocket being bulky the while.
_McDonough:_ _(Turning out pocket.)_ It is as slack and as empty
as when I went out from this.
_Second Hag:_ You could not have run through that much.
_McDonough:_ Not a red halfpenny left, or so much as the image of
_First Hag:_ Is it robbed and plundered you were, and you walking
_McDonough:_ _(Sitting down and rocking himself.)_ I wish to my
God it was some robber stripped and left me bare! Robbed and
plundered! I was that, and by the worst man and the unkindest that
ever was joined to a woman or lost a woman, and that is myself.
_First Hag:_ Is it to lose it unknownst you did?
_McDonough:_ What way did I lose it, is it? I lost it knowingly
and of my own will. Thrown on counters, thrown on the drink-house
floor, given for spirits, given for porter, thrown for drink for
friends and acquaintances, for strangers and strollers and vagabonds.
Scattered in the parish of Ardrahan and at Labane cross. Tramps and
schemers lying drunk and dead drunk at the butt of every wall.
_(Buries head in his hands.)_
_First Hag:_ That is what happened the gold yourself and the pipes
had won? You made no delay doing that much. You have a great wrong
done to the woman inside, where you left her burying bare.
_Second Hag:_ She to be without a farthing dip for her corpse, and
you after lavishing gold.
_First Hag:_ You have a right to bruise your knees making
repentance, you that lay on the one pillow with her. You to be
putting curses upon others and making attacks on them! I would make
no complaint, you to be naked at your own burying and at the very
hour of death, and the rain falling down on your head.
_McDonough:_ Little I mind what happens me. There is no word you
can put out of your mouth can do me any injury at all. Oh, Catherine,
it is best for me go hang myself out of a tree, and my carcass to be
torn by savage dogs that went famished through a great length of time,
and my bones left without a token or a flag or a headstone, and my
name that was up at one time to be forgotten out of mind!
_(He bursts out sobbing.)_
_First Hag:_ The shadows should be lengthening in the street. Look
out would you see the car to be coming.
_Second Hag:_ It was a while ago at the far corner of the fair.
They were but waiting for the throng to lessen.
_First Hag:_ They are making too much delay.
_Second Hag:_ I see a hint of the livery of the poorhouse coming
through the crowd.
_First Hag:_ The men of the Union are coming to bring her away,
McDonough. There is nothing more to be done. She will get her burial
from the rates.
_McDonough:_ Oh, Catherine, Catherine! Is it I myself have brought
you to that shame and that disgrace!
_Second Hag:_ You are making too much of it. Little it will signify,
and we to be making clay, who was it dug a hole through the nettles
or lifted down the sods over our head.
_First Hag:_ That is so. What signifies she to be followed or to
be going her lone, and her eyes being shut to the world?
_McDonough:_ Is that the thought ye have within ye, ye Galway hags?
It is easy known it is in a trader's town you were bred, and in a
street among dealers.
_First Hag:_ I was but saying it does not signify.
_McDonough:_ But I say it does signify! I will tell that out to
you and the world! That might be the thought of a townsman or a
trader, or a rich merchant itself that had his estate gained by
trafficking, for that is a sort does be thinking more of what they
can make out of the living than of keeping a good memory of the dead!
_First Hag:_ There are worthier men than yourself, maybe, in
storehouses and in shops.
_McDonough:_ But I am of the generations of Orpheus, and have in
me the breed of his master! And of Raftery and Carolan and O'Daly
and all that made sounds of music from this back to the foundations
of the earth! And as to the rich of the world, I would not humble my
head to them. Let them have their serving men and their labourers
and messengers will do their bidding. But the servant I myself
command is the pipes that draws its breath from the four winds, and
from a wind is beyond them again, and at the back of the winds of
the air. She was a wedded woman and a woman having my own gold ring
on her hand, and my own name put down with hers in the book. But she
to have been a shameless woman as ye make her out to be, and sold
from tinker to tinker on the road it is all one! I will show Galway
and the world that it does signify; that it is not fitting
McDonough's wife to travel without company and good hands under her
and good following on the road. Play now, pipes, if you never played
before! Call to the keeners to follow her with screams and beating
of the hands and calling out! Set them crying now with your sound
and with your notes, as it is often you brought them to the
_(Goes out and plays a lament outside.)_
_First Hag: (Looking out.)_ It is queer and wild he is, cutting
his teeth and the hair standing on him.
_Second Hag:_ Some high notion he has, calling them to show honour
to her as if she was the Queen of the Angels.
_First Hag:_ To draw to silence the whole fair did. Every person
is moving towards this house.
_(A murmur as of people. McDonough comes in, stands at door, looking
_McDonough:_ I squeeze the pipes as a challenge to the whole of
the fair, gentle noble and simple, the poor and the high up. Come
hither and cry Catherine McDonough, give a hand to carry her to the
grave! Come to her aid, tribes of Galway, Lynches and Blakes and
Frenches! McDonough's pipes give you that command, that have learned
the lamentation of the Danes.
Come follow her on the road, trades of Galway, the fishermen, and
the carpenters, and the weavers! It is by no short road we will
carry her that never will walk any road from this out! By
Williams-gate, beside Lynch's gallows, beside the gaol of the
hangings, the salmon will make their leap as we pass!
_Men at Door:_ We will. We will follow her, McDonough.
_Others:_ Give us the first place.
_Others:_ We ourselves will carry her!
_McDonough:_ Faith, Catherine, you have your share and your choice
this day of fine men, asking to carry you and to lend you their
I will give no leave to traffickers to put their shoulder under you,
or to any that made a refusal, or any seaside man at all.
I will give leave to no one but the sheep-shearers from Eserkelly,
from Moneen and Cahirlinny and the whole stretch of Cregroostha. It
is they have friendship for music, it is they have a wish for my
_(Sheep-shearers come in. They are dressed in white flannel. Each
has a pair of shears at his side. The first carries a crook.)_
_First Sheep-shearer:_ Is it within there she is, McDonough?
_First Hag:_ Go in through the door. The boards are around her and
a clean quilt over them. Have a care not to leave down your hands on
it, and they maybe being soiled with the fair.
_(They take off their hats and go in.)_
_McDonough: (Turning to her door.)_ If you got no great honour
from your birth up, and went barefoot through the first of your youth,
you will get great respect now and will be remembered in the times
There is many a lady dragging silk skirts through the lawns and the
flower knots of Connacht, will get no such grand gathering of people
at the last as you are getting on this day.
It is the story of the burying of McDonough's wife will be written
in the book of the people!
_(Sheep-shearers appear at inner door. McDonough goes out,
squeezing the pipes. Triumphant music is heard from outside.)_
THE BOGIE MEN
A message sent to America from Dublin that our Theatre had been
"driven out with hisses"; an answering message from New York that
the _Playboy_, the cause of battle, was now "as dead as a doornail,"
set me musing with renewed delight on our incorrigible genius for
myth-making, the faculty that makes our traditional history a
perpetual joy, because it is, like the Sidhe, an eternal
At Philadelphia, the city of trees, where in spite of a day in the
police court and before a judge, and the arrest of our players at
the suit not of a Puritan but a publican, and the throwing of
currant cake with intent to injure, I received very great personal
kindness, a story of his childhood told by my host gave me a fable
on which to hang my musings; and the Dublin enthusiast and the
American enthusiast who interchanged so many compliments and made so
brave a show to one another, became Dermot and Timothy, "two
harmless drifty lads," the _Bogie Men_ of my little play. They were
to have been vagrants, tatterdemalions, but I needed some dress the
change of which would change their whole appearance in a moment, and
there came to mind the chimney sweepers of my childhood.
They used to come trotting the five miles from Loughrea, little
fellows with blue eyes shining out from soot-black faces, wearing
little soot-coloured smocks. Our old doctor told us he had gone to
see one of them who was sick, and had found him lying in a box, with
soot up to his chin as bedding and blanket.
Not many years ago a decent looking man came to my door, with I
forget what request. He told me he had heard of ghosts and fairies,
but had never met with anything worse than himself, but that he had
had one great fright in his lifetime. Its cause had been the
squealing and outcry made by two rats caught in one trap, that had
come clattering down a flight of steps one time when he was a little
lad, and had come sweeping chimneys to Roxborough.
[Music: AIR OF "ALL AROUND MY HAT I WILL WEAR A GREEN RIBBON!"]
THE FULL MOON
It had sometimes preyed on my mind that _Hyacinth Halvey_ had been
left by me in Cloon for his lifetime, bearing the weight of a
character that had been put on him by force. But it failed me to
release him by reason, that "binds men to the wheel"; it took the
call of some of those unruly ones who give in to no limitations, and
dance to the sound of music that is outside this world, to bring him
out from "roast and boiled and all the comforts of the day." Where he
is now I do not know, but anyway he is free.
Tannian's dog has now become a protagonist; and Bartley Fallon and
Shawn Early strayed in from the fair green of _Spreading the News_,
and Mrs. Broderick from the little shop where _The Jackdaw_ hops on
the counter, as witnesses to the miracle that happened in Hyacinth's
own inside; and it is likely they may be talking of it yet; for the
talks of Cloon are long talks, and the histories told there do not
lessen or fail.
As to Davideen's song, I give the air of it below. The Queen Anne in
it was no English queen, but, as I think, that Aine of the old gods
at whose hill mad dogs were used to gather, and who turned to grey
the yellow hair of Finn of the Fianna of Ireland. It is with some
thought of her in their mind that the history-tellers say "Anne was
not fair like the Georges but very bad and a tyrant. She tyrannised
over the Irish. She was very wicked; oh! very wicked indeed!"
[Music: AIR OF "THE HEATHER BROOM!"]
I find some bald little notes I made before writing _Coats_.
"Hazel is astonished Mineog can take such a thing to heart, but it
is quite different when he himself is off ended." "The quarrel is so
violent you think it can never be healed, but the ordinary
circumstances of life force reconciliation. They are the most
powerful force of all." And then a quotation from Nietzsche,
"A good war justifies every cause."
In a lecture I gave last year on playwriting I said I had been
forced to write comedy because it was wanted for our theatre, to put
on at the end of the verse plays, but that I think tragedy is easier.
For, I said, tragedy shows humanity in the grip of circumstance, of
fate, of what our people call "the thing will happen," "the Woman in
the Stars that does all." There is a woman in the stars they say,
who is always hurting herself in one way or other, and according to
what she is doing at the hour of your birth, so will it happen to
you in your lifetime, whether she is hanging herself or drowning
herself or burning herself in the fire. "And," said an old man who
was telling me this, "I am thinking she was doing a great deal of
acting at the time I myself made my start in the world." Well, you
put your actor in the grip of this woman, in the claws of the cat.
Once in that grip you know what the end must be. You may let your
hero kick or struggle, but he is in the claws all the time, it is a
mere question as to how nearly you will let him escape, and when you
will allow the pounce. Fate itself is the protagonist, your actor
cannot carry much character, it is out of place. You do not want to
know the character of a wrestler you see trying his strength at a
In writing a little tragedy, _The Gaol Gate_, I made the scenario in
three lines, "He is an informer; he is dead; he is hanged." I wrote
that play very quickly. My two poor women were in the clutch of the
Woman in the Stars.... I knew what I was going to do and I was able
to keep within those three lines. But in comedy it is different.
Character comes in, and why it is so I cannot explain, but as soon
as one creates a character, he begins to put out little feet of his
own and take his own way.
I had been meditating for a long time past on the mass of advice
that is given one by friends and well-wishers and relations, advice
that would be excellent if the giver were not ignorant so often of
the one essential in the case, the one thing that matters. But there
is usually something out of sight, of which the adviser is unaware,
it may be something half mischievously hidden from him, it may be
that "secret of the heart with God" that is called religion. In the
whole course of our work at the theatre we have been I may say
drenched with advice by friendly people who for years gave us the
reasons why we did not succeed.... All their advice, or at least
some of it, might have been good if we had wanted to make money, to
make a common place of amusement. Our advisers did not see that what
we wanted was to create for Ireland a theatre with a base of realism,
with an apex of beauty. Well, last summer I made a fable for this
meditation, this emotion, at the back of my mind to drive.
I pictured to myself, for I usually first see a play as a picture, a
young man, a mere lad, very sleepy in the daytime. He was surrounded
by people kind and wise, who lamented over his rags and idleness and
assured him that if he didn't get up early and do his work in the
daytime he would never know the feel of money in his hand. He
listens to all their advice, but he does not take it, because he
knows what they do not know, that it is in the night time precisely
he is filling his pocket, in the night when, as I think, we receive
gifts from the unseen. I placed him in the house of a miser, an old
man who had saved a store of gold. I called the old man Damer, from
a folk-story of a chandler who had bought for a song the kegs of
gold the Danes had covered with tallow as a disguise when they were
driven out of Ireland, and who had been rich and a miser ever after.
I did not mean this old man, Damer, to appear at all. He was to be
as invisible as that Heaven of which we are told the violent take it
by force. My intention at first was that he should be robbed, but
then I saw robbery would take too much sympathy from my young lad,
and I decided the money should be won by the lesser sin of
cardplaying, but still behind the scenes. Then I thought it would
have a good stage effect if old Damer could just walk once across
the stage in the background. His relations might have come into the
house to try and make themselves agreeable to him, and he would
appear and they would vanish. ... Damer comes in, and contrary to
my intention, he begins to find a tongue of his own. He has made his
start in the world, and has more than a word to say. How that play
will work out I cannot be sure, or if it will ever be finished at all.
But if ever it is I am quite sure it will go as Damer wants, not as I
That is what I said last winter, and now in harvest time the play is
all but out of my hands. But as I foretold, Damer has taken
possession of it, turning it to be as simple as a folk-tale, where
the innocent of the world confound the wisdom of the wise. The idea
with which I set out has not indeed quite vanished, but is as if
"extinct and pale; not darkness, but light that has become dead."
As to Damer's changes of mood, it happened a little time ago, when
the play was roughly written, but on its present lines, that I took
up a volume of Montaigne, and found in it his justification by high
"Verilie it is not want but rather plentie that causeth avarice. I
will speake of mine owne experience concerning this subject. I have
lived in three kinds of condition since I came out of my infancie.
The first time, which continued well nigh twentie yeares, I have
past it over as one who had no other means but casual without any
certaine maintenance or regular prescription. My expenses were so
much the more carelessly laid out and lavishly employed, by how much
more they wholly depended on fortunes rashnesse and exhibition. I
never lived so well at ease.... My second manner of life hath been to
have monie: which when I had once fingred, according to my condition
I sought to hoorde up some against a rainy day.... My minde was ever
on my halfe-penny; my thoughts ever that way. Of commoditie I had
little or nothing.... And after you are once accustomed, and have
fixed your thoughts upon a heape of monie, it is no longer at your
service; you dare not diminish it; it is a building which if you
touch or take any part from it, you will think it will all fall. And
I should sooner pawne my clothes or sell a horse, with lesse care
and compulsion than make a breach into that beloved purse which I
kept in store.... I was some yeares of the same humour: I wot not
what good Demon did most profitably remove me from it, like to the
Siracusan, and made me to neglect my sparing.... I live from hand to
mouth, from day to day, and have I but to supplie my present and
ordinarie needs I am satisfied.... And I singularly gratifie myself
this correction came upon me in an age naturally inclined to
covetousnesse, and that I am free from that folly so common and
peculiar to old men, and the most ridiculous of all humane follies.
Feraulez who had passed through both fortunes and found that
encrease of goods was no encrease of appetite to eat, to sleepe or
to embrace his wife; and who on the other side felt heavily on his
shoulders the importunitie of ordering and directing his
Oeconomicall affairs as it doth on mine, determined with himselfe to
content a poore young man, his faithfull friend, greedily gaping
after riches, and frankly made him a present donation of all his
great and excessive riches, always provided hee should undertake to
entertaine and find him, honestly and in good sort, as his guest and
friend. In which estate they lived afterwards most happily and
mutually content with the change of their condition."
And so I hope it may come to pass with the remaining years of Simon
and of Damer.
In my childhood there was every year at my old home, Roxborough, or,
as it is called in Irish, Cregroostha, a great sheep-shearing that
lasted many days. On the last evening there was always a dance for
the shearers and their helpers, and two pipers used to sit on chairs
placed on a corn-bin to make music for the dance. One of them was
always McDonough. He was the best of all the wandering pipers who
went about from house to house. When, at my marriage, I moved from
the barony of Dunkellin to the neighbouring barony of Kiltartan, he
came and played at the dance given to the tenants in my honour, and
he came and played also at my son's coming of age. Not long after
that he died. The last time I saw him he came to ask for a loan of
money to take the train to Ennis, where there was some fair or
gathering of people going on, and I would not lend to so old a friend,
but gave him a half-sovereign, and we parted with kindly words. He
was so great a piper that in the few years since his death myths
have already begun to gather around him. I have been told that his
father was taken into a hill of the Danes, the Tuatha de Danaan, the
ancient invisible race, and they had taught him all their tunes and
so bewitched his pipes that they would play of themselves if he
threw them up on the rafters. McDonough's pipes, they say, had not
that gift, but he himself could play those inspired tunes. Lately I
was told the story I have used in this play about his taking away
fifty sovereigns from the shearing at Cregroostha and spending them
at a village near. "I said to him," said the old man who told me this,
"that it would be better for him to have bought a good kitchen of
bacon; but he said, 'Ah, when I want more, I have but to squeeze the
pipes.'" The story of his wife's death and burial as I give it has
been told to me here and there. That is my fable, and the emotion
disclosed by the story is, I think, the lasting pride of the artist
of all ages:
"We are the music makers
And we are the dreamers of dreams....
We in the ages lying
In the buried past of the earth
Built Nineveh with our sighing,
And Babel itself with our mirth."
I wrote the little play while crossing the Atlantic in the _Cymric_
last September. Since it was written I have been told at Kinvara
that "McDonough was a proud man; he never would go to a wedding
unasked, and he never would play through a town," So he had laid
down pride for pride's sake, at that time of the burying of his wife.
In Galway this summer one who was with him at the end told me he had
a happy death, "But he died poor; for what he would make in the long
nights he would spend through the summer days." And then she said,
"Himself and Reilly and three other fine pipers died within that year.
There was surely a feast of music going on in some other place."
_Dates of production of plays_.
THE BOGIE MEN was first produced at the Court Theatre, London, July 8,
1912, with the following cast:
_Taig O'Harragha_ J. M. KERRIGAN
_Darby Melody_ J. A. O'ROURKE
THE FULL MOON was first produced at the Abbey
Theatre, Dublin, on November 10, 1910, with the
_Shawn Early_ J. O'ROURKE
_Bartley Fallon_ ARTHUR SINCLAIR
_Peter Tannian_ SIDNEY MORGAN
_Hyacinth Halvey_ FRED. O'DONOVAN
_Mrs. Broderick_ SARA ALLGOOD
_Miss Joyce_ EILEEN O'DOHERTY
_Cracked Mary_ MAIRE O'NEILL
_Davideen_ J. M. KERRIGAN
COATS was first produced at the Abbey Theatre,
Dublin, December, 1910, with the following cast:
_Mineog_ ARTHUR SINCLAIR
_Hazel_ J. M. KERRIGAN
_John_ J. A. O'ROURKE
DAMER'S GOLD was first produced at the Abbey
Theatre November 21, 1912, with the following cast:
_Delia Hessian_ SARA ALLGOOD
_Staffy Kirwan_ SIDNEY MORGAN
_Ralph Hessian_ J. M. KERRIGAN
_Damer_ ARTHUR SINCLAIR
_Simon Niland_ A. WRIGHT
McDONOUGH'S WIFE has not yet been produced by the Abbey Company.
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