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Synge: A Celebration

Edited by Colm Tóibín

Published by Carysfort Press Limited in association with DruidSynge
Price: EUR18 plus P&P
ISBN: 1-904505-14-7


Synge: A Celebration is the culmination of over a year’s work by renowned Irish author Colm Tóibín. Garry Hynes Druid Artistic Director originally approached Colm last year with a view to editing a book on Synge. The result has been remarkable, featuring a ‘Who’s Who’ of contemporary Irish writing. Synge: A Celebration is packed with all the ingenuity, ambiguity, and unpredictability, which Synge brought to his own work.

‘Synge has always been an entirely modern writer, his work is as radical now as it was when first created. In that regard, I felt it was important to put together a book which gave contemporary Irish writers the opportunity to respond and celebrate Synge much as we have aimed to do through DruidSynge. I am delighted that such a talented and respected writer as Colm has agreed to edit this book, and am especially excited to see so many fabulous and intriguing contributions from some of Ireland’s most talented writers.’
Druid Artistic Director, Garry Hynes

‘Last year, when Garry Hynes approached me and asked me to edit a book on Synge, I realised that a great seachange had taken place in relation to his work. Once, he would have been seen by many readers and writers as an old-fashioned writer whose influence was harmful, whose stage-Irishness was not to be taken seriously. Now, he has become a fascinating and ambiguous genius, whose language is rich with wit and nuance and unpredictability. He worked, as Yeats said, with a living speech, and the way he worked, his ingenuity, has come to mean a lot to contemporary Irish writers. Although he was quiet and mild-mannered, he had no respect for current pieties, but he made this into artistic energy rather than using it to protest. Also, his book on the Aran Islands, so careful, watchful, respectful, so deeply observant, is understood by all of us to be a masterpiece. Thus it was not hard to approach writers to write a piece about Synge, to produce a book as varied and unpredictable as Synge’s own work. The brief was open – use any form, any length to pay homage to, or even to argue with, or conjure up the writer who has become our contemporary. It meant a lot that we were doing this for the DruidSynge Season – when all six major plays will be presented in repertory for the first time – because the Druid Synge productions over the past quarter century have, more than anything else, been responsible for our fresh understanding of Synge’s genius.’
Colm Tóibín

Contributors: Sebastian Barry, Marina Carr, Anthony Cronin, Roddy Doyle, Anne Enright, Hugo Hamilton, Joseph O’Connor, Mary O’Malley, Fintan O’Toole, Colm Toibín, Vincent Woods. The book also contains a version of the play When the Moon Has Set with a foreword by Ann Saddlemyer.

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Some notes on the contributors:

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

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

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

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

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

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

Joseph O’Connor was born in Dublin. His first novel, Cowboys and Indians (Whitbread Prize shortlist), was published in 1991. This was followed by a volume of short stories, True Believers (1991) and four novels: Desperadoes (1993), The Salesman (1998), Inishowen (2000) and Star of the Sea (2002), which became an international bestseller and was published in 29 languages. It received the Prix Littraire Zepter for European novel of the year, a Hennessy/Sunday Tribune Honorary Award, the Irish Post Award for Fiction, France’s Prix Millepages, Italy’s Premio Acerbi, a Nielsen-BookScan Golden Book Award, and an American Library Association Notable Book Award. His non-fiction includes Even the Olives are Bleeding: The Life and Times of Charles Donnelly (1993), The Secret World of The Irish Male (1994), The Irish Male at Home and Abroad (1996), and Sweet Liberty: Travels in Irish America (1996). He has written three stage plays: Red Roses and Petrol (1995), The Weeping of Angels (1997) and True Believers (2000). His screenplays include A Stone of the Heart, The Long Way Home and Ailsa. He has recently been awarded a Cullman Writing Fellowship at the New York Public Library.

Mary O’Malley was born in Connemara, Co. Galway and educated at University College Galway. She taught for eight years at the University of Lisbon before returning to Ireland in 1982. Her collections of poems are A Consideration of Silk (1990), Where the Rocks Float (1993); The Knife in the Wave (1997), Asylum Road (2001), and The Boning Hall (2002). She received a Hennessy award in 1990. Her next collection is due from Carcanet in 2006. She is a member of Aosdána, and lives in Connemara.

Fintan O’Toole was born in Dublin. He has been a columnist with The Irish Times since 1988 and was drama critic of the Daily News in New York from 1997 until 2001. His books include The Politics of Magic: The Work and Times of Tom Murphy (1987); Ex-Isle of Erin (1997); A Traitor’s Kiss: The Life of Richard Brinsley Sheridan (1998); Shakespeare is Hard But So Is Life (2002); After The Ball: Ireland After the Boom (2003); and White Savage: William Johnson and the Invention of America (2005).

Ann Saddlemyer is Professor Emeritus of the University of Toronto and former Master of Massey College, currently adjunct Professor at the University of Victoria. She has edited the letters and plays of J.M. Synge, the plays of Lady Gregory, and the letters of the Abbey Theatre directors. She is one of the general editors of the Cornell Yeats manuscript project, and is currently working on an edition of the correspondence between George Yeats and W.B. Yeats. Her most recent book is Becoming George: The Life of Mrs. W.B. Yeats (2003) which was shortlisted for the James Tait Black award.

Colm Tóibín was born in Enniscorthy, Co. Wexford and is a novelist and journalist. His novels are The South (1990), The Heather Blazing (1992/1993), The Story of the Night (1997),The Blackwater Lightship (1999), for which he was shortlisted for The Booker Prize, 1999; and The Master (2004). His non-fiction includes Bad Blood (1994); and The Sign of the Cross – Travels in Catholic Europe (1994). He recently won the Los Angeles Times Novel of the Year for The Master which was also short-listed for the 2005 Booker Prize. He lives in Dublin and is a member of Aosdána.

Vincent Woods is a poet and playwright. He was born in Co. Leitrim and has lived in the United States, New Zealand and Australia. He worked as a journalist with RTE. until 1989, when he began writing full-time. His radio play, The Leitrim Hotel, was a prize-winner in the P.J. O’Connor Awards for radio drama and his poetry collections include The Colour of Language. His plays include At the Black Pig’s Dyke (1992), John Hughdy and Tom John (1991), Song of the Yellow Bittern (1994), and A Cry from Heaven (2005). Among his adaptations and translations are Fontamara (1998) and Winter (2005). He has won the M.J. McManus Award for Poetry and is a member of Aosdána.

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