DruidSynge: The Tinker’s Wedding

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The Tinker’s Wedding

A two-act burlesque, The Tinker’s Wedding was begun in the summer of 1902, the same summer in which he wrote Riders to the Sea and The Shadow of the Glen. It didn’t achieve final form, however, until it was prepared for publication in December 1907. In his preface Synge saw no reason to believe ‘that these country people [the clergy included], who have so much humour in themselves, will mind being laughed at without malice, as the people in every country have been laughed at in their own comedies’, but this play remained unperformed in his lifetime and had to wait until the celebrations for the centenary of his birth in 1971 to see a performance in his own Abbey Theatre. It takes up the story of Sarah Casey, a young tinker woman, the beauty of Ballinacree, who makes a bid for respectability by marrying with Michael Byrne, father of her children and companion on the roads for many years. She attempts to inveigle the local Priest to marry them with the inducement of a crown and a new tin can. Mary Byrne, Michael’s porter swilling mother, without meaning to, finds herself tripping up these proceedings. Only when the Priest threatens them with ‘the Peelers’ [the police] do they bandy together and tie the Priest up in a bag, the flagrant act that made the play too incendiary to perform. It was first performed at His Majesty’s Theatre London, 11 November, 1909, some seven months after Synge had died. Yeats attended this performance and walked out after the first act. It was first published by Maunsel, Dublin, in late December 1907.

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