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Riders to the Sea - J. M. Synge

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by J. M. SYNGE


It must have been on Synge's second visit to the Aran Islands
that he had the experience out of which was wrought what many
believe to be his greatest play.  The scene of "Riders to the
Sea" is laid in a cottage on Inishmaan, the middle and most
interesting island of the Aran group.  While Synge was on
Inishmaan, the story came to him of a man whose body had been
washed up on the far away coast of Donegal, and who, by reason
of certain peculiarities of dress, was suspected to be from the
island.  In due course, he was recognised as a native of
Inishmaan, in exactly the manner described in the play, and
perhaps one of the most poignantly vivid passages in Synge's
book on "The Aran Islands" relates the incident of his burial.

The other element in the story which Synge introduces into the
play is equally true.  Many tales of "second sight" are to be
heard among Celtic races.  In fact, they are so common as to
arouse little or no wonder in the minds of the people.  It is
just such a tale, which there seems no valid reason for
doubting, that Synge heard, and that gave the title, "Riders to
the Sea", to his play.

It is the dramatist's high distinction that he has simply taken
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