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The Arts Council Playography Na Gaeilge


John Millington (J.M.) Synge

1871 - 1909

Born in Rathfarham, Co. Dublin in 1871, John Millington Synge was a playwright, poet, prose writer, collector of folklore and co-founder of The Abbey Theatre. Synge studied at Trinity College Dublin and also in Germany, Italy and Paris, where he studied literature and languages at the Sorbonne. As a young man he was also a talented musician and studied at the Royal Irish Academy of Music and initially considered a career as a musician. Following a suggestion by Yeats, in 1898 he visited the Aran Islands, and spent the next five summers on the islands, collecting folklore and perfecting his Irish. The Aran Islands, a record of his visits to the three islands, was published in 1907. A key figure in the Irish Literary Revival, Synge was one of the co-founders of the Abbey Theatre in 1904. His play In The Shadow of the Glen, (first performed in 1903) formed part of the bill for the opening run of the Abbey Theatre on December 27, 1904. The Playboy of the Western World, was first performed in the Abbey in January 1907, and the production famously led to protests and rioting. Yeats took to the stage on the second night and said: "You have disgraced yourself again, is this to be the recurring celebration of the arrival of Irish genius?" In 1909 Synge got engaged to the Abbey actress Molly Allgood. He suffered from Hodgkin's disease, first diagnosed in 1897, and died in 1909.