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The Island of Saints and How to Get Out of It

A Small Piece for the Times by St. John Ervine


  • Playwright

    St. John Greer Ervine 

  • Setting

    Kitchen of John Cairns' cottage, Co. Down
    The afternoon of a day in July

  • Synopsis

    A meditation on emigration through the thoughts of John Cairns, an elderly Ulster cobbler. When Robert McGrum, an old love rival of his from earlier times, returns from America extravagantly rich but desperately ill, Cairns chooses to interpret his physical sufferings as an indictment of American materialism. Cairns' son, on the other hand, fed up with the political bickering between Republicans and Orangemen and eager to move on with the rest of his life, emerges as an ideal candidate for emigration...

  • Play Type

    Plays General

    Number Of Acts

    One Act

  • Cast Size Male


  • Cast Size Female



Original Cast  
Robert McGrum F J McCormick
John Cairns Peter Nolan
Johnnie Cairns Tony Quinn (1)
Ellen Cairns Maureen Delany
Production Team  
Musical Director Dr. J.F. Larchet
Produced by Lennox Robinson
Stage Manager Michael J. Dolan


  • Territory

    All Territories

  • Rights Type

    All Rights

  • Contact

    Colin Smythe Ltd.

  • Address

    P. O. Box 6, Gerrards Cross
    SL9 8XA

  • Phone

    +44 (0) 1753 886000

  • Email


Information for this entry has come from the original company programme and from press reviews of the premiere production.