The Wicklow essays are intimately related to the plays. Again and again, when reading through them, we come across anecdotes and phrases which reappear in The Shadow or The Tinker’s Wedding. But even more interesting than such source material is the social background which the essays provide, Synge’s view of the whole Wicklow community. Three different groups can be distinguished. In the remote mountain areas live the sheep-farmers who graze their stock on the common land of the hills; down in the valleys are the villages which supply agricultural labour, and the arable farms — Michael Dara is ‘a kind of a farmer has come up from the sea’; a shifting third estate is made up by the vagrants, the tramps, tinkers and ‘travelling people’. The range of the Wicklow essays allows us to look at each group in turn, and see where they stand in Synge’s perspective.
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- 6.Synge included the story in The Aran Islands, see Prose pp. 70–2. It is identified by Sean Ó Súillebháin as International Tale-Type 1350 in ‘Synge’s Use of Irish Folklore’, Harmon (ed.), J. M. Synge: Centenary Papers, pp. 18–34. Ó Súillebháin, we may hope, has finally laid the ghost of ‘the Widow of Ephesus’, which, he points out. is quite unrelated to this tale-type.Google Scholar
- 10.David H. Greene, ‘The Tinker’s Wedding; A revaluation’, PMLA, Vol. LXII (1947) 827.Google Scholar