J.M. Synge, Travelling Ireland: Essays 1898-1908
Synge’s topographical essays appear here in their original newspaper and periodical publication form, taken from the Manchester Guardian, The Gael and The Shanachie, complete with illustrations, mostly by Jack B. Yeats. A substantial essay-introduction by Nicholas Grene places his work in its historical context (1898-1908) and evokes the man and his milieu.
Synge’s writings explore social, political and aesthetic perspectives gained from his travels on the Atlantic seaboard and among the Wicklow Hills. Eighteen of them concern the Aran Islands and the west of Ireland of the Congested Districts, from County Donegal down to Galway, describing famine relief projects, ferrymen, kelp gatherers, boat-builders, peasant proprietors, small shopkeepers, races and fairs. Nine deal with County Wicklow and West Kerry, their vagrants, landlords and pastimes. Maps, photographs by Synge, facsimile title-pages, and above all Jack Yeats’ inimitable drawings, embellish the text.
NICHOLAS GRENE is Professor of English Literature at Trinity College, Dublin. His previous works include critical studies of Shaw, Synge (Interpreting Synge, 2000), and most recently Yeats (Yeats’s Poetic Codes, 2008).