Centenary of birth of MJ Molloy to be marked

Writer was once described as ‘greatest master of Irish folk theatre since Synge’

Acclaimed playwright MJ Molloy, a native of Milltown, Co Galway

Acclaimed playwright MJ Molloy, a native of Milltown, Co Galway


The centenary of the birth of playwright MJ Molloy, once described as “the greatest master of Irish folk theatre since Synge”, is due to be marked this evening in his native north Galway.

“The theatrical world he created was strange and utterly unique; a world dominated by great baroque characters from the folklore of the west and peopled by sad edgy characters haunted by loss, victims of Ireland’s inability to take care of its own,” Druid Theatre artistic director Garry Hynes has said of Molloy, who was born in Milltown, Co Galway, in 1914.

Molloy began writing after he was forced to abandon his studies to become a priest due to serious illness. His experience of several George Bernard Shaw productions at the Abbey Theatre in Dublin inspired him to write a number of plays, including Old Road (1943), The Visiting House (1946), The King of Friday’s Men (1948) and The Paddy Pedlar (1953).

One of his last public appearances was at a production of his play The Bachelor’s Daughter (1985), where he was introduced by Kevin O’Sullivan, now Irish Times editor, then chairman of Tuam Theatre Guild.

Journalist Jim Carney, who is hosting tonight’s commemorative event, says Molloy was lauded for his “authentic, lyrical use of rural west of Ireland language and subject matter”.

Molloy was a member of Aosdána, and lived all his life in Milltown, where he died aged 80 in 1994.

Tonight’s tribute will include music composed and performed by three of Molloy’s grand-nieces, and a performance of The Paddy Pedlar by the revived Milltown Drama Society.