Remembering Tom Murphy


Sir, – Tom Murphy was a great support to me in the early days of my writing career. He came to see my first play, No Entry, at the Project Arts Centre in March of 1976. Afterwards he and Mary brought myself and my wife, Sheila, to dinner at the Trocadero Restaurant, my first time in that much-loved haunt of the theatre fraternity.

Over the years, I went to see Tom, especially when I was struggling with a play. In my memoir, Break A Leg, published in 2013, I recounted one such encounter, where I asked Tom what he was currently working on. “I’m finished,” he said. “I’m returning to the land, doing a spot of farming. I’ve planted some potatoes. I’ll need to harvest those.” I was shocked at Tom’s decision. I didn’t realise that he retired after every play he wrote. He turned his back on all of his writing. It was part of how he worked. He had to stop. Each play that he wrote was like a destruction of his personality, an emptying of his psyche. In many ways that was what made him so special. No two of his plays were alike. He could move from realism to expressionism and from magic realism to farce, because that’s where he was at any given point in his life. He changed and the work changed with him. A unique man, he will be greatly missed. – Yours, etc,


Dublin 9.