Friends of Emily: John Millington Synge

One hundred and ten year ago John Millington Synge died. He was only a week or so shy of his thirty eight birthday. Having only enjoyed a short period of fame, little more than half a decade, illness and eventual death cutting it short.

BIOGRAPHICALLY the most remarkable feature of Synge’s career was its brevity. In the six years which elapsed between 1903, when In the Shadow of the Glen was produced, to 1909, when he died, he rose from absolute obscurity to world fame, and provided us with six plays on which his reputation must rest” Read more:

Originally published in Minute History of the Drama. Alice B. Fort & Herbert S. Kates. New York: Grosset & Dunlap, 1935. p. 118

Emily and Synge were friends from Gaelic League and literary circles but may have known one another from their earlier years. Both came from clerical families and were similar ages, she slightly older. There is a possibility that they met in their youth. Emily’s father and Synge’s uncle were both evangelical missionaries in the 1850’s. Synge’s uncle went to the Aran Islands, with the view to converting, the islanders, Emily’s father, Mayo and Connemara. Both men were run out of town. There was a good chance they were close enough friends as Emily was one of a relatively small group that attended his funeral, traveling cross country all the way from Achill to Dublin.


Dublin Daily Express 27 March 1909