Riders to the Sea Background

Riders to the Sea Background

"Riders to the Sea" is a one-act play written by Irish playwright John Millington Synge. J.M. Synge, after visiting the Aran Islands situated off the Irish coast, found inspiration in the peasant life of rural Ireland. He started making annual trips in the summer and studied the lives of ordinary people and observed their superstitions, culture and folklore. This play was based on his experiences while there. On one of his trips he heard the story of a man whose body was found washed up on the shore on of the Aran Islands. After hearing that story, he was inspired to write a play, and "Riders to the Sea" was written.

Considered one of the greatest one-act plays of modern theater, it combines elements of rural Irish life and its pagan influences with Greek tragedies. He masterfully paints a picture of the sorrows of Irish rural life and the perseverance of the people in the face of their harsh environment. The stormy sea on the islands of Western Ireland is a great enemy of the people living there, taking countless lives. This play reveals how people have to accept the cruelty of this impersonal enemy and move on with their lives, because there is nothing they can do to fight it.