The Cripple of Inishmaan

The Cripple of Inishmaan

by Martin McDonagh


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In 1934, the people of Inishmaan learn that the Hollywood director Robert Flaherty is coming to the neighbouring island to film his documentary Man of Aran. No one is more excited than Billy, an unloved and crippled boy whose chief occupation has been gazing at cows and yearning for a girl who wants no part of him.

For Billy is determined to cross the sea and audition for the Yank. As news of his audacity ripples through his rumour-starved community, The Cripple of Inishmaan becomes a merciless portrayal of a world so comically cramped and mean-spirited that hope is an affront to its order.

With this bleak yet uproariously funny play, Martin McDonagh fulfilled the promise of his award-winning The Beauty Queen of Leenane while confirming his place in a tradition that extends from Synge to O'Casey and Brendan Behan.

This Student Edition, complete with plot summary and scholarly notes, is edited by Dr. P.J. Mathews of University College Dublin.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780375705236
Publisher: Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
Publication date: 09/08/1998
Series: Vintage International Series
Pages: 128
Sales rank: 526,291
Product dimensions: 5.20(w) x 8.00(h) x 0.28(d)

About the Author

Martin McDonagh is a Tony- and Oscar-winning scriptwriter whose first play, The Beauty Queen of Leenane. won multiple awards including four Tonys and the Laurence Olivier Award. He has gone on to write many smash-hit shows and films, winning an Academy Award for Live Action Short Film for Six Shooter (2005), an Oscar nomination, a British Independent Film Award for best screenplay, an Irish Playwrights and Screenwriters Guild Award for Best Film Script, and a BAFTA for best original screenplay, all for In Bruges, and a Laurence Olivier award for Best New Play for The Pillowman (2004).

P.J. Mathews is a Senior Lecturer in the School of English, Drama and Film at University College Dublin, and has written widely on Irish literature and theatre. He is the author of Revival (Field Day, 2003); editor of The Cambridge Companion to John Millington Synge (CUP, 2009); and co-editor (with Declan Kiberd) of Handbook of the Irish Revival (Abbey Theatre Press, 2015). He is Director of Academic Podcasting for UCDscholarcast (

Table of Contents

Plot overview
Commentary: - Context - Structure - Themes - Characters
Play text
Questions for Further Study
Further reading

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The Cripple of Inishmaan 4.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 2 reviews.
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Guest More than 1 year ago
This play is by Martin McDonagh, an award-winning playwright whose previous Irish play, The Beauty Queen of Leenane, won a Tony award for Best Play. The Cripple of Inishmaan focuses on the lives of the residents of Inishmaan in 1934. We follow Billy the cripple, the main character of this play. The supporting characters include: Helen, a feisty young lass who has a tongue that would offend even the most colorful drunk. Billy's two aunts, Kate, who talks to rocks, and Eileen, who runs a sweets store. Johnnypateenmike, the town gossip, as well as BabbyBobby who is constantly getting his old lady drunk, and finally Bartley, Helen's younger brother. This is a riveting story that will bring you on a roller coaster ride of emotion. You will experience love, hate, compassion, joy, sadness, but most of all, you will laugh. This play is hysterical! We would recommend reading it or seeing it to anyone who enjoys theater, or just likes Irish culture, or even if you like Hollywood in the 1930's. The story centers on Billy and his wanting to be in a film that is being made on the neighboring island of Inishmoore, The Man of Aran. To get to the island, he has to tell everyone that he has tuberculosis so that they will feel sorry for him and let him go. Billy later decides to leave his aunts and the island and go to Hollywood with the rest in an attempt to fulfill his dream of becoming a film actor. Does Billy really have tuberculosis? Does he have what it takes to make it in the harsh world that is Hollywood? There's only one way to find out...