Tribute to one of Ireland’s greatest playwrights – Tom Murphy

16 May 2018

It is with deep sadness that the College community today learned of the death of Tom Murphy. The acclaimed playwright had a long standing relationship with Trinity.

Marking his sad passing, we are revisiting his wonderful contribution to Irish theatre captured in an online Library exhibition Tom Murphy: a Life in the Theatre based on his papers acquired by the Library of Trinity College. 

This online exhibition curated by retired Professor of English Literature Professor Nicholas Grene and Liam Harrison, traces the genesis of Murphy’s work from his life as a young man in Tuam (memories of which feature so frequently in his plays), the imaginative development of his plays through the writing process, his engagement with staging and production by the Abbey and Druid Theatre Company. 

Featured in the exhibition are draft manuscripts, a range of photographs of productions, and of the playwright himself from an early appearance as Christy Mahon in The Playboy in the Tuam Little Theatre Guild through to the conferral of the gold torc of the Saoi by President Higgins.  There are also especially commissioned interviews on Murphy’s work by Irish Times columnist, Fintan O’Toole,  writer, Colm Tóibín and Artistic Director of the Druid Theatre Company, Garry Hynes honouring the great playwright.

Trinity was honoured by the playwright’s presence at a special event last October on the occasion of the launch of the exhibition and book by Professor Nicholas Grene on the playwright.

In his acknowledgment of the playwright’s enormous contribution to Irish writing and theatre Professor Nicholas Grene said: For almost 60 years he pushed the boundaries of theatre with his powerfully disturbing images of Irish life and his haunting vision of being in the world. He spoke once of his preferred 'adventure method' of playwriting, as against working to crowd-pleasing dramatic formulae. The result has been a series of plays of astonishing daring, each one a new experiment in theatrical imagination.”

Professor Nicholas Grene‘s book, The Theatre of Tom Murphy: Playwright Adventurer a critical study, is the culmination of years of research, drawing heavily on the Library collection of Murphy papers.

In 1998, Tom Murphy was conferred with an honorary doctorate by Trinity College Dublin.

Trinity wishes to extend its condolences to his family and friends

The great playwright on the occasion of his honorary degree in 1998.




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Caoimhe Ni Lochlainn, College Press Officer | | +353 1 896 2310 / +353 87 995 8014 (out of office hours)

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