"In writing THE PLAYBOY OF THE WESTERN WORLD, as in my other plays, I have used
one or two words only that I have not heard among the country people of
Ireland, or spoken in my own nursery before I could read the newspapers. A
certain number of the phrases I employ I have heard also from herds and
fishermen along the coast from Kerry to Mayo, or from beggar-women and
balladsingers nearer Dublin; and I am glad to acknowledge how much I owe to
the folk imagination of these fine people. Anyone who has lived in real
intimacy with the Irish peasantry will know that the wildest sayings and ideas
in this play are tame indeed, compared with the fancies one may hear in any
little hillside cabin in Geesala, or Carraroe, or Dingle Bay. All art is a
collaboration; and there is little doubt that in the happy ages of literature,
striking and beautiful phrases were as ready to the story-teller's or the
playwright's hand, as the rich cloaks and dresses of his time. "
A small community in County Mayo is thrown into turbulance with the arrival of Christy Mahon, a mysterious stranger claiming to have killed his father. The local men aren’t sure if he's a danger and the local women find him fascinating. Michael James Flaherty the local publican takes a shine to him, and his daughter Pegeen Mike finds his company preferable to that of her dull fiancée, Shawn Keogh. However it transpires that Christy's father is not dead afterall, when Old Mahon arrives with a gaping head wound, searching for his ungrateful son.