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The Briery Gap

A Play in One Act


  • Playwright

    T.C. Murray 

  • Notes

    Murray wrote 'The Briery Gap' in 1915. He found this play very troubling. He worried about public opinion given the subject matter. In a second printing in 1926, Joan does not commit suicide; but merely slumps on a rock near the river. The play was given several public readings before the 1948 Abbey production; an experimental production in the Peacock in 1973, directed by Jim Sheridan, was framed in the context of contemporary debates about the availability of contraception and the plight of unmarried mothers in Ireland.

  • Synopsis

    The play finds young Joan pregnant out of wedlock by Morgan. They have been denounced from the pulpit by Father Coyne that morning. Joan fears that it is “the talk o’ the world by now.” She implores Morgan to marry her immediately. Morgan, being an orphan, is waiting for an uncle to endow him with property rights. Father Coyne meets with Joan’s parents and Morgan’s uncle, and tells the young couple they must marry. Morgan’s priorities are a secure future and he abandons Joan to emigrate. With no hope left for a respectable life, Joan drowns herself in the nearby river.

  • Play Type

    Plays General

    Number Of Acts

    One Act

  • Cast Size Male


  • Cast Size Female



Original Cast  
Joan Angela Newman
Father Coyne Philip O'Flynn
Morgan Patrick Nolan
Production Team  
Settings by Tomás Mac Anna
Production by Tomás Mac Anna



  • Territory

    All Territories

  • Rights Type

    All Rights

  • Contact

    Colin Smythe Ltd.

  • Address

    P. O. Box 6, Gerrards Cross
    SL9 8XA

  • Phone

    +44 (0) 1753 886000

  • Email


The information for this entry was taken from the original production programme and Ireland's Abbey Theatre: A History 1899-1951 by Lennox Robinson. The synopsis and additional notes were provided by Martin Munroe.