A: Padraic Colum Pf: 1905, Dublin Pb: 1916 G: Drama in 3 acts S: Cosgar's farm, Irish Midlands, 1905 C: 4m, 2f, extrasThe Wyndham Land Act of 1903 provided for the break-up of the old estates, allowing tenant farmers to buy their land over a 68-year period. Murtagh Cosgar is an enterprising farmer who has taken advantage of the Act and so disapproves of his son Matt's love for Ellen Douras, a teacher whose father, unwilling to purchase his farm, has remained a ‘peasant’, even though he had been jailed for his efforts in the land agitation. Ellen's brother, the simple-minded Cornelius, is in love with Murtagh's daughter Sally. Matt finally persuades his father that he should marry for love not to acquire land. But Ellen herself rejects Matt, choosing freedom in preference to land. Matt emigrates to America, hoping that he may later unite there with Ellen, leaving the farm to be inherited by Sally's intended, the cloddish Cornelius.
A: Padraic Colum Pf: 1905, Dublin Pb: 1916 G: Drama in 3 acts S: Cosgar's farm, Irish Midlands, 1905 C: 4m, 2f, extras
The Land was the Abbey Theatre's first popular success and shared with Synge a realistic depiction of life in rural Ireland. While for Colum the play celebrated ‘the redemption of the soil of Ireland’ from its ownership by Anglo-Irish landlords, it also depicted a generation of young Irish who for the first time could choose emigration rather than be forced into it, and who valued personal fulfilment above the conservative pressure to get married, settle down, and acquire land. It anticipates similar conflicts, between conservative desire to own land and more progressive ideas, in John B. Keane's The Field.