The Cripple of Inishmaan

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The Cripple of Inishmaan
Cripple of inishmaan mcdonagh book cover.jpg
Methuen cover
Written by Martin McDonagh
Date premiered 12 December 1996
Place premiered Royal National Theatre,
Original language English
Genre Black Comedy
Setting 1934 on the island of Inis Meáin
IOBDB profile

The Cripple of Inishmaan is a dark comedy by Martin McDonagh who links the story to the real life filming of the documentary Man of Aran.

Set on the small Aran Islands community of Inis Meáin off the Western Coast of Ireland, c. 1934, the inhabitants are excited to learn of a Hollywood film crew's arrival in neighbouring Inis Mór to make a documentary about life on the islands. "Cripple" Billy Claven, eager to escape the gossip, poverty and boredom of Inishmaan, vies for a part in the film, and to everyone's surprise, the orphan and outcast gets his chance.[1]

The play[edit]

The Cripple of Inishmaan opened on 12 December 1996 at Royal National Theatre (Cottesloe) in London.[2] In 1998, it opened at Joseph Papp Public Theater in New York City, again with Ruaidhri Conroy in the title role.[3] In the same year, Frederick Koehler played Billy in Los Angeles. In December 2008, The Cripple of Inishmaan was produced in New York City by the Atlantic Theater Company in conjunction with The Druid Theatre Company of Galway, Ireland.

In 2013 the play returned to the West End for a sold-out run starring Daniel Radcliffe as Cripple Billy and with Michael Grandage directing. In Spring 2014 this production transferred to Broadway's Cort Theatre for a limited run, with Opening Night on 20 April 2014. [4]


Martin McDonagh said of his play, "I hope someday they’ll be regarded as true Irish stories; I don’t think they are at this minute. It will take a long time for the baggage of me being a Londoner to be in the past." In an interview, after the play was performed on Inishmaan in 2011, it was reported that "Mr. McDonagh used an unprintable euphemism to explain that it has never been his intent to take the measure of his fellow Irishmen cruelly".[5]


  • Billy Claven, a crippled orphan
  • Eileen Osbourne, Billy's other adoptive aunt and Kate's sister
  • Johnnypateenmike, the town gossip
  • Helen McCormick, a tough girl Billy has had a crush on for some time
  • Bartley McCormick, Helen's brother
  • Babbybobby Bennett, a boatman whose wife died of tuberculosis
  • Doctor McSharry, the town doctor
  • Mammy O'Dougal, Johnny's alcoholic 90 year-old mother


  • McDonagh, Martin. The Cripple of Inishmaan. Methuen Modern Plays. 1997. (Hardcover) ISBN 0-413-71590-6
  • McDonagh, Martin. The Cripple of Inishmaan. Vintage International. 1998. (Paperback) ISBN 0-375-70523-6


  1. ^ "The Cripple Of Inishmaan: A CurtainUp Review". Retrieved 2006-05-09. 
  2. ^ "National Theatre: Past Productions: 1996-2000". Retrieved 2006-05-09. 
  3. ^ "The Public Theater: Past Productions: The Cripple of Inishmaan". Archived from the original on 2006-10-03. Retrieved 2006-05-09. 
  4. ^
  5. ^ New York TImes decription of performance of play on Inishmaan