The Weir

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For the National Trust property, see The Weir Garden.
The Weir
Weir poster.jpg
Promotional poster for the Irish Theatre Group
Written by Conor McPherson
Date premiered 1997
Place premiered Royal Court Theatre Upstairs, London
Original language English
Subject a publican and three of his regulars attempt to spook a newcomer from Dublin but end up themselves frightened
Genre Drama
Setting a bar in rural Ireland

The Weir is a play written by Conor McPherson in 1997. It was first produced at The Royal Court Theatre Upstairs in London, England, on 4 July 1997. It first appeared on Broadway at the Walter Kerr Theatre on 1 April 1999. It has since been performed in Toronto, Dublin, Belfast, Bolton, Bury St Edmunds, Hamburg, Boston, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Los Angeles, Chicago, Buffalo, Washington, D.C., Detroit, San Jose, Coalisland, and San Francisco.[1]

Plot summary[edit]

The play opens in a rural Irish pub with Brendan, the publican and Jack, a car mechanic and garage owner. These two begin to discuss their respective days and are soon joined by Jim. The three then discuss Valerie, a pretty young woman from Dublin who has just rented an old house in the area.

Finbar, a businessman, arrives with Valerie, and the play revolves around reminiscence and the kind of banter which only comes about amongst men who have a shared upbringing. After a few drinks, the group begin telling stories with a supernatural slant, related to their own experience or those of others in the area, and which arise out of the popular preoccupations of Irish folklore: ghosts, fairies and mysterious happenings.

After each man (with the exception of Brendan) has told a story, Valerie tells her own: the reason why she has left Dublin. Valerie's story is melancholy and undoubtedly true, with a ghostly twist which echoes the earlier tales, and shocks the men who become softer, kinder, and more real. There is the hint that the story may lead to salvation and, eventually, a happy ending for two of the characters.

Finbar and Jim leave, and in the last part of the play, Jack's final monologue is a story of personal loss which, he comments, is at least not a ghostly tale but in some ways is nonetheless about a haunting.

The play is as much about lack of close relationships and missed connections as it is about anything else. The weir of the title is the name of the pub, named for a hydroelectric dam on a nearby waterway that is mentioned only in passing as Finbar describes the local attractions to Valerie. It anticipates and symbolises the flow of the stories into and around each other, and how they have all collected together in one place to be recounted together.


Valerie tells her tale in a 2011 production by OVO theatre company, St Albans, UK
  • Jack, a mechanic and garage owner in his fifties.
  • Brendan, the owner of the pub in which the play is set. He is in his thirties.
  • Jim, Jack's assistant, in his forties.
  • Finbar Mack, a local businessman in his late forties.
  • Valerie, a Dublin woman in her thirties.


Royal Court Theatre Upstairs, UK (Original cast)

National Theatre, Prague, Czech Republic:[when?]

Irish Repertory Theatre, New York, NY (2013)

  • Finbar, Sean Gormley
  • Jim, John Keating
  • Jack, Dan Butler
  • Brendan, Billy Carter
  • Valerie, Tessa Klein

Donmar Warehouse, London (2013 Revival)[2]

Rover Rep Theatre, Hamburg

  • Finbar, Roger Graves
  • Jim, Jeff Caster
  • Jack, John Kirby
  • Brendan, Dave Duke
  • Valerie, Valerie Doyle

Melbourne Theatre Company, Melbourne, Australia 2015

Ljubljana National Drama Theatre, Slovenia - performing continuously since April 2001.

  • Finbar, Aleš Valič
  • Jim, Igor Samobor
  • Jack, Ivo Ban
  • Brendan, Branko Šturbej
  • Valerie, Saša Pavček

Critical response[edit]

Reviews of The Weir have been positive. It won the Laurence Olivier Award for Best New Play of 1997–98.[1] In addition, McPherson won the Critics' Circle Award as the most promising playwright in 1998 as a direct result of the success of The Weir. The play has received lofty praise, such as "beautifully devious,"[3] "gentle, soft-spoken, delicately crafted work,"[4] and "this is my play of the decade...a modern masterpiece."[5]

The Weir was voted one of the 100 most significant plays of the 20th Century in a poll conducted by the Royal National Theatre, London. It tied at 40th place with Eugene O'Neill's The Iceman Cometh, Samuel Beckett's Endgame and Arthur Miller's A View From The Bridge.[6]

Awards and nominations[edit]

  • 1999 Laurence Olivier Award for Best New Play


  1. ^ a b Kerrane, Kevin. The Structural Elegance of Conor McPherson's The Weir New Hibernia Review 10.4 (2006) 105-121
  2. ^ "The Weir, Donmar Warehouse". Retrieved 9 July 2013. 
  3. ^ Brantley, Ben. Dark Yarns Casting Light. New York Times. 2 April 1999, p. b 1.
  4. ^ Curtis, Nick. Evening Standard. 19 October 1998.
  5. ^ Langton, Robert G. The Express. 19 October 1998
  6. ^ Archived July 13, 2009 at the Wayback Machine

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]