Today the Irish nation and the world theatre community comes to terms with the sad passing of one of Ireland’s brilliant voices, the extraordinary playwright Tom Murphy.

We mourn the loss of a titan of Irish Theatre, Tom Murphy. His contribution to his national theatre was immeasurable and his guidance to our organisation as playwright, colleague, board member and generous friend was incomparable.

Today is a day we all remember him. Tom was particularly generous to us in our time here as joint Directors of the Abbey Theatre. Many of the staff here have had far longer working relationships with Tom. Our team are fondly remembering Tom’s beautiful tenor voice, singsongs and fun late into the night at the Abbey. We are marvelling at the musicality and muscularity of Tom’s work. The score of his text was so precise. Every comma, ellipsis and pause had intent. The craftsmanship of his work was beyond phenomenal.

Tom Murphy had an intimate understanding of Irish identity, tackling themes of religion, emigration and redemption. His plays are imbued with a unique juxtaposition between violence and dark humour, yearning and rage. Tom was ever daring, pushing the boundaries of Irish Theatre, and challenging us with disturbing images of Irish life.

Everyone at the Abbey Theatre wishes to express our sincere and heartfelt condolences to his wife Jane and to Mary, Bennan, Johnny, Nell and to Tom’s extended family and friends. He will be greatly missed.’ Graham McLaren and Neil Murray – Directors of the Abbey Theatre.


Tom Murphy and the Abbey Theatre 

Tom Murphy had a rich history at his national theatre, with 2018 marking the 50th anniversary of his first production at the Abbey Theatre – the seminal work Famine presented on the Peacock Stage in 1968.

There were 19 world premieres of Tom’s original works and adaptations at the Abbey and Peacock stages. His world premieres at the Abbey include: A Crucial Week in the life of a Grocer’s Assistant (1969), The Morning After Optimism (1971), The White House (1972), The Vicar of Wakefield (1974), The Sanctuary Lamp (1975), The Blue Macushla (1980), She Stoops to Conquer (1982), The Gigli Concert (1983), A Thief of a Christmas (1985), Too Late for Logic (1989), The Wake (1998), The House (2000), The Cherry Orchard (2004), The Last Days of a Reluctant Tyrant (2009). Along with Famine, Tom’s Alice Trilogy made its Irish premier on the Peacock stage in 2006 and, Epitaph Under Ether (1979), and The Patriot Game (1991).

Other presentations of Tom’s work at the Abbey include On the Outside (1974), A Whistle in the Dark (1986), Conversations on a Homecoming (1992), and Bailegangaire (2001). The Abbey toured internationally with four of his plays. There was a national tour of A Crucial Week in the life of a Grocer’s Assistant (1970), as well as  A Whistle in the Dark (United Kingdom, 1989), The Wake (Edinburgh, 1999), and The Gigli Concert (Australia, 2004).

In 2001, the Abbey Theatre celebrated its long collaboration with Tom, presenting a special Tom Murphy season. This presentation of five plays and a reading of Famine won a special Irish Times Theatre Award. In that same year his archive was purchased by Trinity College Dublin. Tom was recently honoured with a celebration of his career at a live recording of RTÉ Radio One’s Arena at the Abbey Theatre on 1 February this year.

Tom’s deft ability to convey emotions of human interaction on stage has captured Abbey audiences from his first premier to the present.  Tom was a truly unique voice, and his loss will be felt for generations to come.

Actor Stephen Rea will pay tribute to Tom from the Peacock Stage at the Abbey Theatre following this evening’s performance of Cyprus Avenue.


Tom Murphy – Productions at the Abbey Theatre 

21 March 1968 – Famine – Peacock Stage (World Premiere)
24 June 1968 – Famine – Abbey Stage
10 November 1969 – A Crucial Week in the life of a Grocer’s Assistant – Abbey Stage (World Premiere)
15 March 1971 – The Morning After Optimism – Abbey Stage (World Premiere)
20 March 1972 – The White House – Abbey Stage (World Premiere)
13 July 1972 – The White House – Abbey Stage
18 November 1974 – On the Outside/On the Inside – Peacock Stage (World Premiere)
26 November 1974 – On the Outside/ On the Inside – Abbey Stage
19 December 1974 – The Vicar of Wakefield – Abbey Stage
6 October 1975 – The Sanctuary Lamp – Abbey Stage (World Premiere)
7 June 1977 – The Morning After Optimism – Abbey Stage
30 August 1979 – Epitaph Under Ether – Peacock Stage (World Premiere)
6 March 1980 – The Blue Macushla – Abbey Stage (World Premiere)
11 February 1982 – She Stoops to Conquer – Abbey Stage (World Premiere)
(New Version in an Irish Setting)

1 November 1982- She Stoops to Conquer – Abbey Stage
29 September 1983 – The Gigli Concert – Abbey Stage (World Premiere)
28 October 1985 – The Sanctuary Lamp – Abbey Stage
30 December 1985 – A Thief of a Christmas – Abbey Stage (World Premiere)
30 September 1986 – A Whistle in the Dark – Abbey Stage
27 July 1987 – A Whistle in the Dark – Abbey Stage
29 August 1988 – A Crucial Week in the life of a Grocer’s Assistant – Abbey Stage
24 October 1988 – A Crucial Week in the life of a Grocer’s Assistant – Abbey Stage
3 October 1989 – Too Late for Logic – Abbey Stage (World Premiere)
11 March 1991 – The Gigli Concert – Abbey Stage
15 May 1991 – The Patriot Game – Peacock Stage (World Premiere)
11 February 1992 – Conversations on a Homecoming – Abbey Stage
November 1992 – A Crucial Week in the life of a Grocer’s Assistant – Abbey Stage
26 November 1992 – On the Outside/On the Inside – Peacock Stage
30 September 1993 – Famine – Abbey Stage
9 October 1996 – She Stoops to Folly – Abbey Stage (World Premiere)
(Devised from The Vicar of Wakefield)
28 January 1998 – The Wake – Abbey Stage (World Premiere)
19 July 1999 – The Wake – Abbey Stage
12 April 2000 – The House – Abbey Stage (World Premiere)

October 2001 – Murphy Season

A Whistle in the Dark – Abbey Stage
The Gigli Concert – Abbey Stage
Bailegangaire – Peacock Stage
The Sanctuary Lamp – Peacock Stage
The Morning after Optimism – Peacock Stage

14 June 2002 – Bailegangaire – Peacock Stage

17 February 2004 – The Cherry Orchard  – Abbey Stage (World Premiere)
(New version of Chekhov)

10 October 2006 – Alice Trilogy – Peacock Stage

3 June 2009 – The Last Days of a Reluctant Tyrant – Abbey Stage (World Premiere)
(Inspired by the novel ‘The Golovlyov Family’

13 June 2012 – The House – Abbey Stage
28 June 2016 – The Wake – Abbey Stage