If you are looking for a place to enjoy the stunning views of the Atlantic Ocean and the rugged beauty of the Aran Islands, you might want to visit Synge’s Chair on Inis Meáin (Inishmaan), the middle and least populated of the three Aran Islands in Galway.
Synge’s Chair is a lookout point at the edge of a sheer limestone cliff on the western side of the island. It consists of a large flat stone that resembles a chair, surrounded by smaller stones that form a sheltered enclosure. It is named after John Millington Synge, an Irish playwright, writer and collector of folklore, who spent many summers on Inis Meáin (Inishmaan) between 1898 and 1902.
Synge was a key figure in the Irish Literary Revival and one of the co-founders of the Abbey Theatre in Dublin. He is best known for his play The Playboy of the Western World, which caused a riot when it was first performed in 1907, due to its portrayal of rural Irish life and its challenge to traditional morality.
Synge was inspired by his experiences on Inis Meáin (Inishmaan), where he learned the Irish language and immersed himself in the culture and stories of the islanders. He wrote several plays, poems and essays based on his observations and interactions with the locals, such as Riders to the Sea, The Well of the Saints, The Aran Islands and In Wicklow and West Kerry.
Synge’s Chair was his favorite spot to sit and write, as well as to enjoy the panoramic views. He described it as “a place where I can sit for hours without hearing anything but the sea-gulls’ cry” (The Aran Islands). He also used it as a setting for some of his works, such as Deirdre of the Sorrows, his unfinished play that was published posthumously in 1910.
Synge died in 1909 at the age of 37 from Hodgkin’s disease, a form of lymphoma. He never married, but he had a romantic relationship with Molly Allgood, an actress who played several of his female characters on stage. She later wrote an autobiography called My Life in Two Halves, in which she recalled their visits to Inis Meáin (Inishmaan) and Synge’s Chair.
Today, Synge’s Chair is a popular attraction for visitors who want to experience the same tranquility and inspiration that Synge felt on the island. It is also a place of homage for fans of his literary legacy, who often leave notes or flowers on the stone chair. It is accessible by foot or by bike from the main village of Inis Meáin (Inishmaan), following a signposted path along the coast.
If you are planning to visit Synge’s Chair, make sure to dress warm and wear sturdy shoes, as the weather can be unpredictable and the terrain can be uneven. Also, be careful not to get too close to the edge of the cliff, as there is no railing or barrier to prevent you from falling. And most importantly, enjoy the breathtaking scenery and the rich history that surrounds you.
Peace and pints
Plenty of peace and pints.