The action of The Fiddler’s House takes place in a simple cottage inhabited by a widower, Conn Hourican, and his adult daughters, Maire and Anne. As the first of its three acts begins, the very polite and sensible James Moynihan is courting Anne. After James leaves, Conn enters and expresses his nostalgia for the happy days when he and his late wife traveled around the Irish Midlands so that Conn could play his fiddle in many villages. Anne is glad that their grandmother willed their cottage to Maire and not to their father; this gives Anne and Maire a sense of security, but Conn is tired of such a peaceful existence. Playing his fiddle in Flynn’s, the local pub, or perhaps even at the Feis of Ardagh, a regional musical festival, would bring Conn much pleasure: Maire, however, begs Conn not to go to Flynn’s lest he become drunk and disgrace them again. She obtains his solemn promise not to enter Flynn’s that evening. Although Brian MacConnell (a farmer who loves Maire) knows of Maire’s wishes, he persuades Conn to accompany him to Flynn’s by appealing to his vanity. He tells him that Shawn Heffernan, a fiddler whom Conn does not hold in high esteem, will perform at Flynn’s that evening. Unless Conn plays at Flynn’s, the villagers will conclude that Conn is no longer a gifted musician who can compete with younger fiddlers.
Act 2 begins on the following morning. Maire and Anne regret that Brian and Conn went to Flynn’s instead of attending the respectable party given by the Moynihans. Anne wanted Conn to create a favorable impression on James’s parents. Maire begins to express serious doubts about Brian, whom she now considers to be fairly irresponsible. Conn enters and tells his daughters that several patrons in Flynn’s praised his playing and even referred to him as a “master musician.” Maire and Anne come to realize that their father lives for music. Maire reminisces that she and her late mother often tried in vain to make Conn think less of music and more of his family’s welfare.
James then enters and...
(The entire section is 845 words.)