The Weir

by Conor McPherson

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Last Updated September 5, 2023.

The Weir, a play by Conor McPherson, is set in a rural pub in an isolated small town in the windswept countryside of northwestern Ireland. Each of the five characters in the play has their own stories to tell which illustrate the central themes of love, loneliness, and what might have been.

The play opens with Jack, a local garage owner, helping himself to a drink at the bar in the absence of the pub owner, Brendan.


Jack is a lifelong bachelor, a gruff but lovable curmudgeon who plays the horses and who hides the inner pain of losing the one woman he loved under the garrulous exterior he presents to the world. Jack is the elder statesman of the locals who frequent Brendan's pub. He tries to hold onto the small community of the pub for companionship, but he's also aware that the younger men in the village, like Brendan, shouldn't make the same mistakes he did and end up leading a lonely life.


Brendan, the pub owner, doesn't talk much for a bartender. Brendan acts as the quiet listener, mediator, and master of ceremonies for the locals and their stories. Brendan lives above the pub and feels the loneliness of living there without a family and without a partner. Brendan is estranged from his two married sisters, who are pressuring him to sell part of the family farm. He's torn between keeping the history of the farm intact and selling it off so his brothers-in-law can buy new cars.


Jack and Brendan are joined by Jim, Jack's handyman and assistant. Jim is a shy, quiet, inhibited man in his forties who lives with his aging and demanding mother. He goes about his daily life and handyman business, clinging to habits and his routine.

Finbar Mack

Brendan, Jack, and Jim tell each other lies, stories, and gossip until their friendly banter is interrupted by the entrance of Finbar Mack and Valerie. Finbar is renting the old Nealon place to Valerie, and he's brought her to the pub to meet his old friends.

Finbar Mack grew up with Jack and Jim, but he left the village to go off to Dublin, where he became a successful real estate agent. His father was Big Finbar, a larger-than-life character whom Finbar has spent his life trying to emulate. Brendan, Jack, and Jim are resentful and just a little envious of Finbar's success. Even though Finbar is no longer fully accepted in the village, he's affable toward the others, but he sometimes talks a little too loud and flashes his money around.


Valerie, a young married woman in her thirties, has come to the area from Dublin to seek solace in the quiet countryside. She shocks and saddens the others with the story about the tragic death of her young daughter. Brendan, Jack, Jim, and Finbar do their best, each in their own way, to comfort her and welcome her to the village.

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