The Weir

by Conor McPherson

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Last Updated September 5, 2023.

When the men gather at The Weir to drink and talk, there's word that their friend Finbar has sold a property to a woman named Valerie. The two of them will be coming to The Weir. Jack doesn't take this news extremely well because he clearly has some resentment against Finbar. He says:

Ah, he's only old shit. He wouldn't have the nerve. Sure, how far'd he get anyway? The fucking head on him. He's only having a little thrill. Bringing her around. And I'll tell you what it is as well. He's coming in here with her. And he's the one. He's the one that's with her, in whatever fucking...sense we're talking about. He's bringing her in. And there's you and me, and the Jimmy fella, the muggins's, the single fellas. And he's the married fella. And he's going "Look at this! There's obviously something the fuck wrong with yous. Yous are single and you couldn't get a woman near this place. And look at me. I'm hitched. I'm over and done with, and I'm having to beat them off."

Jack, unlike Finbar, never left home. He didn't find the same kind of commercial success as his friend and lost the woman he loved because he wouldn't leave. This creates a problem between the two men even if neither has done anything to directly negatively affect the other.

After the four men and Valerie are together, they start talking about supernatural occurrences. Jack tells the story of a woman who was scared by something knocking at her door. He says:

But—Birdie came down and opened the door, and there was nobody there. And she didn't say anything. And she wasn't making a big thing out of it, you know? And Maura said, she was only young, but she knew there was something wrong. She wasn't cracking the jokes. And later on, when the others were all out, it was just her and her mother sitting at the fire. And her mother was very quiet. Normally she'd send Maura up to bed, early enough, like. But Marua said she remembered this night because Birdie didn't send her up. She wanted someone with her, you see.

Later, he explains that the house was built on a fairy road. Jack's tale, like Finbar's, has its roots deep in the supernatural. There's not a large sense of personal loss to Jack or Finbar. However, when Valerie tells her story, the supernatural element is tied to a personal loss. That makes the story that much deeper and more haunting. The same can be said of Jim's story of loss that he tells at the end of the play.

Valerie has bought a property and is moving because she's trying to escape her past. She talks about her daughter, Niamh, saying:

I had gone back to work after having my daughter, Niamh. My husband teaches engineering, at DCU. We had Niamh in 1988. And I went back to work when she was five, when she started school. And we'd leave her with Daniel's parents, my husband's parents. His mother always picked her up from school. And I'd collect her after work. And last year, she, she was dying to learn how to swim. And the school had a thing. They'd take the class down to CRC in Clontarf on Wednesday. She was learning very well. No problem. Loved the water. She couldn't wait for Wednesdays and Swimming. Daniel used to take her to the pool on Saturdays and everything.

One day she arrived late to a swim competition and Niamh was laid down on the table with an ambulance worker trying to revive her. She'd hit her head and died in the pool. Before Niamh died, she'd tell her parents that there were people trapped in the walls and that she heard them knocking to get out. After her death, Valerie gets a call from Niamh saying that she can't get out. She's trapped in the same way that Valerie is trapped by her death.

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