When Tom Murphy, who died last week aged 83, began writing he immediately turned to the two major defining Irish subjects, the Great Famine and emigration, for his material and inspiration. Considering his earliest dramatic preoccupations, he could hardly have been born in a more significant locale. His native place, Tuam in Co Galway, was an historic famine hinterland and had been devastated by emigration. It continued to be so as he grew up.
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