THE PLAYBOY OF THE WESTERN WORLD AND ACHILL ISLAND. I posted here about how my father used to say that our ancestors had in common that rather than fight for their land, they had moved to parts of the world where nobody else would want to settle. Achill Island was an example from his side of the family. So I was pleased to see in the very good Introduction by Tim Robinson to THE ARAN ISLANDS that Achill Island had a connection with The Playboy of the Western World.

According to Robinson, Playboy is supposed to be based on two incidents which were well known in the Aran Islands at the time. The first was a story about a young man from Connemara who had hit his father over the head with a “loy” (spade) and was sheltered by islanders on Inis Meain. The second was about a man who had assaulted his former employer on Achill Island, nearly bit her nose off and burned her house down. He was arrested, escaped, and was hidden by distant relatives. (There were other escapes to America and returns to Achill Island in disguise.)

This man was celebrated in ballads and newspaper reports as “the Achill troglodyte”. He is also referred to in Playboy as “the man bit the yellow lady’s nostril” (“yellow” was a derogatory name for an Englishman).

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