The Shaughraun

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File:The Shaughraun 1875.jpg
Color lithograph poster c. 1875.

The Shaughraun /ˈʃɒk.rn/ is a melodramatic play written by Irish playwright Dion Boucicault. It was first performed at Wallack's Theatre, New York, on 14 November 1874.[1] Boucicault played Conn in the original production. The play was a huge success, making half a million dollars for Boucicault, which he squandered.


The play is about Robert Ffolliott, fiancé of Arte O'Neil, who has returned to Ireland after escaping from transportation in Australia. At the play's onset, we are informed that Robert is a Fenian fugitive, but it soon becomes clear that he is no such thing; rather, he is an innocent local gentleman who was tricked into pledging himself to a criminal disguised as a Fenian whose intent was to then betray him to the police. A country squire who arranged the betrayal, Kinchela, who also conspires to force Arte into marriage, tries to hunt Robert down and arrest him, with the help of a police informer, Harvey Duff. Robert escapes various melodramatic cliffhanger situations with the help of Conn the Shaughraun (Irish seachránaí = wanderer, errant person), a roguish poacher who provides a great deal of comic relief.

Robert's sister, Claire Ffolliott, is in love with an English soldier, Captain Molineaux, who is tracking down Fenians in the area. She cannot decide whether or not to protect her brother or betray the Captain. However, Molineaux's fish out of water attitudes to rural Ireland provide comic relief, and all ends well. The Fenians receive a general amnesty, the couples marry, Kinchela is arrested, and Harvey Duff falls off a cliff.

In popular culture

The original production and cast is praised by the protagonist, Newland Archer, in Edith Wharton's 1920 novel The Age of Innocence which is set in 1870s New York.


  1. Parkin, Andrew. Selected Plays - Dion Boucicault. The Guernsey Press Co. Ltd. Great Britain: 1987. p.258

External links

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