The play deals with ordinary people caught up in the 'Rising' in Ireland in the early 1900s and the First World War. They live in a tenement in Dublin. The characters are strong and well portrayed. They are trying to make sense of it all as it happens around them.
At the end of the play, one question still demands of us an answer:
'Is there anybody goin', Mrs. Clitheroe, with a tither o' sense?'
Here are two of the puzzled characters:
'Fluther. We're all Irishmen, anyhow; aren't we?
The Covey (with hand outstretched, and in a professional
tone). Look here, comrade, there's no such thing as an
Irishman, or an Englishman, or a German or a Turk;
we're all only human bein's. Scientifically speakin', it's
all a question of the accidental gatherin' together of
mollycewels an' atoms.
Fluther. Mollycewels an' atoms! D'ye think I'm goin' to
listen to you thryin' to juggle Fluther's mind with
complicated cunundhrums of mollycewels an' atoms?
The Covey (rather loudly). There's nothin' complicated
in it. There's no fear o' the Church tellin' you that
mollycewels is a stickin' together of millions of atoms o'
sodium, carbón, potassium o' iodide, etcetera, that,
accordin' to th' way they're mixed, make a flower, a fish,
a star that you see shinin' in th' sky, or a man with a
big brain like me, or a man with a little brain like you!
Fluther (more loudly still). There's no necessity to be
raisin' your voice; shoutin's no manifestin' forth of a
All quotes are from 'The Plough and the Stars' by Seàn O'Casey, edited by Seàn Moffatt