Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Observe the Sons of Ulster Marching Towards the Somme” as Want to Read:
Observe the Sons of Ulster Marching Towards the Somme
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

Observe the Sons of Ulster Marching Towards the Somme

3.85  ·  Rating details ·  249 Ratings  ·  12 Reviews
'This powerful and subtle play... follows the experience of eight men who volunteer to serve in the 36th (Ulster) Division at the beginning of the First World War. It reaches a climax at the start of the terrible battle of the Somme on July 1, 1916, the actual anniversary of the battle of the Boyne in 1690. The Somme, where the Ulster Division suffered heavy casualties, ha ...more
Paperback, 80 pages
Published July 28th 1986 by Faber Faber
More Details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

Be the first to ask a question about Observe the Sons of Ulster Marching Towards the Somme

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
Rating details
Sort: Default
Di S
Mar 18, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: i-own-it
Read this for a literature course I'm taking. I don't read a lot of drama and it took a while for me to get into the flow of the character interchanges. Very gritty and poignant though and I'm now glad to have read it.
Tonight I watched the play, and it was powerful. About love and morality, faith and friendship - the things that pull us through the worst of it all, how we are changed by all of it. I've been skimming different sections of the book to relive the strength of the play ever since the play let out - in fact, in the intermission I was reading the opening bits, to hear them again in my mind. The actors did a brilliant job in the show, a moving performance all around.

I even went in and willingly under
océane (une.bibliotheque)
(review to come)
May 23, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: ireland, drama
An Irish-Catholic from the South reflects sorrowfully on young Ulster Protestants being offered up to Mars. Read along with Sebastian Barry's A Long Long Way.
Lou (BooksAreAWayOfLife)
2.5 Stars

Another play for my dissertation. It was a really good source... the play is just incredibly... depressing. It's an Anti-war play from the perspective of a Company of men, with one of them surviving the war and remembering what happened, and his mates. I didn't particularly enjoy reading the play, but I could imagine the play to be really moving if was performed.
May 12, 2017 rated it did not like it
I love drama, I really do, but this piece was one of the most boring plays I've ever read.
My opinion might change if I saw it performed on stage...
Joanna Philip
Jun 26, 2016 rated it it was amazing
One of the most moving and powerful pieces of drama I have encountered in a while. I saw this in the theatre with fantastic actors who commanded the utter attention of the audience through superb character performance and stunning interpretation of the work. I then bought the play myself to read as the theatre had left me curious and wanting more...

The play is set in WW1 in the lead up to the Battle of the Somme where over one million soldiers lost their lives. However, instead of being a play b
Emily  Philbin
Oct 10, 2013 rated it it was amazing
McGuinness does an excellent job of re-visioning a WWI drama: instead of a focus on the battles, etc. the audience is left with only eight young men who are fighting for Ulster; who understand that they will die for Ulster. Done in four parts, McGuinness hooks the audience immediately with Kenneth Pyper seemingly alone on stage yet soon revealing he is haunted by the seven men he fought alongside; Pyper was the only survivor. The most beautiful part in my opinion is Part 3 where the men are pair ...more
Rachel Terry
Jun 24, 2009 rated it really liked it
Shelves: drama
Eight young Protestant men in their twenties and early thirties enlist to fight for their country. In the beginning they joke around and tease each other about their differences and their backgrounds, but as death creeps closer, they begin to question their motives and realize that it's too late to go back. At the beginning, and old embittered Pyper greets the ghosts of his comrades and....yikes!
Apr 28, 2014 rated it it was amazing
A great play highlighting the struggles of the Irish Regiments in WW1 and the horrors of the Somme. McGuinness' writing makes it well worth the read, even if you have very little interest in war literature.
Jan 04, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: uni-books
Strange young men in a strange war.
Robert O Mahony
Dec 04, 2016 rated it liked it
Shelves: drama
Great concept, iffy execution
rated it it was amazing
Nov 14, 2013
rated it liked it
Mar 28, 2018
rated it it was amazing
Oct 25, 2017
Ryan Mccarthy
rated it it was amazing
Sep 02, 2012
rated it liked it
Sep 05, 2008
Jasmine Clarke
rated it liked it
Nov 03, 2017
Catherine Blanchard
rated it it was amazing
May 04, 2017
rated it it was amazing
Apr 13, 2012
rated it it was amazing
May 24, 2008
rated it liked it
May 27, 2017
Ash Carroll
rated it liked it
Jan 23, 2017
Austin Herbst
rated it liked it
Apr 01, 2015
rated it it was amazing
Jan 29, 2009
rated it really liked it
Nov 30, 2015
Deirdre Brady
rated it liked it
Jan 07, 2018
rated it it was amazing
May 09, 2010
rated it really liked it
May 19, 2017
rated it it was amazing
Jun 23, 2013
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »
  • Faith Healer
  • The Steward of Christendom (Dunne Family #1)
  • The Cheviot, the Stag and the Black, Black Oil
  • The Beauty Queen of Leenane and Other Plays
  • The Weir and Other Plays
  • Three Plays: Juno and the Paycock / The Shadow of a Gunman / The Plow and the Stars
  • Modern and Contemporary Irish Drama
  • The Lady's Not for Burning
  • John Bull's Other Island
  • One for the Road
  • Lost Lives: The Stories of the Men, Women and Children who Died as a Result of the Northern Ireland Troubles
  • The Royal Hunt Of The Sun
  • November
  • Sleuth
  • Cal
  • Killer Joe
Frank McGuinness is Professor of Creative Writing in University College Dublin. A world-renowned playwright, his first great stage hit was the highly acclaimed ‘Observe the Sons of Ulster Marching Towards the Somme’. He is also a highly skilled adapter of plays by writers such as Ibsen, Sophocles, Brecht, and writer of several film scripts, including Dancing at Lughnasa, and he has published sever ...more
More about Frank McGuinness