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By the Bog of Cats

4.03  ·  Rating details ·  615 ratings  ·  49 reviews
Set in the mysterious landscape of the bogs of rural Ireland, Carr's lyrical and timeless play tells the story of Hester Swane, an Irish traveller with a deep and unearthly connection to her land. Tormented by the memory of a mother who deserted her, Hester is once again betrayed, this time by the father of her child, the man she loves. On the brink of despair, she embarks ...more
Published December 2nd 2004 by Faber Faber (first published January 1st 1998)
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Average rating 4.03  · 
Rating details
 ·  615 ratings  ·  49 reviews

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Nov 16, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: plays, own, irish, 2018
One of the many reasons I love Irish lit is that its signature fusion of comedy and tragedy is something I find so shockingly, painfully honest. I love reading something that has me laughing out loud on one page, and has me covering my mouth in horror on the next. Mastering that tonal shift is a fine line to walk, but Marina Carr manages it with aplomb here.

By the Bog of Cats is a play about a traveller woman called Hester, who feels a deep connection with the bog she lives on, but who's being
Sep 10, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: z2016, plays, fiction
A very dramatic and interesting Irish play. It was quite dark and sad and I really liked that. I'd definitely recommend it.
Sep 09, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Updated review: I had to reread this play for another literature class, and I can confidently say that I loved it just as much the second time around. If you are a fan of dark literature, you absolutely must read this, and read it immediately.

If all of my english class readings were like this, I would be a very happy person. Riveting, demented, dark, and just a little bit disturbing: all in all a fantastically entertaining read. I got through it all in one sitting, partly because I had nothing
Kevin (Irish Reader)
I read this play for my english class and really enjoyed it! I'm slightly confused by the last line but I still enjoyed it!
John Pistelli
Mar 25, 2020 rated it liked it
Like many a literary work of the so-called postmodern period, Marina Carr's famous 1998 play By the Bog of Cats is a critical echo chamber of prior texts, whether near or far in space and time from its setting in the Irish midlands in the late 20th century. The literature of prior eras lacked neither for influences nor allusions, but postmodern writers call on precursors neither to buttress their own intellectual authority (à la Dante or Milton) nor to stabilize their otherwise unwieldy subject ...more
Mark Woodland
Jul 28, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
What a curious play.... but one worth reading, and one that does read well on its own (though if you have a chance to see a production, don't pass it up). Set in the midlands of Ireland in a small town by, as the title says, the Bog of Cats, it features a cast of strong individual characters, with very distinct desires and agendas of their own. This sets up a nice interweaving of conflicts; two characters can both be said to be "against" another, but for completely different reasons. Each scene ...more
Sophie Elizabeth
I have read many, many Irish plays in my time at college, but this one is hands-down my favourite.

Something about the content is utterly hair-raising and plays upon highly emotive themes of land and identity, all the while rooting it in a sort of conflict between wilderness and society.

They're playing it at the Abbey Theatre in Dublin around my birthday this August and I am already looking forward to going to see it.
Nov 27, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Mar 27, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
My brother gave me this play to read and I absolutely loved it. It was a sad play that followed quite an imperfect character, but she was interesting and real. She did some bad things for no good reason, and she was quite a bad person but its a nice break from the typical hero or heroine. She was left behind by everyone she loved, and it broke her beyond repair. This was a great, cathartic play to read and I think its one of my favorites. ...more
Dec 07, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: reading-for-uni
TW: suicide, child abuse, alcoholism, child neglect, murder, self-harm, sexual assault

Where do I even start with this play? It is definitely a lot. Very heavy hitting. But I like the circularity of the play. It definitely has a few plot twists you don't see coming. I though I knew how this was ending... boy was I wrong.

The characters are... something?? I really enjoyed the fantastical elements of this play. I still haven't fully processed it but uhm... it's a lot.
Jaime Tamar
Viscerally horrifying. Hard to read because 80% of the lines are yelling and it gets tiring in your head after awhile. Also it's written in dialect so you feel like you have to read it in an Irish dialect but thats easier said than done. But the story was very poignant and the imagery incredibly effective.
Sep 07, 2017 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Read this mainly because of the midlands setting. I honestly don't get modern Irish drama. Such an odd melange of elements at once old fashioned and modern and just plain weird.

Personal to CRES: if you ever read this, please explain it to me.
Alicia Margarita
Jan 14, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
a dark and gut-wrenching reinterpretation of the medea myth, with a deeper delve into the cycles of abuse, the yearning of the abandoned, and the self-fulfilling prophecy of the tortured main character, set against a lush background of the irish midlands
Polaris Hall
Jan 31, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
One of my all-time favorite reads. I worked on producing this show and the story was so powerful and gripping I'll never forget. Swane's journey in some way resonates within everyone, and the satisfying tragedy fulfills what the readers knows must happen, but dreads nonetheless.
Nov 08, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
that was WAY worse than i ever imagined oh my God
Eden Nicholls
Jul 31, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Yes. Modern day Medea.
Mar 18, 2018 rated it it was ok
Shelves: degree
This was on my reading list for uni. Possibly the most depressing play Ive ever read ...more
Mar 07, 2018 rated it it was ok
Shelves: read-for-class
Read it for my Irish Literature class. It was a weird story and a sad ending.
Nov 28, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Its a modern take on Medea.
Just This
Feb 12, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction, 2018
weird, kooky play about a messed up lady who lives on a bog... fantastic dialogue & spooky hints
Mar 05, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
One of the most heartbreaking plays I've read in a while. It wasn't what I expected but reading it with my class, we laughed and cried (almost) such a sad life Hester had. Love Marina Carr
(╯`▭´)╯︵ (dǝꓭ ƨ'ɒnɒ⅃) ǝɔnɒꓷ

I liked it a little better than Medea. Still really weird, though.
Ghida Aswad
Apr 19, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Funny. Dark.
May 25, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
My oh my, where do I start? This was my first traditionally Irish play, so I don't have a ton of experience with the genre, but I found it to be very interesting! I loved the accents and the cultural depth they provided, especially for myself as an outsider. I enjoyed how the darkness of the play came on gradually. It was kind of strange at first and a bit off, but as you keep reading, you realize just how dark and messed up things are. And then the end...I won't spoil it but I did not see that ...more
Sep 01, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Corvus
Recommended to Kay by: Medea
Well, this was basically Irish Medea. I can understand and appreciate the literary aspects of this play, but at the end of the day, I'm still not a huge fan of Medea. I don't know, something about responding to a spouse's unfaithfulness with murder simply doesn't appeal to me. I daresay it sounds ridiculous and would likely be a good indicator that the perpetrator is insane. But if you're a fan of Medea, then you might like this more modern take on the classic. It sheds new light on an old ...more
Oct 05, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
At first, I was reluctant to read this book because it was for my English class; however, I was immediately hooked on to the mystery surrounding Hester and the complex relationships that sprouted among the characters. What appeared to be simple intentions turned into plot twists that completely threw me off.
This was an amazing read and was even paced; suspense and angst were sprinkled throughout the play and I absolutely loved it.
Would recommend 9/10.
Feb 25, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
By the Bog of Cats is a wonderful piece of work. The darker the story becomes the more its beauty shines. The story is loosely based off of the tragedy Medea by Euripides, but has evolved into a force of its own. There's a complex psychological layer over the bleak purgatorial stretch of landscape. The Catwoman is my favorite character, every aspect about her is fascinating. I would love to see this on the stage as it is intended.
May 06, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Dark, intense, and poignant. Carr is the next big thing in Irish theatre, and her Midland trilogy offers the perfect example of the power of her writing. She masterfully pulls from Greek tragedies in all three Celtic Tiger era plays (The Mai, Portia Coughlan, and By the Bog of Cats ...) while exploring notions of 'Irishness' and identity in a rapidly changing country. Warning: Not to be read by the faint of heart.
My jaw actually dropped in the last scene. I have only read one other Marina Carr piece (THE CORDELIA DREAM), but several other contemporary Irish dramas, and I have two conclusions. 1) Modern Irish drama is a dark, scary place right now (thanks, Carr, McDonough, and McPherson). 2) By comparison, CORDELIA DREAM was a delightful piece. I can appreciate Carr's craft, but I struggled with this one.
Apr 03, 2011 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: drama
Recommended to me by a friend and worth the time for the startling images of witchcraft and ghosts throughout. I do wonder what makes this update of Medea particularly pertinent, outside of its relationship to Irish ownership and fatality (something may not be translating cultures for me), but all in all, a spooky, engaging read.
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