Riders to the Sea

Michael is Maurya’s son who disappeared before the action of the play begins and thus does not appear onstage. Much of the play’s opening is devoted to characters discussing whether or not Michael is still alive, which brings a mood of foreboding throughout the play. Maurya has a vision of Michael’s ghost riding behind Bartley, which is a sign that Bartley will die next. Indeed, Michael’s presence seems to have returned in order to take Bartley, the last remaining man of the household, with him into the next life.

Michael Quotes in Riders to the Sea

The Riders to the Sea quotes below are all either spoken by Michael or refer to Michael. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Spirituality and Mourning Theme Icon
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Dover Publications edition of Riders to the Sea published in 1993.
Act 1 Quotes

It’s a hard thing they’ll be saying below if the body is washed up and there’s no man in it to make the coffin, and I after giving a big price for the finest white boards you’d find in Connemara.

Related Characters: Maurya (speaker), Michael
Related Symbols: The White Boards
Page Number: 63
Explanation and Analysis:
Quotes explanation long mobile

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If it was a hundred horses, or a thousand horses you had itself, what is the price of a thousand horses against a son where there is one son only?

Related Characters: Maurya (speaker), Bartley, Michael
Related Symbols: Bartley’s Horses
Page Number: 63
Explanation and Analysis:
Quotes explanation short mobile

In the big world the old people do be leaving things after them for their sons and children, but in this place it is the young men do be leaving things behind for them that do be old.

Related Characters: Maurya (speaker), Michael
Page Number: 65
Explanation and Analysis:
Quotes explanation short mobile

And isn’t it a pitiful thing when there is nothing left of a man who was a great rower and fisher, but a bit of an old shirt and a plain stocking?

Related Characters: Nora (speaker), Michael
Page Number: 66
Explanation and Analysis:
Quotes explanation short mobile

He went by quickly; and “the blessing of God on you,” says he, and I could say nothing. I looked up then, and I crying, at the gray pony, and there was Michael upon it—with fine clothes on him, and new shoes on his feet.

Related Characters: Maurya (speaker), Bartley, Michael
Related Symbols: Bartley’s Horses
Page Number: 68
Explanation and Analysis:
Quotes explanation short mobile

There does be a power of young men floating round in the sea, and what way would they know if it was Michael they had, or another man like him, for when a man is nine days in the sea, and the wind blowing, it’s hard set his own mother would be to say what man was it.

Related Characters: Maurya (speaker), Michael
Page Number: 69
Explanation and Analysis:
Quotes explanation short mobile

Michael has a clean burial in the far north, by the grace of the Almighty God. Bartley will have a fine coffin out of the white boards, and a deep grave surely. What more can we want than that? No man at all can be living for ever, and we must be satisfied.

Related Characters: Maurya (speaker), Bartley, Michael
Related Symbols: The White Boards
Page Number: 71
Explanation and Analysis:
Quotes explanation short mobile
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Michael Character Timeline in Riders to the Sea

The timeline below shows where the character Michael appears in Riders to the Sea. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Act 1
Spirituality and Mourning Theme Icon
Fate and Mortality Theme Icon
The Power of the Sea Theme Icon
...a shirt and stocking from a drowned man in Donegal who may be their brother Michael. The wind blows open the door, spurring Cathleen to ask Nora if the young priest... (full context)
Fate and Mortality Theme Icon
The Power of the Sea Theme Icon
...Maurya attempts to keep Bartley from taking the rope, as they might need it if Michael’s body washes up. She then reflects on the injustice of having paid so much for... (full context)
Spirituality and Mourning Theme Icon
Age and Gender Theme Icon
...is gone and, while she’s at it, to give him his blessing. Nora gives her Michael’s old walking stick to steady her, and Maurya sadly reflects on the irony of the... (full context)
Fate and Mortality Theme Icon
Age and Gender Theme Icon
The Power of the Sea Theme Icon
...of stocking. After counting the stitches in the stocking, they realize it must indeed be Michael’s, for Nora remembered dropping four stitches when making it. They are overcome with grief at... (full context)
Spirituality and Mourning Theme Icon
Age and Gender Theme Icon
The Power of the Sea Theme Icon
...up the path, and decides that they will not tell her about the proof of Michael’s death until Bartley returns from his voyage. The girls busy themselves, and Maurya comes in... (full context)
Spirituality and Mourning Theme Icon
Fate and Mortality Theme Icon
...say “God speed you” to Bartley, the words choked in her throat. She then saw Michael in fine clothes and shoes riding behind Bartley on a gray pony. Cathleen immediately begins... (full context)