Snack foods tend to be highly emphasized in McDonagh's plays, touched on in this article: "The Lord-Lieutenant’s Biscuit and the Irishman’s Spud: Ireland’s Iconic Snacks Blasphemed in Martin McDonagh’s Leenane Trilogy" By Christopher Morrison.

But McDonagh's use of snacks in a dramatic context is not restricted to the Leenane Trilogy--they are something of an obsession in The Cripple of Inishmaan, and they are often a point of passionate, sometimes violent, contention.

The linked article goes into great detail on the historical and sociopolitical implications of McDonagh's use of snacks, but that type of thematic foundation alone is not sufficient to carry a dramatic work. McDonagh's plays are celebrated and highly popular outside of Ireland, so there must also be a more immediate, relatable, and universal purpose for the device.


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If you look at Morrison's "Bread and Butter to Boiling Oil: From Wilde's Afternoon Tea to the Beauty Queen of Leenane," New Hibernia Review, Volume 14, Number 3, Autumn 2010, you will see that McDonagh could have taken the idea of insane battles over the most trivial of foodstuffs from the famous scene in The Importance of Being Earnest (Wilde 1895). In this, Cecily and Gwendolyn "politely" trade insults through the medium of cakes, bread and butter, and unwanted sugar.It is such a well known scene that McDonagh's conscious or unconscious elaboration of its comic motivations by means of Tayto crisps and Kimberley biscuits, and so forth, may resonate with anyone familiar with Earnest, a perennial favorite throughout the English speaking world.

  • Haha! I totally forgot about Wilde! Awesome answer.
    – DukeZhou
    Commented Jan 9, 2018 at 0:35

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