Similarly in the final episode - when S.B. can’t sleep - he gets up and sees the cases outside Gar’s room. The stage directions note that he “goes over to them, touches the coat, goes back towards the table, and sits there, staring at the bedroom door”.

While S.B. may not communicate his feelings, Friel shows that the impending departure is playing on his mind and that he is going to miss Gar.

In contrast to S.B., Madge seems very emotionally open. This is evident when she loses control after her frustrations and exhaustion build up. We also see it in her ability to talk openly to Gar about his mother.

Yet she also hides her feelings at times. When her nephew and his wife have a baby she is delighted that they “are going to call this one Madge”. This is contrasted with her revelation in the final episode that “They’re going to call it Brigid.”

Madge doesn’t bring this up in her subsequent conversation with Gar, perhaps hiding her disappointment in much the same way many of the other characters hide theirs.

The boys too - despite this being the last time they will see Gar - seem unable or unwilling to communicate that they will miss him.

Their macho posturing and tales of girls and adventure - which Private’s contradictory commentary tells us is all untrue - seem to be a way to avoid talking about Gar’s imminent departure.

When Ned removes his belt and presents it to Gar as a leaving present, he is described using the adverbs "shyly, awkwardly". This shows that even during a farewell he is uncomfortable about any kind of real affection.

Friel shows us that even in the past this problem with communication was an issue. Aunt Lizzy recalls S.B. and Maire’s wedding day, and how her “shoulders are sorta working – you know – and you couldn’t tell whether she was crying or giggling – she was a helluva one for giggling – but maybe she was crying that morning”.

There seems to be a suggestion here that Maire wasn’t as happy in the marriage as S.B. and that she was perhaps trapped in a marriage with an older, rather cold man. However, because of the time and the circumstances, she just had to accept the consequences and ignore her regret.