There’s an old Irish saying, “Bíonn súil le muir ach ní bhíonn súil le tír.” It means: “There is hope from the sea, but there is no hope from the land.” When a man was lost at sea, as long as the body didn’t wash up, there was always hope that he was alive somewhere. When someone disappeared at sea, even years later, loved ones might be hoping he was still okay and yet to return. But when an absent person had been put into the ground and buried, there was never any hope that they would come back through the door.
Riders To The Sea was written by J.M. Synge. The version staged here is the public domain version available at http://www.gutenberg.org/files/994/994-h/994-h.htm