Piaras Béaslaí (1881-1965)

[var. Beaslaí; anglice Piers Beasley]; b. Liverpool; educ. by Jesuits; became ed. of English Catholic Times; moved to Dublin, 1904; fnd. Gaelic Speakers League; arrested for part in “Playboy riot”, 1907; gave up post with Evening Telegraph, Dublin, to work for Gaelic League; fnd. ed., An Fáinne, and fnd. Society of Gaelic Writers; ed. board Irish Freedom; joined Irish Volunteers; ed. An tOglach; served as president of Na hAisteoirí [Risings], dramatic society; proposed the motion that Gaelic League constitution should include the goal of an independent Ireland, Gaelic and free from foreign influence at the 1915 Ard Fheis, purportedly the inspiration of Pearse's oration at Donovan Rossa's graveside and the immediate occasion of Douglas Hyde's resignation from the League Presidency;
participated in 1916 Rising, as vice-commandant to Ned Daly in the Four Courts; engaged British forces in North King St.; worked closely with Collins at headquarters as IRA Publicity Director; imprisoned in Mountjoy, 1916 and later Strangeways, Manchester, from which he escaped, escaped in March 1919; recaptured after 3 months; elected TD East Kerry, Dec. 1918-12; elected TD West Limerick, 1921-23; voted for Treaty in 1921; appt. Commandant General of the National Army and head of Press Censorship Dept. during Civil War; toured America, 1922; toured USA on publicity campaign, 1922; published ‘Comrade’s Tribute’ in An Saorstát (30 Aug. 1922);
issued Cluiche Cártí (1920); published Political Formulae Instead of Principles (1922); resigned from Free State Army, 1923 [var. 1924]; commissioned to write the life of Michael Collins by the dead man’s elder br. Seán, on behalf of the family, and produced Michael Collins and The Making of the New Ireland (2 vols., 1926), heavily criticised by Richard Mulcahy, P. S. O’Hegarty, and others as underestimating the collective contribution; he later claimed that members of De Valera’s cabinet ordered raids on his home in which papers were removed in Oct. 1925; won Gold medal for play in Irish, Tailteann Games 1929; issued Astronar (1928), a novel;
wrote Danar (1929), a play; plays collected as A Sgaothaire agus Cúig Drámaí Eile (1929); also An Bhean Chródha (1931), Cuigheachas (1936), An Fear as Buenos Aires (1936), An Fear Fograidheachta (1938), a farce; Cormac na Coille (n.d.) and Fear an Sgéilín Grinn (n.d.); trans. Goldsmith, She Stoops to Conquer (1939) and wrote The Story of the Catholic Commercial Club, Dublin 1881-1954 (?1957); coined the term ‘irregular’ used to designate Republican forces in 1922; d. 22 June, Dublin; his life of Collins, though scanty on details of Collins’s private life, was reprinted by De Burca in a boxed set in 2009. DIW DIB DIH OCIL

[ top ]

Drama, Fear na Milliún Púnt (Dublin 1915); An Sgaothaire agus Cuig Dramaí Eile (Baile Atha Cliath 1929), 172pp [poetry and plays]. Poetry, Bealtáine 1916 & Dánta Eile (1920); Éigse nua-Gaedhilge [cuid 1-11] (1933-34). Fiction, Astronár (1928); Earc agus Áine agus Scéalta Eile (1946).

Prose, Michael Collins and The Making of the New Ireland, 2 vols. (Dublin: Phoenix 1926), and Do., as Michael Collins: Soldier and Statesman [abridged 1 vol. edn.] (Dublin: Talbot Press 1937), xii, 430pp., with pls. & ports. [see also under Michael Collins, infra].

Miscellaneous, ed., Songs, Ballads, and Recitations by Famous Irishmen (Dublin: Walton Musical Instrument Galleries [n.d.]).

[ top ]

Deirdre MacMahon, ‘“A Worthy Monument to a Great Man”: Piaras Béaslaí’s Life of Michael Collins’, Bullán: An Irish Studies Journal, Vol. 2, No. 2 (Spring/Summer 1996), pp.55-65.

See also lengthy citations and disparagements of Béaslaí’s Michael Collins and the Making of a New Ireland, in St. John Ervine, Craigavon (1949), pp.404 and 435.

[ top ]

Henry Boylan, Dictionary of Irish Biography (Dublin: Gill & Macmillan 1988): b. Liverpool, ed. local Jesuit College; ed. Catholic Times, England; arrived Dublin, 1904; fnd. An Fáinne; president of Na hAisteoirí [Rising], dram. soc.; proposed motion that Gaelic League should stand for free and Gaelic Ireland independent of foreign influence, leading to resignation of Hyde, 1915 congress; fought in N. King St. area in 1916 Rising; escaped jail in Ireland and from Strangeways, Manchester; Dir. Publicity IRA; voted for Treaty in 1921; toured USA on publicity campaign, 1922; head of press censor dept. during civil war; RD East Kerry, 1918-21; comm.-gen. of army; TD Kerry and West Limerick, 1921-23; resigned from army, 1924; Gold medal for play in Irish, Tailteann Games 1929; also Astronar (1928), novel; An Danar (1929), [play]; d. Dublin, 22 June.

Doherty & Hickey, A Chronology of Irish History Since 1500 (Dublin: Gill & Macmillan 1989); lists works titles Cluiche Cártí (1920); Political Formulae Instead of Principles (1922); Michael Collins and the Making of a New Ireland (2 vols., 1926); A Sgaothaire agus cúig drámaí eile (1929); Danar (1929), [play]; An Bhean Chródha (1931); Cuigheachas (1936); An fear as Buenos Aires (1936); Michael Collins, Soldier and Statesman (1937); Cormac na Coille [n.d.]; Fear an sgéilín grinn [n.d.], [play]; The Story of the Catholic Commercial Club, Dublin 1881-1954 (Dublin: Piaras Beaslai Publisher ?1957, var. 1958); ed. Arthur Griffith, Songs, Ballads and Recitations [n.d.]; trans. Goldsmith, She Stoops to Conquer (1939).

University of Ulster at Coleraine, Morris Collection holds Éigse No-Ghaedhilge, cuid a haon agus a do, 2 vols. (c. 1935).

[ top ]

Ernie O’Malley, The Singing Flame, pref. by Frances-Mary Blake (Dublin: Anvil Books, 1978), p. 7; notes that Béaslaí coined the term ‘irregular’ for the Republican forces in 1922 (p.7)

Tom McIntyre accredits Beaslaí’s two-volume life of Collins, the end of which ‘left me [McIntyre] quivering’, with the inspiration for his own Good Evening, Mr Collins, in Frank McGuinness, ed., The Dazzling Dark: New Irish Plays (London: Faber 1996), ‘Afterword’, p.231ff.

[ top ]