William Boyle

1853-1923; b. 4 April, Dromiskin, ed. St Mary’s College, Dundalk; civil servant [DIL, working as an excise officer till retirement in 1914] and friend of Parnell; A Kish of Brogues, short stories; wrote early Abbey plays, The Building Fund (Maunsel 1905; rep. in Abbey Theatre Series VII 1906]; The Eloquent Dempsey (1906); The Tale of a Town (1906) and The Mineral Workers (Maunsel 1906); he dined with Miss Horniman after the Playboy riot and was so shocked by her anti-national stand that he withdrew his plays from the theatre; The Mineral Workers (Maunsel 1906) was scheduled for performance on Easter Monday, 1916; d. Dublin; there is a notice on his death in Holloway’s Irish Theatre (1968-70). IF DIW DIB DIL FDA OCIL

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Fiction, A Kish of Brogues (London: Simkin & Marshall 1899).

Plays, The Building Fund (Dublin: Maunsel 1905); The Mineral Workers (Dublin: M. H. Gill 1910) The Eloquent Dempsey (Dublin: M. H. Gill 1911); Family Failing (Dublin: M. H. Gill 1912).

Miscellaneous, ‘Irish Drama New Style’, in Glasgow Observer (6 April 1907), p.5 [important statement of reasons for withdrawing plays]; ‘In Ireland [our Irish letter] and Uproarious Scenes in Theatre’, in Do. (2 Feb. 1907), p.6; ‘Mr Boyle’s Protests’, in Do. (9 Feb. 1907), p.9; ‘On the Screen, The Playboy’, in Do. (6 Feb. 1907), p.9 [editorial]. All cited in Paul Levitt, Bibliography of Published Criticism (Shannon: IUP 1974).

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Cheryl Herr
, For the Land They Loved (Syracuse UP 1991, notes William Boyle’s criticism of the mannered style of acting at the Abbey as exemplified in a production of Lady Gregory’s Kincara, when communicated to W. B. Yeats, drove the poet away without saying a word. The exchange is reported in Holloway, Nat. Lib. MS 1803 (Vol. I; 24 April 1905; Herr, p.18-19). Herr further remarks that Boyle, unused to the Abbey’s conventions but apparently schooled in those of the Queen’s, failed to perceive ‘nature’ where he was supposed to.

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Irish Literature, ed. Justin McCarthy (Washington: University of America 1904) gives extract, ‘The Cow Charmer’, from A Kish of Brogues.

Stephen Brown, Ireland in Fiction (Dublin: Maunsel 1919); ed. St Mary’s College, Dundalk; poems, songs and plays, including some of the best modern comedies; atmosphere of his stories is thoroughly Irish and their humour and pathos are genuine. A Kish of Brogues (O’Donoghue 1899, 252pp.; humour and pathos of Co. Louth; author knows the people thoroughly, and understands them; much very faithful character-drawing of many Irish peasant types, and a few good poems [Brown].

Paul Levitt, Bibliography of Published Criticism (Shannon: IUP 1974), cites William Boyle, ‘Irish Drama New Style’, Glasgow Observer (6 April 1907), p.5; ‘In Ireland and Uproarious Scenes in Theatre’, Do. (2 Feb. 1907), p.6; ‘Mr Boyle’s Protests’, Do. (9 Feb. 1907), p.9; ‘On the Screen, The Playboy’, Do. (6 Feb. 1907), p.9.

Robert Hogan, ed., Dictionary of Irish Literature (Dublin: Gill & Macmillan 1979), cites variant publishing dates, The Building Fund (Maunsel 1905); The Mineral Workers (Gill 1910) The Eloquent Dempsey (Gill 1911); also Family Failing (Gill 1912) [no collected plays cited here]. Severed connection with Abbey in protest against Synge’s Playboy, but returned in 1912. NOTE, William J. Feeney, the author of the DIL article, also mentions Nic (1906), an unpublished play in which there is a tragic figure - a gentle old farmhand who, urged to improve his lot, robs his employer. The play, together with The Mineral Workers, represents Boyle’s interest in the clash of old traditional ways with ‘modern ideas’; ‘examine the impact of modern ideas on traditional Irish life’; [some] ‘humorous studies of “deadly” sins, avarice in Building Fund, political duplicity in Dempsy, and indolence in Family Failing (1912).

D. E. S. Maxwell, Modern Irish Drama (Cambridge UP 1984) lists The Building Fund (Dublin: Maunsel 1905); The Eloquent Dempsey (Dublin: Maunsel 1906); The Mineral Workers (Dublin: Maunsel 1907). ‘With the exception of The Building Fund, a farce, the plays are desolate enough.’

Seamus Deane, gen. ed., The Field Day Anthology of Irish Writing (Derry: Field Day 1991), Vol. 2; no extracts; note however citations in D. E. S. Maxwell’s editorial essay on ‘Irish Drama 1899-1929’, 563-64 [Such was the work of William Boyle which the Abbey seems to have presented and his audiences to have received as farcical comedy [though] the Building Fund and The Mineral Workers are in fact quite bitter portrayals of rural materialism and sharp practice]; 565 [documentary statements]; 568 [content to tell a plain tale, echoing the newspapers outside the theatre].

Hyland Books (1997) lists The Mineral Workers, A Play in 4 Acts [1st edn.] (1910).

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