George Fitzmaurice (1877-1963)


Life
b. Bedford Hse., nr. Listowel, North Co. Kerry; third son & tenth of twelve children of Protestant clergyman and namesake (d.1891) who married dg. of one his Catholic tenants, Winifred (née O’Connor; m. 1861); his father confined his mission to preaching at St. John’s, Listowel; family moved to cottage at Kilcara, nr. Duagh, on death of his father, 1891; young George exposed to rural traditions among visitors to farm kitchen; sent to school; read Walter Scott among many other authors; started work in Cork bank, soon returning home; commenced story-writing and publishing in Weekly Freeman, 1900 and Irish Weekly Independent and Nation, 1900; joined Land Commission, 1901, receiving minimum wage up to 1925;
 
contrib. “The Crow of Mephistopheles: A Study in Simplicity” to The Shanachie, 1907; wrote The Toothache, a play, never performed and discovered in 1965; submitted The Country Dressmaker (1907) to the Abbey, where it played successfully, rescuing the theatre after the publicity fiasco of Synge’s Playboy in the same year - Luke Quilter, the man from the mountains, being a particular favourite with audiences; revived eight times during Feb. 1912 and Sept. 1913; wrote a series of plays amalgamating ‘peasant realism’ with supernatural folk-tales and fantasy, often figuring an overly imaginative character [‘airy’ or ‘touched’] bent on fulfilling an eccentric ideal, and willing to die at it; protractedly absent from work due to congested liver, 1908-1913;
 
The Pie-Dish premiered at the Abbey, 10 March 1908, with Lady Gregory’s Teja and Yeats’s Golden Helmet ; revived six times, 1908-1912, being toured to Manchester 1909, Oxford 1910, Cambridge and London, 1911; also The Moon-lighter (1912), a 4-act play dealing with agrarian activism and dissension in a family of whom the son, Eugene Guerin, is a member of the secret organisation and the father a reformed previous member; includes a vengeance murder on the part of the leader of the moonlighters; The Magic Glasses (1913), a story of fantasy and disillusion; The Dandy Dolls, in which the priest confronts the Hag’s Son, rejected by Yeats and Lady Gregory in 1911, published in Five Plays (1914) [with another by John Guinan], and first staged by Austin Clarke by the Lyric Players, 1945 [Lyric Th.], and posthum. by the Abbey in 1972; revived at the Abbey in 2004;
 
Fitzmaurice enlisted in the British Army in 1916 and served in World War I and returned with neurastenia rendering him fearful of crowds; ceased attending the Abbey and visited music-hall instead; returned to stage after long absence with ’Twixt the Giltinans and the Carmodys (Abbey 1923); residing at 51 Leinster St., Phibsboro, in 1923; wrote The Linnaun Shee (1924) in opposition to Yeats and ‘his cult of the fairies’ (acc. to Austin Clarke); eight of his plays were printed by Seumas O’Sullivan in Dublin Magazine, 1924-57; wrote The Waves of the Sea, in which Slanty Mane and Rich Danagher are Cinderella and Prince Charming; the play was rejected by the Abbey (Aug.-Sept. 1923); became increasingly reclusive at his flat at 3 Harcourt St., Dublin, refusing Michael Ó hAodha of Radio Éireann permission to broadcast The Dandy Dolls and The Magic Glasses, though The Country Dressmaker was transmitted;
 
d. 12 May, at Harcourt St.; bur. at Mount Jerome, without a headstone, though since erected by the Duagh Historical Society, 1995; Irish Times obit. (May 12 1963); Irish Press (22 May 1963), by Austin Clarke; described his characters as ‘wicked old children’, a phrase adopted for the title of posthumous RTÉ broadcast (“The Wicked Old Children of George Fitzmaurice”, 25 June 1972); also “For Him the Flowers Smile”, prodby . Tim Danagher in Treasure House Series (5 Nov. 1973); an image from The Magic Glasses provides a subject in Harry Clarke’s Geneva Window. NCBE DIB DIW DIL MAX OCIL FDA

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Works
Drama (publications)
  • Five Plays (Dublin: Maunsel 1914; Boston: Little, Brown 1917) [contains ‘The Country Dressmaker’; ‘The Moonlighter’; ‘The Pie-Dish’; ‘The Magic Glasses’, and ‘The Dandy Dolls’];
  • The Plays of George Fitzmaurice : Vol 1, Dramatic Fantasies, ed. & intro. by Austin Clarke (Dublin: Dolmen 1967), xv, 158pp. [contains ‘The Magic Glasses’; ‘The Dandy Dolls’; ‘The Linaun Shee’; ‘The Green Stone’; ‘The Enchanted Land’, and ‘The Waves of the Sea’];
  • The Plays of George Fitzmaurice : Vol 2, Folk Plays, ed. & intro. Howard K. Slaughter (Dublin: Dolmen 1969) [contains ‘The Ointment Blue, or The King of Barna Men’; ‘The Pie-Dish’; ‘The Terrible Baisht’; ‘There are Tragedies and Tragedies’; and ‘The Moonlighter’];
  • The Plays of George Fitzmaurice: Vol 3, Realistic Plays, ed. & intro. Howard K. Slaughter (Dublin: Dolmen 1970) [contains ‘The Toothache’; ‘The Country Dressmaker’; ‘One Evening Gleam’; ‘’Twixt the Giltinans and the Carmodys’; ‘The Simple Hanrahans’, and ‘The Coming of Ewn Andzale’];
  • The Crows of Mephistopheles, ed. & intro. Robert Hogan (Dolmen 1970).
also short works in JIL, 6 (Sept. 1978), incl. ‘Chasing the ghoul’, first printed in The Irish Emerald (24 June 1905), and The Wonderful Wedding, with John Guinan.
 
Short Fiction
  • “Peter Fagin’s Veiled Bride” in Maurice Walsh, ed., St. Patrick’s Day souvenir issue of Weekly Freeman (1900);
  • “Maeve’s Grand Lover” in The Irish Weekly Independent and Nation (17 Nov. 1900);
  • “The Plight of Lena’s Wooers”, The Weekly Freeman [Christmas Edition] (15 Dec. 1900);
  • “Peter Praisin”, in The Irish Weekly Independent on 1 June 1901);
  • “The Disappearance of Mrs Mulraney”, in The Weekly Freeman (16 Nov. 1901);
  • “The Bashfullness of Philip Reilly”, in The Weekly Freeman (19 March 1904);
  • “Cupid and Cornelius”, in Irish Weekly Independent (10 May 1906);
  • “The Streel”, in The Weekly Independent (2 March 1907);
  • “The Crows of Mephistopheles: A Study in Simplicity”, in The Shanachie No. 4. (1907).
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Criticism
  • Dublin Evening Mail [review] , ‘New Play at the Abbey Theatre’ (4 Oct. 1907) [extract];
  • Evening Telegraph [review], ‘The Country Dressmaker at the Abbey’ ( 27 Dec. 1907) [extract];
  • W. Haynes, ‘Another Irish Dramatist’, in Dial (13 Sept. 1917), pp.208-09;
  • Austin Clarke, Obituary of George Fitzmaurice, in The Irish Press (22 May 1963);
  • Maurice Kennedy, ‘George Fitzmaurice: Sketch for a Portrait’, in Irish Writing, 15 (June 1951), pp.38-46;
  • Liam Miller, ‘George Fitzmaurice: A Bibliographical Note’, in Irish Writing, 15 (June 1951), 47-48;
  • J. D. Riley, ‘The Plays of George Fitzmaurice’, in Dublin Magazine, 31 (Jan-March, 1955), pp.5-19;
  • Irving Wardle, ‘Reputations XV: George Fitzmaurice’, in The London Magazine, 11 (Feb. 1965) [q.pp.];
  • Gabriel Fallon, review of The King of the Barna Men, and The Magic Glasses, in The Evening Press (18 Sept. 1967);
  • Austin Clarke, Introduction to Clarke & Howard K. Slaughter, eds., The Plays of George Fitzmaurice, 3 vols. (1967-70) [shorter pieces printed in the Journal of Irish Literature, 6 Sept. 1978];
  • Mervyn Wall, ‘Resurrected Irish Playwright’, in The Irish Times (8 July 1967);
  • Howard K. Slaughter, ‘Fitzmaurice and the Abbey', in Educational Theatre Journal, 22 (May 1970), pp.146-54;
  • John P. Conbere, ‘The Obscurity of George Fitzmaurice’, in Éire-Ireland, 6, 1 (Spring 1971), pp.17-26 [infra];
  • Michael Ó hAodha, in ‘The Casting out of George Fitzmaurice?’, and ‘The Quest for George Fitzmaurice: 1877-1963’, in The Irish Times ([q.d.] 1971-72).
  • Liam Miller, ‘Fitzmaurice Country’, in The Journal of Irish Literature, 1 (May 1972), pp.77-89;
  • Matthew Nicholas Coughlin, ‘George Fitzmaurice’s The Magic Glasses ’, in Dublin Magazine, 10 (Autumn/Winter 1973/74), pp.94-115;
  • Howard K. Slaughter, George Fitzmaurice and His Enchanted Land (Dublin: Dolmen Press 1972);
  • Nora Kelley, George Fitzmaurice 1877-1963 (NY 1973);
  • Carol Gelderman, ‘Austin Clarke and Yeats’s Alleged Jealousy of George Fitzmaurice’, in Eire-Ireland, 8, 2 (Summer 1973), pp.62-70;
  • Arthur E. McGuinness, George Fitzmaurice [Irish Writers Ser.] (Lewisburg: Bucknell UP 1975);
  • Matthew Nicholas Coughlin, ‘Farce Transcended: George Fitzmaurice’s The Toothache ’, in Éire-Ireland, 10, 4 (Winter 1975), pp.85-100;
  • Robert Hogan, ‘The Genius of George Fitzmaurice’, in After the Irish Renaissance: a Critical History (Minneapolis UP 1976), cp.170;
  • John B. Keane, ‘A Pathetic Note Near Death Bed: Anyone Interested?’, in Limerick Leader (19 March 1977);
  • Carol W. Gelderman, George Fitzmaurice (Twayne UP 1979);
  • John Cooke, ‘’Tis Mysterious Surely and Fantastic Strange: Art and Artists in Three Plays by George Fitzmaurice’, in Irish Renaissance Annual, I (Delaware UP 1980), pp.32-35;
  • Jochen Achilles, ‘George Fitzmaurice’s Dramatic Fantasies: Wicked Old Children in a Disenchanting Land’, in Irish University Review, 15, 2 (1985), pp.148-63;
  • Jochen Achilles, ‘“The Glame from That Old Lamp”: The Unity of George Fitzmaurice’s Plays’, in Éire-Ireland, 20, 4 (Winter 1985), pp.106-29;
  • Fintan O’Toole, ‘The Magic Glasses of George Fitzmaurice’, in Gabriel Fitzmaurice, ed., The Listowel Literary Phenomenon: North Kerry Writers - A Critical Introduction (Clo Iar-Chonnachta 1994), pp.13-35 [extract];
  • Una Kealy, ‘“Mysterious and Fantastic Strange”: The Life and Art of George Fitzmaurice’ [PhD Diss.] Univ. of Ulster 2005) [extract];
  • Fiona Brennan, George Fitzmaurice: “Wild in His Own Way” - Biography of an Abbey Playwright (Dublin: Carysfort Press 2005), 241pp.
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    See also under Commentary [infra].

    See also remarks in Ernest Boyd, The Contemporary Drama in Ireland (Talbot Press 1918); Micheál Mac Liammóir, Theatre in Ireland [Cultural Relations Committee of Ireland] (Dublin: Colm O’Lochlainn 1950), p. 15; Andrew E. Malone, The Irish Drama (NY: Benjamin Blom 1965); Lennox Robinson, Ireland’s Abbey Theatre: A History [1951] (Port Wash., N: Kennikat Press 1968); Nicholas Grene, The Politics of Irish Drama: Plays in Context from Boucicault to Friel (Cambridge UP 1999).

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    Commentary
    Dublin Evening Mail [review], ‘New Play at the Abbey Theatre’ (4 Oct. 1907): ‘[The Country Dressmaker ] displays the Irish peasant of Kerry in a light scarcely less loveable than Mr. Synge’s “Parricide”. Yet, not a murmur of dissent impedes its easy flow. In The Playboy the Irish girls were debased enough to fall in love with a parricide. In The Country Dressmaker everybody seems to be a bad lot, save Julia.’ (p. 2; quoted in Una Kealy, ‘“Mysterious and Fantastic Strange”: The Life and Art of George Fitzmaurice’ [UU Doctoral Diss.] 2005.)

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    Evening Telegraph [review], ‘The Country Dressmaker at the Abbey’ ( 27 Dec. 1907) Much though Irishmen, filled with a genuine patriotic spirit, would wish to see their countrymen and countrywomen without serious blemish, it cannot be denied that such a type as “Michael Clohesy”, crafty, and treacherous and lying, finds his prototype in the flesh. It must be admitted that his scheming wife and quarrelsome daughters are not pure creations of the imagination. But there is the consoling reflection that they are the almost inevitable products of the twin degrading influences of Irish landlordism and centuries of foreign rule […] The whole picture which the author presents is incomplete. He might, without straining beyond the borders of accuracy, have introduced a few more lofty [sic] and more Irish types than appear in his conception. The scene is laid in North Kerry. But it is to a very much Anglicised community that the author introduces us. It even appears that it is from a cheap English periodical, and a sensational English weekly paper that the locality receives its literary sustenance […] There is no breath of the Gaelic League in the whole play, and no suggestion of the new National spirit which is sweeping over the country.’ (p. 2; quoted in Kealy, op. cit., 2005.)

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    W. B. Yeats [on The Country Dressmaker ]: ‘[…] a harsh, strong ugly comedy. It really gives a much worse view of the people than The Playboy . Even I rather dislike it, though I admire its sincerity, and it was received with enthusiasm. […] The dear Freeman […] has congratulated us on having got a play at last “[to] which nobody can take the slightest exception” or some such words, and yet Fitzmaurice, who wrote it, wrote it with the special object of showing up the sordid side of country life. He thinks himself a follower of Synge, which he is note.’ (Letter to John Quinn, 4 Oct. 1907; quoted in Howard Slaughter, George Fitzmaurice and his Enchanted World, 1972, p.21, ftn.; cited in Kealy, op. cit., 2005.) Further, ‘This is an issue very difficult to fight, for we will never make the ordinary man of the pit with The Leader and Sinn F éin taking up the case against us, believe that we are not suppressing young talent. How can we make them understand that The Playboy which they hate is fine art and that The Dressmaker which they like is nothing[?]’ (Letter to J. M. Synge, 30 Dec. 1907; NLI, Microfilm 5380; quoted in Kealy, op. cit., 2005.)

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    W. B. Yeats: ‘Lady Gregory is afraid and I think rightly so, that Fay and Vaughan are looking for a cause of quarrel and that the cause they will try for is that we are suppressing, or are trying to suppress, popular work like The Dressmaker in the interests of our own unpopular work. This is an issue very difficult to fight, for we will never make the ordinary man of the pit believe that we are not suppressing young talent with The Leader and Sinn Féin taking up the case against us. How can we make them understand that The Playboy which they hate is fine art and that The Dressmaker which they like is nothing.’ (Letter to J. M. Synge, dated 30 December 1907; Microfilm 5380, NLI; quoted in Kealy, op. cit, 2005.)

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    Padraic Colum: ‘We should have forced Yeats and Lady Gregory to accept Fitzmaurice as they forced Dublin to accept Synge’ (Quoted in Irving Wallace, ‘George Fitzmaurice’, in London Magazine, Feb. 1967, p.69; cited in Kealy, op. cit., 2005.)

    Joseph Holloway [1]: ‘I was speaking to George Fitzmaurice, and he said that he thought The Clancy Name the strongest bit of drama in the Abbey repertoire. Robinson will do something big in drama yet. There is material for a three-act drama in his first effort. He then asked me what I thought of Casey’s play, and I said I did not think it by any means as effective as his first piece, The Man Who Missed the Tide . He was surprised that such a piece as The Suburban Groove was played at the Abbey, but couldn’t tell me why. The swell, Claude Callan, seemed to puzzle him as to why he was introduced. There was not sufficient in the “plot” to carry over three acts, he thought, and the construction was faulty. He owned up, however, that Casey was the most popular dramatist at the Abbey at present […] Fitzmaurice is of the opinion that Dervorgilla without Sara Allgood in the title role would be excessively tedious.’ (Impressions, 10 October 1908; in Robert Hogan and James Kilroy, The Abbey Theatre: The Years of Synge 1905-09, Dublin: Dolmen Press 1978, p. 227; Kealy, op. cit., 2005.)

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    Joseph Holloway [2]: ‘Next Thursday, the Abbey awakes from its slumbers with Fitzmaurice’s new three-act comedy, The Country Dressmaker . This is the play that Yeats some time ago said would require soldiers to keep the audience quiet when produced. Next week will tell its tale, and I fear there will be no audience hostile or friendly to see it as The Playboy rows have weaned the Dublin public from the House of Irish Drama. It has ceased to exist for most of its former patrons [sic] (Quoted in Howard Slaughter, George Fitzmaurice and his Enchanted Land, Dolmen: Dublin, 1972, p. 18.) Further, ‘No troops required not even a policeman at the Abbey tonight […] Yeats is a false prophet where Irish character is concerned. […] A large, fashionable and most appreciative audience assembled to do the playwright justice […] The large audience was delighted with the comedy.’ (Slaughter, idem.; quoted in Kealy, op. cit. 2005.)

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    Joseph Holloway [3]: ‘I was introduced to young Fitzmaurice, the writer of The Country Dressmaker, and found him a nice, unassuming fellow with, I am sorry to say, a hankering after Synge and his methods of presenting the Irish character on the boards. We had a long argument over the matter, but he was of the same opinion in the end, I fear. He thinks hardly of the Irish peasant, but agreed that the state was a place for selection, and everything one say or heard should not be crudely noted down and served up for townsfolk’s consumption. Much of the peasant’s ways would seem hard and coarse and be misunderstood by audiences in the Abbey, for instance. I like Fitzmaurice, and hope he won’t be spoilt by the cult.’ (Joseph Holloway’s Abbey Theatre: A Selection from his Unpublished Journal “Impressions of a Player-goer”, ed. Robert Hogan & Michael J. O’Neill, S. Illinois UP 1967, p.95; quoted in Kealy, op. cit., 2005.)

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    Micheál Mac Liammóir, Theatre in Ireland (1950 [1st Edn.]): ‘Among these men was George Fitzmaurice, a kind of literary Rousseau le Douanier, who bridged the worlds of fantasy and reality in a manner that is only today beginning to find a real appreciation.’ (p.15).

    Andrew E. Malone, The Irish Drama (NY: Benjamin Blom 1965), on The Pie Dish (1908): ‘For some reason, which cannot be explained, this play was always received with hilarity in the Abbey Theatre. In no other play is there elaborated the theme of the frustration of the artist in Ireland and the struggle between the Paganism of the artist and his Christian environment. It is probable that the complete misinterpretation of this little play did much to retard the growth of appreciation which its author deserved.’ (Quoted in Printed in Maurice Kennedy, ‘George Fitzmaurice: Sketch for a Portrait’, in Irish Writing, 15 June 1951, p.39).

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    John P. Conbere, ‘Fitzmaurice’s next (and best) play, The Dandy Dolls, was not accepted. Mr. [Austin] Clarke hints that Yeats and Lady Gregory rejected the play out of jealousy: I was much puzzled by their rejection of the play and then a strange thought flashed into my mind, I happened to be in London at the time and I went straight to the Periodical Room of the British Museum and looked up in dusty files the press notices of The Magic Glasses when it was brought to London by the Abbey Company. My unworthy suspicion proved right. A. B. Walkley had praised the play as the best in a small repertoire, which included plays by Yeats and Lady Gregory. Other leading dramatic critics were as enthusiastic. After that, The Magic Glasses disappeared from the Abbey stage. // There is a fallacy in Mr. Clarke’s argument, if this may be called an “argument”. He based his suspicion on English reviews. As is illustrated in the Irish Independent review, the Irish critics were antagonistic toward The Magic Glasses . This difference of opinion between English and Irish critics were evident with respect to The Pie-Dish also.’ (p.21 in Conbere, ‘The Obscurity of George Fitzmaurice’, in Éire-Ireland, 6, 1, Spring 1971, pp.17-26.) Note that Clarke had written: ‘[…] two Abbey directors [Yeats and Lady Gregory] deliberately kept Fitzmaurice off the stage as they feared to be overtaken by him as they had already been overtaken by Synge’ (‘Obituary’, in Irish Press, 22 May 1963, p.8; partly reprinted in Intro. to Dramatic Fantasies, Dolmen 1967.)

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    D. E. S. Maxwell, Modern Irish Drama (Cambridge UP 1984), remarks: ‘Fitzmaurice’s first play, The Country Dressmaker, went on at the Abbey on 3 Oct. 1907. Yeats, writing to Synge about charges that the Abbey was suppressing popular plays, had this to say of it, “How can we make [the audience] understand that The Playboy which they hate is fine art and The Dressmaker which they like is nothing?” … The Abbey presented The Magic Glasses on 24 April 1913, also the year when F. wrote The Dandy Dolls, which after Yeats’s discourteously managed rejection of it remained unproduced until 1945.’ Maxwell adds a page of commentary on the plots of The Magic Glasses and The Dandy Dolls (p. 67-68.)

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    Fintan O’Toole, ‘The Magic Glasses of George Fitzmaurice’, in Gabriel Fitzmaurice, ed., The Listowel Literary Phenomenon: North Kerry Writers - A Critical Introduction, Clo Iar-Chonnachta 1994, pp.13-35: ‘Unafraid to see the world as complex and contradictory, as perverse and wonderful in all its perversity, he was an increasingly uncomfortable figure for a society looking for a simple definition of itself.’ (p.25.) Further: ‘Fitzmaurice accepted the world they [Yeats and Lady Gregory] went about inventing a world […] he was at home in the twentieth century while they felt themselves to be, in some degree, refugees from it.’ (Ibid., p.16; both cited in quoted in Una Kealy, op. cit. 2005.)

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    Una Kealy, ‘“Mysterious and Fantastic Strange”: The Life and Art of George Fitzmaurice’ [PhD Diss.] Univ. of Ulster 2005): ‘The most interesting of Fitzmaurice’s dramatic texts are those in which he is less concerned with the practicalities of marriage bargains and social criticism and more interested in metaphysical problems. He sets out in this other range of plays to explore the experience and difficulties of living a life that is true to oneself, while at the same time acknowledging its absurdity. Essentially it is a more subjective drama that attempts to highlight in a moment of performance and/or perception, the essence of life as it is experienced in fleeting moments of joy, sadness, energy, lethargy, clarity and uncertainty. / In The Pie Dish, The Magic Glasses, and The Dandy Dolls, Fitzmaurice foregrounds the artist, a newcomer to the world of the peasant drama, and depicts him as vulnerable and oppressed by a society that threatens to crush his spirit and imagination through meanness, philistinism and an overwhelming pressure to conform to society’s demands. In addition to this, his work explores the struggle of the creative process and the intellectual and emotional demands of talent and inspiration. It is Fitzmaurice’s focus on the individual, his experimentation with abstract expressionistic styles, and his attempt to embody the concerns of his work in form and subject matter that allies him with Modernist and Expressionist writers.’ (p.169.) [Cont.]

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    Una Kealy (‘“Mysterious and Fantastic Strange”: The Life and Art of George Fitzmaurice’ [PhD Diss.] Univ. of Ulster 2005) - cont.: ‘The world that Fitzmaurice creates is one in which supernatural superstition is not a positive force as it deludes rather than inspires and paralyses the mind and body rather than freeing it to greater spiritual awareness. The reality of this world is that men like Daniel Tobin concentre on and value physical labour and modern conveniences rather than perserving archaic traditions and beliefs or defening what they consider to be a dying language. The characters of The Linnaun Shee [1924] regard a belief in fairies as the kind of nonsense used to impress the so-called intellectuals who travelled to the country from Dublin, imitating the sounds that they imagined made up the language of a culture that they fundamentally failed to understand. / The suggestion that a belief in Irish fairy and folklore can be taken as an indication of madness is a reversal of the Yeatsian notion that such beliefs were spiritually uplifting. Whereas Yeats celebrates the rural population’s propensity to believe in the supernatural, likening it to the artist’s spiritual awareness and connectedness to past and future, Fitzmaurice’s dreamer figure is considered by his community as more lunatic than luminary.’ (p.305.) [Cont.]

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    Una Kealy (‘“Mysterious and Fantastic Strange”: The Life and Art of George Fitzmaurice’ [PhD Diss.] Univ. of Ulster 2005) - cont.: ‘What sets Fitzmaurice’s work apart from that of his contemporaries is his use of comedy to create a dramatic experience that pushes the boundaries of realism into a more absurd realm, which is then undercut, by anti-climax or bathos. The one-act plays show Fitzmaurice attempting to resolve metaphysical rather than social problems within his drama. These are not the dreamy whimsical metaphysics of nostalgic nationalism however, but the more knotty problem of how he as a dramatist might portray life as it essentially is, for he is interested in a deeper quality than surface realism. It is not the charting of observable phenomena or presenting a social and material reality that interests him, instead his drama explores and attempts to recreate a world of lived inner experience, along with its joys and difficulties. [END]’. Note: Kealy reassesses the plays in the light of their full significance, ignored by his revival contemporaries, and especially their relation to the philosophy of Paul Henri Thierry and Baron d’Holbach (1723-89) whom Fitzmaurice read with enthusiasm and whose view of chimaera he seems to have adopted in his plays.’ [Kealy supplies much of the information and citations on these pages.]

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    Quotations
    The Magic Glasses (1913), Jaymony: ‘Women. Full of the purtiest women was ever seen on the globe. It’s myself got very fond of one of them and maybe of two. And in the glass I could see myself and the one I was doting on, and we together for the six days of the week. Times we’d be talking and times there wouldn’t be a word out of us at all, our two mouths in one kiss and we in a sort of a daze. It’s after saying I am that we’d be together for the six days of the week. But that wouldn’t satisfy us, and we’d be together for the three hundred and sixty five days of the year; and it wouldn’t satisfy us, and for ages an ages we’d be in Tirnanogue, and it isn’t satisfied we’d be still.’ (Dramatic Fantasies, p.12.) Maineen [observing Jaymony’s legs, which are seen sticking up above debris of top loft ]: ‘More likely it’s Jaymony is kilt. [goes to ruins of top loft; with considerable surprise, throwing her arms wide ] And he is kilt! [bringing her hands together with a slap ] Glory be, if it isn’t kilt entirely he is, and his jugular cut by the Magic Glasses! (Ibid., 16.)

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    The Green Stone [q.d.]: ‘All the farmers are the same, blowing and snorting like crocodiles, making fortunes for their sons and daughters, and the sons and daughters the same after. […] This going on for generations, till in the heel there’s only one son, maybe a pet, who starts eating and drinking the fortunes before he as his second teeth itself, and generally dies of spontaneous combustion before he is forty years of age. I enjoy myself all right down in the glen, giving little tips on the green stone - tell the blackbird if there is danger coming to the nest - the blackbird understands tips as well as I do myself, and he sings for me the finest notes, for I’m tell you, myself and that bid we’re the biggest friends.’ (p.66; quoted in Kealy, op. cit., 2005.)

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    The Country Dressmaker (1907) - Julia: ‘[…] My pride and obstinacy wouldn’t let me give in Pats Connor was not what I thought him all these years. [going to window and looking out ] It’s a queer woman I was to be thinking of him for ten years, morning, noon, and night. It’s a terrible thing that I have done. It’s for this man that I scorned the heart that cherished me [sic].’ (Dramatic Fantasies, Dolmen 1967, p.45; quoted in Kealy, op. cit. 2005.) Matt: ‘He is going with them. We have him in the finish! We have him, we have him! Maryanne is a great woman. Keep your hold of him, Maryanne! He is shaking his head at Luke Quilter. Good man, Pats Connor. Ah, look at the mountainy bococh catching him by the tail of the coat and whispering lies into his ears! He won’t come with him, will he? Good woman, Maryanne. She has him again, and Babe and Ellie are pulling him. Fine girls! Who is that thing running across the field? Min Dillane! That she may break her leg! They are all tearing him. He is going with Maryanne and Babe and Ellie. He’s going with them. He’s gone with them. He is on our side at last, and so help me! It isn’t a screed of a dressmaker will put the comether on him again. Do you hear me, Julia Shea, we have him!’ (Ibid., 55-56.) Julia: ‘I suppose I can’t be going against them all. But it isn’t making the best of it I am, Min, but like Lady Clara I am as the ox going to the slaughter. Not because of the German woman, Min – for I now confess all to you – or any crime he might have done, but because he is what he is and isn’t what he was, Min. Love died the first minute I saw him at Clohesys, and my dreams for ever were over.’ (Ibid., 56-57.)

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    The Country Dressmaker (1907) - Luke Quilter [the mountain man]: ‘’Tis little you know of the man from the mountains. Don’t be having any doubt on my power to persuade this strange daughter of your, Norry Shea. It is my delight to tackle a contrary woman. I'm noted for it all over Cornamona. Since I married the third wife I’m like Alexander the Great that didn't know what to do with himself after conquering the wide world. Peg M’Assy, the poor thing, is as quiet and obedient as a tame duck. But in the two more, God rest them , ha! ’Twas here Luke Quilter showed himself the master!’ (Quoted on George Fitzmaurice page of Kerry Writers Museum website [online; 24.06.2009].)

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    The Dandy Dolls (1911) - Roger: ‘In the name of God, is it in the other world I was, with yourself and your dinner-calls? The devil’s cure to you for a bog-lark, what a burst of music comes from you in the heel of the day, the people raising their heads and gaping at you from far and near! The Lord be thanked my doll was finished, for there’s a rasp in your cracked old windpipe that would frighten a horse from his oats, and many a time that same old screamer was the means of my making a faulty doll. (Ibid., p.27.)

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    The Moonlighter (1912) - Malachi: ‘[…] And, indeed, it’s now I know, and maybe I knew it a long time, that all who rose up and fought for Ireland, howsoever they rose up and fought for Ireland, were the great-hearted and the kind. And ‘tis like the red sun myself and Peter would be seeing rising above the blue hills and we going to the fairs on the frosty mornings, like the red sun rising up before us to the east chasing away the blue haze of the dawn, so will the fame of Peter rise grandly to the coming time, and it’s a long day of glory will be on Peter surely.’ (Folk Plays, p.149.) ‘Synan [the moonlighter’s leader]: ‘’Twas this hand that did what it did to Murt Horan, the unfortunate wretch, who was my bosom friend and schoolfellow a long time before! “And would you hurt me, Synan?” said he, and we in the lonesomest place with the moon shining in the frosty sky. “Pray to your God”, I said. “Sure you wouldn’t injure me, Synan”, said he; “sure, you wouldn’t pull the trigger for the world”, said he. “Pray to your God”, I said. And again he was beginning to jabber, but … !’ [making a sharp clap with his hands ] A walk of seven miles through lonesome fields I had after doing it, boys of Meenanaar, and ‘twasn’t for myself I did it, Morisheen Lucy.’ (Folk Plays, p.114.)

    The Linnaun Shee (1924) - Julia; ‘Whether or which, if a whisper of this goes about, the people are bound to be shaking their heads and they no longer giving in to Linnaun Shees. That won’t benefit the prospects of your marrying son and daughter, Hanora, for, have no doubt on it, what they will be saying is that you or Jamesie, or maybe the pair of you itself, are airy - gone and touched.’ (Dramatic Fantasies, pp.47-48; all the foregoing quoted in Una Kealy, “George Fitzmaurice”, UU Doctoral Diss. 2005.)

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    Literary sale: ‘Author is prepared to sell outrigt all rights in 14 plays dealing intimately with life in the Irish countryside. Most have already been either produced or published, suitable to which build musical, television, &c. Pass to anyone interested. (Note among Fitzmaurice’s papers; quoted in Howard Slaughter, George Fitzmaurice and His Enchanted Land, Dolmen 1977, pp.40-41; quoted in Kealy, op. cit., 2005, p.16.)

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    References
    Brian Cleeve & Anne Brady, A Dictionary of Irish Writers (Dublin: Lilliput 1985), gives bio-dates 1878-1963; further details as supra; also wrote for The Dublin Magazine, whose ed. Seumus O’Sullivan was a life-long friend; for many years he lived in deep seclusion.

    Brian de Breffny, ed., Ireland: A Cultural Encyclopaedia (London: Thames & Hudson 1983) cites Arthur McGuinness, George Fitzmaurice (1975).

    Seamus Deane, gen. ed., The Field Day Anthology of Irish Writing (Derry: Field Day 1991), Vol. 2: selects The Dandy Dolls [674-77]; FDA2 adds bibl., W R Sanger, ‘Caught Between Tradition and Experiment, George Fitzmaurice’s The Moonlighter ’, in H. Kosok, ed. Studies in Anglo-Irish Literature (Bonn: Bouvier 1982).

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    D. E. S. Maxwell, Modern Irish Drama (Cambridge UP 1984), lists The Magic Glasses, the Dandy Dolls, The Linnaun Shee, the Green Stone, The Enchanted Land, the Waves of the Sea, in The Plays of George Fitzmaurice, Vol 1, Dramatic Fantasies, intro. by Austin Clarke (Dolmen 1967); The Ointment Blue, The Pie-dish, the Terrible Baisht, There are Tragedies and Tragedies, The Moonlighter, in do., Vol. 2, Folk Plays, intro. by Howard K. Slaughter (Dolmen 1970); and The Toothache, The Country Dressmaker, One Evening Gleam, ’Twixt the Giltinans and The Carmodys, The Simple Hanrahans, The Coming of Ewn Anzdale, in do., vol. 3, Realistic Plays, intro. by Howard K. Slaughter (1970). Also Five Plays, The Country Dressmaker, The Moonlighter, The Pie-dish, the Magic Glasses, The Dandy Dolls (Maunsel 1914; Boston 1917). Bibl., Carol Gelderman, George Fitzmaurice (Lewisburg: Bucknell UP 1975); Nora Kelley, George Fitzmaurice 1877-1963 (NY, 1973).

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    Notes
    The Magic Glasses (1913): Jaymony escapes into a world of ‘seas and mountains and cities, grand horses and carriages, and all the wild animals of the earth’, only to come back to ground with a bump when the loft to which he retreats fatally collapses. Jaymony: ‘Wisha, ’tis better than being in the slush - same old thing every day - this [is] an ugly spot, and the people ignorant, grumpy, and savage.’ (Quoted in Una Kealy, “George Fitzmaurice”, UU Doctoral Diss. 2005.)

    The Dandy Dolls (1913), in which Roger Carmody is the doll maker devotes himself to his art at the expense of his family’s living. In it the priest confronts the Son of the Hag of Barna, who controls him. Cauth [wife of Roger:] ‘Woeful suffering is all the benefit he has from his trumpery dandy doooks, we starved; and there is that leaking oven, and there is that hole in the thatch, and there we are without a pot-hook on which to hang the pot’ . (DD, p.21; quoted in Kealy, op. cit., 2005.)

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    The Pie Dish (1908), in which Leum Donoghue covers a pie-dish with ornamentation: ‘Mother do be talking it’s no cookery wille very be done in it because all of them putty figarios that’s on it, and I heard her say of a day, overright the old man himself, that ’tisn’t the geraniums she put in it itself.’ (p.45.) ‘There, it’s in bits now, and what it was or what it wasn’t no one in the wide world will be a pin’s point the wiser for every more.’ (Pie-dish, p.56; Kealy, op. cit., p.3.) Leum begs God and then the devil to give him time to finish the dish, drops it and dies in a fit of rage and frustration. (All cited in quoted in Kealy, op. cit., 2005.)

    The Green Stone : Martineen Collopy has been idling, ‘finding diversions out of an old green stone’ for twenty years to the cost of his farming family, and finally flings it into the fire causing it to fill a receptacle with coins for each of the family but himself. Eleanor Collopy: ‘And indeed, Martineen and his green stone is no longer a joking matter, and he the big expense to us, faith, going in an idle man, with the rates rising to the moon’; further, ‘[…] slush all over him [Sylverster] from morning to night; and he making a virtue out of it - the poor dickens, and he not much above a cow or a horse himself’ […]; [to which Eleanor, with asperity:] ‘[…] believe you me, but for Sylvester and his digging, ’tisn’t you would be having your three meals a day quietly for yourself and your good suit of clothes on your back.’

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    The Ointment Blue : Dermot encounters a the son of the Hag of Barna in youth and is given the ointment blue which makes him champion at all sports, crowned as ‘King of Barna’; he is finally rejected by the hag (The Linnaun Shee ) but wins a wife who is not only royal but rich on her own account.

    The Country Dressmaker: Julia Shea, an unmarried woman of 27 in love with Pats Connor who emigrated to America ten years earlier and whom she has been misled into believing sends her messages through Ellie and Babe Clohesy; she therefore refuses Edmund Normyle, who turns to the local matchmaker Luke Quilter. This results in a promise from Julia to marry him in three months if she has not heard from Pats, who now unexpectedly returns, the news of his return having been withheld by the Clohesys whose father, Michael, wants him for either Babe or Ellie and who intends to sell him a “mountainy farm”. Meanwhile, Ellie and Babe begin to scheme against each other in competition for the newly-arrived suitor. Discovering the deception played on Julia, Pats proposes to her. Though disappointed to find him so little like the young man she remembers, she accepts his proposal but then sends a note to Edmund declaring her preference for him. Edmund however is on his way to marry Bridget Gildea whom Luke Quilter has found for him in the neighbouring parish. Pats intercepts the note and withdraws his proposal but he and Julia are persuaded to marry by her mother and neighbours on the basis that a a loveless marriage is better than none.

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    Another Synge?: Yeats wrote to John Quinn of the Abbey audience: ‘They don’t mind Fitzmaurice because they don’t think he is at anything, but they shrink from Synge’s harsh, independent, heroical, clean, windswept view of things. They want their clerical conservatory where the air is warm and damp.’ (Quoted in Eamon Grennan, review of The Plays of George Fitzmaurice, Vol. 1, in The Dublin Magazine, Autumn/Winter 1967, p.92ff.) Further, on The Country Dressmaker : […] a harsh, strong ugly comedy. It really gives a much worse view of the people than The Playboy . Even I rather dislike it, though I admire its sincerity, and it was received with enthusiasm. […] The dear Freeman […] has congratulated us on having got a play at last “[to] which nobody can take the slighest exception” or some such words, and yet Fitzmaurice, who wrote it, wrote it with the special object of showing up the sordid side of country life. He thinks himself a follower of Synge, which he is note.’ (Letter to John Quinn, 4 Oct. 1907; quoted in Howard Slaughter, George Fitzmaurice and his Enchanted World, 1972, p.21, ftn.; cited in quoted in Kealy, op. cit., 2005.)

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    Ted McNulty, ‘The Playwright – Harcourt St.’, a tribute poem: ‘I think George Fitzmaurice/you’re not dead at all,–but still in that room/high up on the bricks/and I’m not fooled/by the open air roof,/cement blocks in a windows,/a bush growing in the chimney,/tricks I’d use myself. (‘The Playwright – Harcourt St., in “Around St Stephen’s Green” [series], On the Block (Salmon 1995).

    Baron Thierry d’Holbach (1723-89; a major intellectual influence on Fitzmaurice): ‘Experience teaches that Nature acts by simple, regular and invariable laws. It is by his senses, man is bound to this universal Nature; it is by his perception he must penetrate her secrets; it is from his senses that he must draw experience from her laws. Therefore, whenever he neglects to acquire experience or quits its path, he stumbles into an abyss; his imagination leads him astray’ (The System of Nature, NY : Garland Publishing 1984, Vol. 1, p.6; quoted in quoted in Una Kealy, “George Fitzmaurice”, UU Doctoral Diss. 2005.)

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    Wicked Old Children’: Fitzmaurice told Austin Clarke that his characters were “wicked old children” (See Clarke, ‘Introduction’, Dramatic Fantasies (Dublin: Dolmen 1967, p. viii.)

    Bryan MacMahon, The Storyman (1994) includes an account of his meeting with Fitzmaurice.

    Posthumous productions include The Linnaun Shee (Lyric, 1949); The King of Barna Men and The Magic Glasses (Abbey, 1967); The Dandy Dolls (Abbey, Sept. 1969; revived Abbey 2004).

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