Harry C. Morrow (1865-1938)


Life
[pseud. and stagename “Gerald MacNamara”;] b. 27 Aug. 1865., Belfast; son of George Morrow of Comber, Co. Down, a house-painter and decorator and later proprietor of a business in same with his five sons, two (Fred and Jack) becoming involved in stage production and costuming while three others became well-known illustrators; Harry became head of the family firm in Belfast and simultaneously one of the most important actors and writers for the Ulster Literary Theatre, with Rutherford Mayne and Lewis Purcell;
 
Morrow was a brilliant comic actor; he wrote about eleven quirky comedies (burlesques, satires, fantasies) for Ulster Theatre, incl. the freq. revived Thompson in Tír na nÓg, which premiered Grand Opera House, 9 Dec. 1912 [var. played at Belvoir Park], and was his sole separately published play (1918); also sequel, Thompson on Terrafirma [q.d.]; with Lewis Purcell, Suzanne and the Sovereigns (1907), a burlesque on Orange and Green [Protestants & Catholics];
 
also wrote The Mist That Does Be on the Bog, an unpublished satire on sentimental peasant drama (Abbey, 1909), which became a bye-word, even among those who had not seen it; his further plays were The Throwbacks, and No Surrender: Who Fears to Speak, which was not published contemporaneously; many of his sketches and short plays appeared in The Dublin Magazine; d. 11 Jan. 1938, Belfast. DIL DUB OCIL

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Works
  • Thompson in Tír na nÓg (Dublin: Talbot 1918);
  • ‘Stage Directions for a Play called ‘‘William John Jamieson’’’, in Dublin Magazine, 1 (1923-24);
  • ‘Trans. from the Norwegian of Gibson’s Babes in the Woods’, in Dublin Magazine, 1 (1924);
  • Tcinderella [sic], in Dublin Magazine, 2 (1924);
  • ‘Little Devil Dought’, in Dublin Magazine, 2 (1925);
  • ‘Who Fears to Speak of ’98’ [viz., No Surrender], in Dublin Magazine, 4 [n.s.] (1929);
Collected Works
  • Kathleen Danaher, ed., ‘The Plays of Gerald MacNamara’, Journal of Irish Literature, 17 (May-Sept. 1988), [containing Suzanne and the Sovereigns; The Mist That Does Be on the Bog; Thompson in Tir-na-n-Og; No Surrender and Who Fears to Speak?].

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Criticism
  • Rutherford Mayne, ‘Gerald MacNamara’, in Dublin Magazine, 12 [n.s.] (1938), pp.53-56;
  • David Kennedy, ‘The Drama in Ulster’, in The Arts in Ulster, ed. Sam Hanna Bell (London: Harrap 1951), p.55 [extract];
  • Kathleen Danaher, ed., ‘Introduction’ to ‘Plays of Gerald MacNamara,’ in Journal of Irish Literature, [Gerald MacNamara Special Number] (May-Sept. 1988);
  • Kathleen Danaher, ‘Gerald MacNamara’ in Irish Playwrights, 1880-1995: A Research and Production Sourcebook, ed. Bernice Schrank & William Demastes (CT: Greenwood Press 1997), pp.194-205.;
  • Eugene McNulty, ‘Partition’s Fantastical Progress: Gerald MacNamara’s No Surrender! and the Performance of Northern Irish Satire’, in The Irish Review, Nos. 40-41 (Winter 2009), pp.127-40.

 

Commentary
David Kennedy, ‘The Drama in Ulster’, in Sam Hanna Bell, et al., eds., The Arts in Ulster (London: Harrap 1951), p.55, notes that ‘[] the shadowy darkness in which [Yeats’s] imagination swathed this strange world owed more to the theosophical vapourings of Madame Blavatsky than to the clear vision and precise images which are the authentic marks of Celtic literature. Ulster common sense instinctively rejected this charlatanism and guyed it in The Mist Does Be on the Bog’.

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References
D. E. S. Maxwell (Modern Irish Drama, 1984), lists only Thompson in Ti-na-nOg (Dublin 1918) [sic].

3 Geese Catalogue (1999) lists Thompson in Tir na nOg (Grand Opera House, 9 Dec. 1912; [pub. c.1912]).

Belfast Central Public Library holds Thompson in Tir-na-n-Og.

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Quotations
[from The Mist that Does Be on the Bog]: Clarence, ‘And you think, kind ladies, that I have the gift of the bards upon me?’ Cissie, ‘Sure it’s plain to be seen as the staff of a pike, for the beautiful words pour from your lips like a delf jug, and it full of buttermilk.’ (Cited by Louis Dieltjens in ‘The Abbey Theatre as a Cultural Formation’, Joris Duytschaever and Geert Lernout, eds., History and Violence in Anglo-Irish Literature [Conference of 9 April 1986; Costerus Ser. Vol. 71] Amsterdam: Rodopi 1988, pp.47-65; p.48.)

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Notes
Rutherford Mayne Papers: In the Rutherford Mayne Papers, donated by Mary and Flann Campbell to the Linen Hall Library, Nov. 1993, MacNamara features as having played with the Fionn cycle in Thompson in Tir na nOg; Aonghus explains why he has given the heroes English to speak; ‘Our temper have [?left] us with the speech’; Thompson, ‘the last thing I mind was I was goin’ to the fight at Scarva’; thinks he’s in an asylum; ‘Call me Andy!’, to Grania; ‘I was blew up ... gun bursted in me hond’; Times is changed when the Newsletter calls it a pageant’; ‘fighting to Hibernians in Portadown’; ‘no believer in mixed marriages’; Thompson charged with trespass, and tried; Grania commissioned to find out if he is Irish as he says, and finds against; on Westminster rule, ‘Are you too lazy to rule yourself?’; Red Branch v. Black Preceptor; Gaelic characters are the High King [unnamed]; Finn MacCumail; Fergus; Maeve; Grania’.

Lady Anne’s Walk (1903), a miscellany of historical reminiscences, supplied the theme of the ‘sham fight at Scarva’ which features in the mis-en-scène of Thompson in Tir na nÓg [see Richard Kirkland [on Cathal O’Byrne] in Bullán: Journal of Irish Studies, IV, 2 (Winter 1999/Spring 2000), pp.67-82.

See pictures: North Strand Rush by Jack Morrow in Irish Review. 4, 38 (April 1914); The Seaweed Gatherers by Jack Morrow, in Ibid., 3, 30 (Aug., 1913); September Sunshine by Jack Morrow, in Ibid., 3, 33 (Nov., 1913), and The Beggars by Jack Morrow, in Ibid., 1, 12 (Feb., 1912). See also a painting of Jack Morrow by Estella Solomon in the Irish Review, 4, 37 (March 1914) [Information supplied by Lucille Redmond; email of 16.07.2104].

 

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