T. C. Murray (1873-1959)
[Thomas Cornelius Murray; pseud. The Serf;] b. 17 Jan. 1873, in Macroom, Co. Cork; ed. St. Patricks TTC, Drumcondra, on Queens Scholarship, 1891; worked as national school teacher at Carrignavar, Cork City, and later at Carrigtwohill; appt. principal in Rathduff, 1900; encouraged by Corkery to write; submitted The Wheel of Fortune (1909; revised as Sovereign Love, 1913) to the Cork Drama Societys Little Theatre (An Dún), and revising in response to constructive criticism by family and friends; contrib. New Ireland Review, Dublin Magazine, and The Bell;
his plays produced at the Abbey were Birthright (1910), the ending of which he implored Lennox Robinson to alter during production; Maurice Harte (1912), which travelled on to the Royal Court (London) during the Abbey tour of that year; Murray experienced bitter opposition from a clerical [eccles.] manager especially directed at Maurice Harte (1912); issued Sovereign Love (1913); accepted post as head of Model School[s], Inchicore, Co. Dublin, 1915-32, moving to Dublin with wife and five children;
wrote The Serf (Abbey 1920), based on his former struggle with the local priest in Cork; also The Briery Gap (1922), and Autumn Fire (1924), a version of the Phaedra story dealing with the case of a farmer rendered impotent by an accident who choses a proxy to father his child; considered his masterpiece, has echoes of Ibsen; later plays, The Pipe in the Fields; Michaelmas Eve; Illumination, &c., rework older material; Spring Aftermath (1922) is an autobiographical novel of childhood;
appt. director of Authors Guild; elected President of the Irish Playwrights Association, and Vice-President Irish Academy of Medals & Letters; awarded NUI DLitt, 1949; spent his last years in seclusion; d. 7 March 1959, in Dublin; there is a portrait by Seán OSullivan, 1929 [NGI]; Murray enjoyed immense popularity with amateur drama societies; some of his plays were translated into Irish; a dg. Helena (1928-2013) appeared in his plays and worked and died in Hollywood. IF DIB DIW DIH FDA OCIL WJM
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- Birthright (Dublin: Maunsel 1911);
- Maurice Harte (Dublin: Maunsel 1912), rep. with Stag at Bay (London: Allen & Unwin 1934);
- Spring and Other Plays [viz., Sovereign Love and The Briery Gap] (Dublin: Talbot 1917);
- Aftermath, A Play in Three Acts (Dublin: Talbot 1922);
- Autumn Fire: A Play in Three Acts (London: Allen & Unwin 1925);
- The Pipe in the Fields [1 Act Play], in The Dublin Magazine 2 (April-June 1927), pp.7-30, rep. with Birthright (London: Allen & Unwin 1928);
- Michaelmas Eve: A Play in Three Acts (Allen & Unwin 1932);
- Spring Horizon (London: T. Nelson & Sons 1937).
|Richard Allen Cave, ed., Selected Plays of T. C. Murray (Gerrrards Cross: Colin Smythe 1999), xxiv, 272pp. [contains Sovereign Love, Birthright, Maurice Harte, The Briery Gap, Autumn Fire, The Pipe in the Fields, an essay on George Shiels, Brinsley MacNamara, &c., and Illumination [prev. unpubl.], & bibliographical checklist.
[ top ] Criticism
- Dorothy Macardle, The Dramatic Art of T. C. Murray in The Dublin Magazine, 2 (Jan 1925), pp.393-98;
- T. Hogan, T. C. Murray, Envoy, 3 (Nov. 1950), pp.138-48;
- Mícheál Ó hAodha, T. C. Murray and some Critics, in Studies, 47 (Summer 1958), pp.185-91;
- Ó hAodha, T. C. Murray - Dramatist, in Plays and Places (1961) [q.pp.];
- T. Connolly, T. C. Murray, The Quiet Man, in The Catholic World 190 (March 1960), pp.364-69;
- N. Sahal, Sixty Years of Realistic Irish Drama, 1900-1960 (Bombay: Macmillan 1971), xi, 220pp., ill.;
- T. G. Fitzgibbon, The Elements of Conflict in the Plays of T. C. Murray, in Studies 64 (Spring 1975), pp.59-65;
- Albert J DeGiacomo, Remembering T. C. Murray, in Irish University Review (Winter/Autumn 1995), pp.298-307;
- James Burke, T. C. Murray in Bernice Schrank & William Demastes, ed., Irish Playwrights, 1880-1995: A Research and Production Sourcebook (CT: Greenwood Press 1997), pp.243-52;
- Albert J. deGiacomo, T. C. Murray: Dramatist: Voice of Rural Ireland (Syracuse UP 2003), 212pp.
See also Richard Cave, Irish Versions of the Phaedra Story, in Marianne McDonald & J. Michael Walton, eds., Amid Our Troubles: Irish Versions of Greek Tragedy (London: Methuen 2002), qpp.
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Robert Hogan, ed., Dictionary of Irish Literature (Dublin: Gill & Macmillan 1979), notes a typescript of Illuminations  in Boston College Library; remarks, Incompatible marriage is a recurring theme in Murrays middle period ... although [he] worked with combustible material - murder, insanity, families in conflict (how often the old disable the young), clerical influence, incest - he was not a controversialist. Primeval passions are disciplined by his intense Catholicism, and the result is a darkly brooding view of life ... The comic muse was not his friend; his comedy, A Flutter of Wings (Gate 1929), rejected by Abbey; other plays cited, The Blind Wolf (1928), afterwards titled The Karavoes, set in Hungary; A Stag at Bay, set in England; Illumination (1929) is the Maurice Harte theme with a happy ending; The Pipe in the Fields (1927) departs from realism; a planned sequel of Spring Horizon never materialised. [William J. Feeney]; bibl. as under Works, supra.
Desmond Clarke, Ireland in Fiction: A Guide to Irish Novels, Tales, Romances and Folklore [Pt. 2] (Cork: Royal Carbery 1985), cites Spring Horizon (1937), pp.37; adolescent development - psychological study, set in Co. Cork in Land League days; central character, Stephen Mangan; viewpoint Catholic and nationalist. DIL remarks, a gently paced autobiographical novel of growing up in Cork ... a planned sequel never materialised.
D. E. S. Maxwell, A Critical History of Modern Irish Drama, 1891-1980 (Cambridge UP 1984), lists Birthright (Maunsel 1911); Maurice Harte (Maunsel 1912); Aftermath (Talbot (1922); Autumn Fire (Lon. 1925; Bost. 1926); Michaelmas Eve (Lon. 1932).
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Seamus Deane, gen. ed., The Field Day Anthology of Irish Writing, gen. ed. (Derry: Field Day 1991), Vol. 3, selects Birthright [659-74]; 717-18, BIOG & COMM as under Life and Commentary - supra.
Helena Sheehan, Irish Television Drama, A Society and Its Stories (RTE 1987), lists TV films, Autumn Fire, T. C. Murray, adpt. Adrian Vale/dir. Jim Fitzgerald (1965). .
Belfast Central Public Library holds Aftermath (1922); Autumn Fire (1925); Birthright (1911); Maurice Harte (1912); Spring and other plays (1917, 1926); also [prob. unrelated] Jonathan Swift (1954).
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