Flann O’Brien (1912-1966) - A Short Biographical View

  • b. Brian Nolan; usually Brian O’Nolan, Brian Ua Núallain or Ó Nualláin, 5 Oct. 1912, Strabane, Co. Tyrone.
  • Family moved to Dublin, 1923.
  • Educated at Christian Brothers’ School, Synge St., then Blackrock College and UCD.
  • Completed MA Diss., ‘Nádúir-Fhilíocht na Gaedhilge: Trachtas maraon le Duanaire’, 1934.
  • Edited Blather (6 issues; August 1934-January 1935) his brother Ciarán.
  • Entered Civil Service, 1935, rising to First Secretary of Dept. of Finance.
  • Issued At Swim-Two-Bird (1939; reissued 1960).
  • Issued An Béal Bocht (1941), later trans. as The Poor Mouth (1964).
  • Wrote Faustus Kelly, performed at Abbey Theatre, 1943.
  • Wrote The Insect Play, based on play of Karel Capek, performed at Gate Theatre, 1943.
  • Contrib. ‘Cruiskeen Lawn’ to The Irish Times, 1940-1960 as pseud. ‘Myles na gCopaleen’ [at first in Irish].
  • Contrib. ‘Drink and Time in Dublin’ to Irish Writing, ed., David Marcus (1946), as. ‘Myles na gCopaleen’.
  • Married Evelyn McDonnell, 2 Dec. 1948.
  • Contrib. ‘The Martyr’s Crown’ (Envoy 1950).
  • Contrib. ‘A Bash in the Tunnel’ to “James Joyce Special Number” of Envoy (April 1951).
  • Contrib. articles to Kavanagh’s Weekly, April-June 1952, as. ‘Myles na gCopaleen’.
  • Took early retirement from civil service, 19 Feb. 1953.
  • Attacked ‘Titostalinatarianism’ of Tostal Festival, 1953.
  • Inaugurated Bloom’s Day pilgrimage with John Ryan, Patrick Kavanagh, and Anthony Cronin, 16 June 1954.
  • Contrib. ‘A Weekly Look Around’ [column] as ‘John James Doe’, Southern Star (15 Jan. 1955-3 Nov. 1956).
  • Contrib. ‘Bones of Contention’ aka ‘George Knowall’s Peepshow’ [column], Nationalist and Leinster Times (1960-1966).
  • Denounced plaque commemorating birthplace of Oscar Wilde in ‘Cruiskeen Lawn’, 1954.
  • Issued The Hard Life (1961).
  • Contrib. ‘De Me’, as ‘Myles na Gopaleen’, to New Ireland (QUB 1964).
  • Issued The Dalkey Archive (1965), soon afterwards dramatised by Hugh Leonard as The Saints Go Cycling In (1965).
  • ‘The Saint and I’, Manchester Guardian (19 Jan. 1966).
  • Died. 1 April 1966.
  • The Third Policeman (1967) published with epigraph from Shakespeare [‘… let’s reason with the worst that may befall.’]

 

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