Eimar [Ultan] O’Duffy (1893-1935)


Life
b. 29 Sept. 1893, Dublin; son of Kevin Emmet O’Duffy, dentist to the Viceregal Lodge and Pauline [née] Campbell; with sisters Ita, Sheila[h], Ulrica, Finola and bros. Kevin and Donal; ed. Stonyhurst and UCD; grad. BDent.; joined Irish Theatre, Hardwicke St., under Edward Martyn and others; developed anti-imperial ideas and served as a captain in Irish Volunteers; became an IRB member while preferring country-wide guerrilla warfare to urban insurrection; uncovered plans for the 1916 Rising and conveyed the information with J. J. O’Connell to Bulmer Hobson and Eoin MacNeill; travelled to Belfast to call off the Rising there; issued The Wasted Island (1919), an extended criticism of the 1916 Rising centred on Bernard Lascelles, son of a pro-British surgeon and his Catholic wife Alice Reilly, and focusing on the ‘schemers’ who foisted unwanted rebellion on the Irish Volunteers - m. Kathleen [var. Cathleen] Patricia Cruise O’Brien, 16 Aug. 1920, with whom a son Brian and a dg. Rosalind;
 
with Bulmer Hobson, P. S. O’Hegarty, and Colm O’Lochlainn, publ. seven-issue series of The Irish Review [also involving Padraic Colum, James Stephens, and later Joseph Plunkett], 1922-1923; contrib. to The National Student; also The National Volunteer (60 articles); early plays, The Walls of Athens; The Phoenix on the Roof, and Briciu’s Feast, strongly satiric; contrib. to Irish Review, 1922; his fiction incls. The Lion and the Fox (1922), on the Munster Confederacy; Printer’s Errors (1922), a genial satire on cultural life before the Rising; and Miss Rudd and Some Lovers (1923), comic love-story set during Black and Tan period; acted as teacher and employee in Dept. of External Affairs to 1925; lost his Foreign Affairs post and moved to England, 1925; published the Cuanduine Trilogy, featuring Cuchulain returned to Ireland, incls. a trilogy of economic satires, King Goshawk and the Birds (1926), constructed around the eponymous Capitalist of the title, in which Cuchulain joins a tennis-club in Drumcondra;
 
also The Spacious Adventures of the Man in the Street (1928), a Swiftian odyssey in which the hero is transported to another world, and widely considered the most integrated of the three; Asses in Clover (1933) involves theories of Social Credit and much satire on economists, it includes a chapter satirising Gertrude Stein, Ezra Pound, e. e. cummings, and others (‘Cuainduine dips into the Literature of the Period’); contrib. to New Britain, Modern Scot, Time and Tide, Life and Letters, and Liberal Magazine; also wrote three pot-boiler detective novels such as The Bird Cage (1932); The Secret Enemy (1932), and Heart of a Girl (1935); settled latterly in London on quitting the cvil service; troubled by ill-health and stomach ulcers; an unfinished autobiography, The Portrait Gallery, was destroyed after his death; d. of duodenal ulcer, Surrey; the Eimar O’Duffy Family Archive was offered by Richard Ford (Chaucer Rd., London) for £72,500 in August 1998. IF DIB DIW DIL FDA OCIL

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Works
Drama
  • The Walls of Athens (Dublin: Irish Review, 1914);
  • Briciu’s Feast (Dublin: Martin Lester [1919]);
  • ‘The Phoenix on the Roof’, in The Irish Review, 1 (1923), pp.75-82 [one-act play];
  • ‘Romulus and Remus’, in Short Plays of Small Stages (London: Liberal Publication Dept. 1927) [by ‘Oliver Sidgwick’].
Poetry
  • A Lay of the Liffey and Other Verses (Dublin: The Candle Press 1918).
Fiction
  • The Wasted Island (Dublin: Martin Lester 1919), 485pp.; Do., [rev. edn.] (London: Macmillan 1929);
  • The Lion and the Fox (Dublin: Martin Lester 1921), viii, [9]-272pp.;
  • Printer’s Errors (Dublin: Martin Lester 1922; London: Leonard Parsons [1922]);
  • Miss Rudd and Some Lovers (Dublin: Talbot Press 1923);
  • King Goshawk and the Birds (London: Macmillan 1926), x+319pp. [signed Dublin May 1922-London May 1926]; The Spacious Adventures of the Man in the Street (London: Macmillan 1928); The Bird Cage: A Mystery Novel (London: Geoffrey Bles 1932); The Secret Enemy (London: Geoffrey Bles 1932), mystery; Asses in Clover (London: Putnam’s 1933), and Do. ([facs. rep. edn.] (Charlbury: John Carpenter 2003); Heart of a Girl: A Mystery Novel (London: Geoffrey Bles [1935]).
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Miscellaneous
  • Life and Money (London/NY: Putnam’s 1932, rev. & enlarg. 1933; 3rd rev. edn. 1935) [on Social Credit];
  • Consumer Credit: A Pamphlet (London: The Prosperity League 1934).
Journalism (sel.)
  • A College Chorus, in Irish Book Lover, Vol. XI (Jan. 1920), p.62;
  • review of Donn Byrne, Messer Marco Polo, in Irish Review (Nov. 1922), pp.11-12;
  • review of Eugene O’Neill, Plays: First Series, in Irish Rview (Nov. 1922), pp.22-23;
  • review of Lord Dunsany’s The Laughter of the Gods; The Tents of the Arabs; A Night at the Inn; and The Queen’s Enemies, in Irish Review (Nov. 1922), pp.34-35;
  • review of James Joyce’s Ulysses, in Irish Review, Vol. I (Dec. 1922), [q.pp.; see extract];
  • review of Annie P. Smithson, The Walk of a Queen, in Irish Review (Jan. 1923), pp.70-71.

See also Printer’s Errors, Briciu’s Feast and some fugitive material, rep. in The Journal of Irish Literature, 7 (1978).

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Criticism
  • P. S. O’Hegarty, ‘Obituary of Eimar O’Duffy’ in Dublin Magazine, Vol.X, [New Series], 3 (July-Sept. 1935), p.92;
  • Vivian Mercier, ‘The Satires of Eimar O’Duffy’, in The Bell, XII, 4 (July 1946), pp.325-36;
  • Donnchadh A. Meehan, ‘Of Four Fantasies, Being a Review of The Various Lives of Marcus Igoe by Brinsley Macnamara, The Crock of Gold by James Stephens, At Swim-Two-Birds, by Flann O’Brien, and King Goshawk and the Birds by Eimar O’Duffy’, in Irish Bookman, III, 1 (December, 1948), pp. 1-24;
  • Alf MacLochlainn, ‘Eimar O’Duffy: A Bibliographical Biography’, in The Irish Book, I, 1 (Winter 1959-60), pp.37-46;
  • Robert Hogan, Eimar O’Duffy (Lewisburg: Bucknell UP 1972);
  • ‘Eimar O’Duffy Special Number’ [ed. Robert Hogan], Journal of Irish Literature, VII, 1 (January 1978) [Pref. and selection from works - Briciu’s Feast, Printer’s Errors, some verse and reviews];
  • John Cronin, ‘Eimar O’Duffy, The Cuanduine Trilogy’, The Anglo-Irish Novel: 1900-1940 [Vol II] (Belfast: Appletree Press 1990), pp.100-06.

See also Vivian Mercier, The Irish Comic Tradition (1962).

Early reviews & notices
  • [Anon.,] review of The Wasted Island in Catholic Bulletin, X (February 1920), pp.119-20;
  • [anon.,] review of The Wasted Island in Irish Book Lover, XI (March 1920), p.82;
  • anon. review of The Lion and the Fox in Irish Review, I (23 Dec. 1922), p.59;
  • anon. review of Miss Rudd and some Lovers, in Dublin Magazine, I, 7 (Febr. 1924), pp.672-73;
  • William Dawson, review of Miss Rudd and some Lovers in Studies, XIII, 50 (June 1924), pp.323-24;
  • G[eorge] M[oore], review of Life and Money in Irish Book Lover, XX (Jan.-Feb. 1932), pp.23-24;
  • M. Ni N., review of Asses in Clover in Irish Book Lover, XXI (Sept.-Oct. 1933), p.120;
  • J. S. Crone, ‘Sgeala on Chathair na gCeo’, in Irish Book Lover, XXIII (July-Aug. 1935), p.83 [see also P. S. O’H[egarty], p.60, and Colm [O'Lochlann], on p.114];
  • P. S. O’Hegarty, ‘Obituary of Eimar O’Duffy’ in Dublin Magazine, X, [n.s.] 3 (July-Sept. 1935), p.92;
  • P. S. O’Hegarty, ‘The Walls of Athens’, in Dublin Magazine [q.d.; queries re. numbers of this play printed, and whether his O’Duffy’s first play The Phoenix on the Roof was ever printed];
  • Colm [O’Lochlann], in Dublin Magazine (Nov.-Dec. 1938), p.60 [reply to O’Hegarty];
  • Vivian Mercier, ‘The Satires of Eimar O’Duffy’, in The Bell, XII, 4 (July 1946), pp.325-36;
  • Donnchadh A. Meehan, ‘Of Four Fantasies, Being a Review of The Various Lives of Marcus Igoe by Brinsley MacNamara, The Crock of Gold by James Stephens, At Swim-Two-Birds, by Flann O’Brien, and King Goshawk and the Birds by Eimar O’Duffy’, in Irish Bookman, III, 1 (Dec. 1948), pp.11-24;
  • Alf MacLochlainn, ‘Eimar O’Duffy: A Bibliographical Biography’ in The Irish Book, I, 2 (Winter 1959-60), pp.37-46.

[The above list has compiled by Simon Milligan in BA Diss., UUC 1997.]

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Commentary
Patrick Rafroidi, ‘A Question of Inheritance: The Anglo-Irish Tradition’, in Rafroidi & Maurice Harmon, eds., The Irish Novel in Our Time, Université de Lille 1975-76): comments on O’Duffy’s place in the literature of disillusion in ‘the dull aftermath’ of independence (p.19); alludes to The Wasted Island (1919), and quotes from King Goshawk and the Birds, ‘You should have seen Cuchulain playing tennis with the gentry and ladies of the Bon Ton suburb. He learnt the whole art and skill of the game in ten minutes, and straw heat the champion of all Ireland six-love, six-love, and six-love. Never had such strength and agility been seen before. He could cross the court in one leap, he never severed a fault, and none but the champion ever returned his service; he would take any stroke on the volley; and at the net his smash invariably burst the ball.’(Goshawk, 1926; q.p.; Rafroidi, p.26.)

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James Cahalan, Great Hatred, Little Room, The Irish Historical Novel (1983), O’Duffy’s The Lion and the Fox (1922) [was] couched in romantic, remote mould of Standish O’Grady. O’Grady’s influence on O’Duffy reflected both in subject and style, The Lion and the Fox is a turgid account of the era of Hugh O’Neill in which O’Duffy adopts with a straight face the romantic approach to history, curiously enough, that he himself subsequently lampooned [..] in King Goshawk and the Birds [110]. Also, Eimar O’Duffy’s The Wasted Land (1919) an attack on Pearse. [110]

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Benedict Kiely, ‘The Historical Novel’ in Augustine Martin, ed., The Genius of Irish Prose (Cork: Mercier 1985), pp.53-66: ‘To illustrate the differences and the resemblances between the history and the story we can do no better than turn to Eimar O’Duffy’s novel the Lion and the Fox, the fox of the title being Florence MacCarthy Mór, who complicated character, for which the circumstances of the time were not perhaps entirely responsible, is described in remarkable detail. ... (p.60); ‘We can be pretty certain that Eimar O’Duffy had read The Life and Letters of Florence MacCarthy Reagh, Tanist of Carbery, MacCarthy Mór, with some Portion of the History of the Ancient Families of the South of Ireland Compiled Solely from Unpublished Documents in Her Majesty’s State Paper Office by Daniel MacCarthy Glas, of Gleann a Chroim. That enormous book was published in the Fenian year of 1867 by Longmans in London and Hodges and Smith in Dublin; and in 1975 it was photocopied and published by the Miros Press in Cork. [... &c.]’ (p.61); ‘It is greatly to the credit of Eimar O’Duffy that with such splendid original material at his disposal he in no way diminished it when he produced that novel’ [as happened in the case of A. E. W. Mason’s novel on the Chevalier Wogan (see infra).] (p.62.)

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R. L. McCartney, Liberty and Authority in Ireland [Field Day Pamphlet No. 9] (Derry: Field Day 1985), on the ‘organic whole’ in Irish nationalism: ‘The exchange between the militant Irish nationalist and his anglicised catholic friend in the novel of Eimar O’Duffy The Wasted Island (1919) sums it all up: “You know little and care less for her traditions; you don’t observe her customs; you don’t think as she does; your heroes and your flag is not her flag; and instead of that patriotism which is a natural feeling innate in every normal man, you have a bastard thing you call ‘loyalty’ .... which is nothing more in reality than the Fealty which a garrison owes to its paymasters ... It’s a question of life and death with us; a war between two civilisations with our national language and customs, our very name and existence at stake; and so long as the struggle goes on, nothing else in the world matters to us.”’ (McCartney, p.11.).

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John Cronin, The Anglo-Irish Novel, Vol. 2, Appletree 1990, p.161, O’Duffy’s Cuanduine Trilogy considered by John Cronin to be an influence of Flann O’Brien: ‘While he owes much to Stephens for the prevailing tone fo certain aspects of his fantasy, O’Duffy can be seen to have exerted an evident influence on the authord of At Swim-Two-Birds’ [proceeds to compare their middle-class origins and university careers]; ‘they shared a certain common disenchaantment withthe superficialities of Irish patriotism …Most importantly of all, O’Brien found in O’Duffy’s novels a fine satirical capacity for producing hilariously effective constrast by introducing into a shrunken modernity the giant figures of Irish legend.’ QUOTS passage: ‘You should have seen Cuchulain playing tennis with the gentry and ladies of the Bon Ton suburb. He learnt the whole art and skill of the game in ten minutes, and straightway beat the Champion of all Ireland six-love, sixlove, six-love. Never had such strength and agility been seen before. He could cross the court in one leap; he never served a fault, and none but the Champion ever returned his service; he would take any stroke on the volley; and at the net his smash invariably burst the ball.’ (Cronin, p.103.)

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Quotations
The Wasted Island (1919), Mr Ward: ‘I had lived for the day when Ireland should tell me I ha[d] deserved well of her. But Ireland had forgotten me. The old spirit had passed away and ... men looked upon me as an ordinary criminal. ... Can you free a slave who uses his very chains as a weapon against his liberator?’ (p.27.) ‘Everything was in the hands of the Party politicians, and the people could attend to their private affairs with a clear conscience, for when everything was being done for them, all they had to do was to keep peaceful and grow prosperous.’ (p.118.) ‘Ireland, so far as politics was concerned, was a stagnant pool.’ (p.119); ‘How can we logically accept a Home Rule Bill framed by England? Isn’t our whole case based on the fact that England has no right to legislate for us at all?’ (p.169.) [All quoted in Noël Debeer, ‘The Irish Novel Looks Backward’, in The Irish Novel in Our Time, ed. Patrick Rafroidi & Maurice Harmon (Université de Lille 1975-76), pp.106-23, p.114.]

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Asses in Clover (1933; facs. rep. edn. John Carpenter 2003): ‘“Disgusting,” said Progressa […] “But this fellows view are quite out of date. It is now agreed that sex is the most beautiful, the most ennobling, the most radiant, th emost spiritual, the most glorious saccharine of all the wonders created by God; and it is therefore contrary both to nature and to divine ordinance to put any restraint upon it whatever. It is above all things necessary that the young people come to it joyously and without fear or shame, as a rapturous and spontaneous expression of mutual love. You should therefore instruct them as early as possible, frankly, and without any false modesty that may lead them to associate the act with sin or wrong-doing.”’ But it is Cuanduine who has the last word: ‘Between the two of you I am altogether flummoxed […] There seems to be but one point on which you are agreed, namely, that this one organ is of more importance tha all the rest of the body put together: so much so that one’s whole life should be devoted either to exercising it or to keeping it in subjection. This seems to me a little disproportionate.’ (p.150.)

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James Joyce’s Ulysses, in Irish Review, Vol. I (Dec. 1922): ‘[...] Ireland is his Beatrice, whom he loves without home and without return, though he is a great artist, perhaps [17] the greatest artist in prose now living. Ulysses is monumental in scope and execution, an epic that contains as much thought and beauty on a single page as is to be found in entire voumes of well-regarded poetasters. Here the spirit of a bygone age is revealed in the chatter and gossip of the day, and the author’s evocative power covers a wide range. Figures that Hogarth might have painted; keen encounters with wits; subtle searching into human souls; passages of description that catch the heart; grim pictures of the foulness of man - such are the memories that one retains from this vast prose-poem.’ (Q.p.; quoted [without source] in James Liddy, ‘The Reputation of James Joyce: From Notoriety to Fame’, in University Review, 3, 2, Summer 1963, p.16-17.)

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References
Desmond Clarke, Ireland in Fiction [Pt. II] (Cork: Royal Carbery 1985), lists The Wasted Island (Dublin: Martin Lester 1919), central char. Bernard Lascelles, with Stephen Ward, relating their upbringing incl. university life at UCD; a slow-moving catalogue of author’s views; featuring Patrick Pearse as Mallow, Darrell Figgis as Ompleby, with Roger Casement, Mahaffy et al.; Miss Rudd and Some Lovers (Talbot 1923), comedy of Bohemian life in Rathgar lodgings, the heroine an impecunious novelist, unconventional and likeable, in the Dublin of the Tans, 1921; The Lion and the Fox (Talbot 1925), historical novel featuring Hugh O’Neill striving vainly to rouse Munster against the English, 1600, his patriotism contrasted with cowardice and treachery of the chiefs; Printers’ Errors (Talbot 1924), a comedy of manners poking fun at the Abbey Theatre and the Gaelic League, with widower Francis Wilberforce vainly wooing cultural lady, who falls for his son instead; The Spacious Adventures of the Man in the Street (London: Macmillan 1928), a Swiftian satire in which Mr [Robert Emmet] Aloysius O’Kennedy is carried off to a planet called Rathé, whose customs he describes; Asses in Clover (London: Putnam 1933), pseudo-epic satire featuring Cuanduine, son of Cuchulainn, saving the world from American millionaire, King Goshawk; Head of a Girl (London: Bles [1935], detective story.

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Robert Hogan, ed., Dictionary of Irish Literature (Dublin: Gill & Macmillan 1979); b. 29 Sept; wrote light verse and facetious stories in college magazine; plays produced at Edward Martyn’s Irish Theatre in Hardwicke Street; join IRB, capt. in Irish Volunteers; with JJ O’Connell alerted MacNeill to Easter Rising, and sent by MacNeill to halt insurrection in Belfast; disillusion reflected in The Wasted Island (1919); teacher, and Dept. of External Affairs to 19125; books published under Bulmer Hobson’s Martin Lester imprint; [m. 1920, IF2]; went to England with his family, 1925; spent some time working for American paper in Paris; the novels of the Cuanduine trilogy, 1926, 19287, 1933; revised ed. of The Wasted Island (1929); Life and Money, a book on economics, following the theories of Major Douglas and others, 3 eds.; also three potboilers; d. Surrey 1935, duodenal ulcers.

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Seamus Deane, gen. ed., The Field Day Anthology of Irish Writing (Derry: Field Day 1991), Vol. 2; selects The Wasted Island, and King Goshawk and the Birds [1131-40]; 1220-21, BIOG. son of fahionable dentist, ed. Stonyhurst, and UCD; grad dentistry; joined IRB, Capt. Irish Volunteeers; among those who alerted Eoin MacNeill to Easter Rising plans [see RX Hobson]; 1916 events dramatised in The Wasted Island (Dublin: Martin Lester 1919); literary romances of the period inc. The Lion and the Fox (do. 1922), satire of Irish mores; Printer’s Errors (Lester; London: Leonard Parson 1922); and Miss Rudd and Some Lovers (Talbot 1923), a comic romance set in the War of Independence; teacher up to 1925; joined Dept. of Foreign Affairs; moved to England with his family in 1925; briefly journalist in Paris; King Goshawk and the Birds (Macmillan 1926); followed by Spacious Adventures (Macmillan 1928), and Asses in Clover (Putnam 1933), satiric trilogy; his anti-capitalist economics in Life and Money (1933); attempt to live by detective fiction; failing health; d. New Malden, Surrey. COMM, Robert Hogan, Eimar O’Duffy (Bucknell UP 1972); Augustine Martin ed., The Genius of Irish Prose (Mercier 1985); J. W. Foster, Fictions of the Irish Literary Revival (Dublin: Gill & Macmillan; Syracuse UP 1987), chp 13, ‘The Kingdom of Fantasy’. REMS Affinities of O’Duffy and Stephens, both writing books about 1916, the latter in a sprawling novel, Wasted Island; socialists; both debunkers of Celtic heroes, while in The Bright Temptation, etc. Clarke achieves social satire similar to O’Duffy, 1025-1026.

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Seamus Deane, gen. ed., The Field Day Anthology of Irish Writing (Derry 1991), Vol. 3, 507: Bulmer Hobson, ‘The first definition information I had that an insurrection was to occur in the immediate future was late in the evening of Holy Thursday when J. J. O’Connell and Eimar O’Duffy came into by office and told me an insurrection had been planned for the following Sunday ... / McNeill, O’Connell and I went in to see Pearse [at St Enda’s, 2 a.m.] leaving O’Duffy, who was not a member of the executive, outside. Pearse then admitted what he had so often denied, that an insurrection was to take place, and told us that nothing we could do could prevent it.’ (Ireland Yesterday and Tomorrow, 1968, Chap. VIII).

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Belfast Public Library holds Asses in Clover (1933); Briciu’s Feast (n.d.); College Chorus; Crusade in Spain; King Goshawk and the Birds (1926); Lay of the Liffey and other Verses (1918); Life and Money (1933); Printer’s Errors (n.d.); Spacious Adventurers ... (1928); Wasted Island (1929).

Rudi Holzapfel, Author Index 3, lists ‘The Walls of Athens’, play, The Irish Review 40 (1911-14); book reviews in The Irish Review, n. s. (1922-23), Nos. 1-3 & 6; biographical essay on James Joyce, ‘Ulysses’, No.4; and ‘The Phoenix on the Roof’, No.7, play.

Three stories incl. in Fytton Armstrong, ed., Thrills, Crimes, and Mysteries (Assoc. Newspapers 1935), ill. Norman Keene [Eggeling Catl. No. 44].

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Notes
King Goshawk and the Birds (1926): strife between the dominant political parties (Yallogreens and the Greenyallos) render the country unable to defend itself against international capitalism; King Goshawk is charging monopolistic rates for birdsong; the Philosopher of Stoneybatter summons Cuchulainn, who occupies the body of (Robert Emmet) Aloysius O’Kennedy, a grocer’s assistant; he triumphs on the centre court at the Bon Ton [i.e., Fitzwilliam] Tennis Club, finds a girl, and returns to Tír na nÓg leaving a son, Cuanduine; the novel includes caricatures of Emaon de Valera as ‘Seamus Vanderbags’, and countess Markievicz as ‘Madame Przemysl’; in The Spacious Adventures of the Man in the Street (1928) O’Kennedy is taken up to Rathé where the inhabitants feel as guilty about eating as the Irish do about having sex; Cuanduine defeats Goshawk in the third novel of the trilogy, Asses in Clover (1933).

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Source?: Note that O’Duffy appears to have taken the idea of a modernised Cuchulain, replete with economic theories, from Standish James O’Grady's treatment of him, which is remarked by R. F. Foster, in The Story of Ireland [Inaugural lecture ... Univ. of Oxford, 1 Dec. 1994] (Clarendon Press 1995), as follows: ‘Cuchulain visits Dublin, looks in shop windows, and rails against the cash nexus)’; [see extract, attached.]

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