Hubert O’Grady (1841-1899)

b. Limerick, trained as upholsterer, acted Conn to acclaim in Dublin revival of The Shaughraun, 1876-77, during seven weeks at the Gaiety; remained a Dublin favourite, and d. pneumonia, Liverpool, 19 Dec. 1899. His play The Famine, set in land-league rent-striking Ireland, with prologue set in Famine of 1845 (premiered Queen’s, Dublin, 26 April 1886); others are The Eviction (1879); Emigration (1880) and The Fenian (1888); also Wild Irish Boy (1877?). DIW


Stephen Watt, [guest] ed., & intro., Hubert O’Grady Special Number’, Journal of Irish Literature, XIV, Nos. 1 & 2 (Jan-May 1985), includes plays Emigration and Famine, and an essay by Watt, ‘The Plays of Hubert O’Grady]; also O’Grady’s obituary appeared in The Irish Playgoer, Dec. 28 1899, with a photograph of him in the role of Sadler, the villainous timekeeper in The Famine (Watt, ibid., plate 9).


  • Robert Hogan, ed., Journal of Irish Literature, No. 14 [Hubert O’Grady Number, ed. by Stephen Watt] (Jan 1985) - works [as supra] and a bibliography of his plays.
  • Chris Morash, ‘Sinking down into the Dark’, Bullán: An Irish Studies Journal, 3, 1 (Spring 1997), pp.75-86, 77ff. [commentary on O’Grady’s 1866 play The Famine].
  • Christopher Fitz-Simon, "Hubert O’Grady: reformer disguised as a gommoch" [chap.], in Buffoonery and East Sentiment: Popular Irish Plays in the Decade prior to the Opening of the Abbey Theatre (Carysfort Press, 2011).

[ top ]

Stephen Watts, Joyce, O’Casey, and the Irish Popular Theater (Syracuse UP 1991), quotes preface of the Fenian [as infra], and remarks: ‘But newspaper reviewers thought that politics were unblushingly mixed with romance and that the whole - as in the notice given to Eviction by the Evening Herald of 22 Dec. 1899 - was “a sermon preached from behind the footlights [appealing] to popular feeling in a curiously successful fashion”’. (p.57-58.)


The Fenian - Preface: ‘This drama is simply a Romantic Irish Love Story and has nothing to do with Patriotic, Political or Social evils. It takes its title from the fact that the scene is laid in Ireland - and is supposed to take place during the Fenian movement which gives the opportunity for the villain the accuse the hero (Lieut. Tracy) of complicity with the Fenians.’


Pop. dram.?: O’Grady was called the most popular of popular dramatists by a disparaging Peter Kavanagh (The Irish Theatre, 1946), a verdict that is expressly challenged by Cheryl Herr in Intro., For the Land They Loved (1991).

[ top ]