John O’Keeffe (1747-1833)


Life
b. 24 June 1747, Abbey St., Dublin; ed. by a Jesuit father called Father Austin; became good classical and French scholar; studied drawing under Robert West at Dub. Royal Academy (RDS), and started acting in priv. theatricals; travelled to London in 1762-64, and was greatly struck by Garrick on stage; subsisted as actor and playwright under Mossop at Smock Alley, Dublin, 1764-1768; his farce The She-Gallant (1767) was successful in Dublin; apparently saw Goldsmith’s She Stoops to Conquer in Cork, and wrote a farce, Tony Lumpkin’s Rambles Thro’ Cork ([Smock Alley, 17 Sept. 1773), with which he toured through Ireland, later adapting it as Tony Lumpkin in Town, sending it anon. to George Colman;
 
married in 1774 [but see later marriage to Mary Heaphy, infra]; wrote The Shamrock, or St. Patrick’s Day (Crow St., 15 April 1777), unpublished, a piece for the Order of St. Patrick, lately founded, which contained airs by Carolan ‘never before heard by an English public’ later incorporated in the less ephemera; acted at both Crow St. and Smock Alley up to 1777, when he moved to London; Tony Lumpkin in Town produced at Haymarket, 1778, having been adapted from his earlier Rambles (1773; as supra); issued The Son-in-Law (Haymarket Aug. 1779) a success in London and Dublin; m. Mary Heaphy, dg. of Tottenham Heaphy, an Irish actor, Sept. 1780;
 
wrote Dead Alive (June 1781) and The Agreeable Surprise (Haymarket 1781), the last to be written in his own hand; issued The Banditti (Covent Garden, Nov. 1781), a comic opera which failed but was successfully revived as The Castle of Andalusia (Nov. 1782); The She-Gallant was produced as The Positive Man (Cov. Gdn., March 1782); also Harlequin Teague (1782), a pantomime which features the Giant’s Causeway; other plays incl. The Lord Mayor’s Day (Nov. 1782); The Poor Soldier (1783) and a sequel, Patrick in Prussia (1786); The Maid is the Mistress (Feb. 1783), and The Poor Soldier (1783), a comic opera;
 
issued Wild Oats (1791; pub. 1792), much revived in London, with a modern version by Tom MacIntyre (Abbey Th., Dublin 1977); also The Wicklow Gold Mine (1796), an opera later revised as The Wicklow Mountains (Dublin 1814) [FDA]; retired from acting due to blindness; The Dramatic Works of John O’Keeffe, Esq., containing fifty pieces, appeared in 4 vols. in 1798; impoverished in later life and led out blind at benefit performance, 12 June 1800, securing an annuity of £20; issued Recollections of the Life of John O’Keeffe, 2 vols. (1826); received pension of 100 guineas a year, 1826; contrib. verses to newspapers, &c.;
 
d. 4 Feb. 1833, in Southampton; O’Keeffe’s Legacy to His Daughters (1834), containing poems and recollections, was issued by his dg. Adelaide; William Hazlitt called him ‘the English Molière’, adding: ‘In light, careless laughter, and pleasant exaggeration of the humorous, we have no equal to him’ (Lectures on the English Comic Writers, 1869); there is a portrait by Thomas Laurenson in the National Portrait Gallery, London (1786). ODNB DIW DIL PI OCEL CAB RAF ODQ FDA OCIL BREF

[ top ]

Works
Plays
  • The Generous Lovers, unacted and unprinted; acted under Mossop and others for 12 years; 1774,
  • The Shamrock, or St. Patrick’s Day (Crow St. 15 April 1777);
  • The She-Gallant, later called The Positive Man [1782];
  • Tony Lumpkin in Town, or The Dilettante (Haymarket 2 July 1778; pub. Dublin, Spring 1779) [FDA 1780];
  • The Son-in-Law (Haymarket, Aug. 1779) [FDA Dublin 1783];
  • The Agreeable Surprise, farce (1781) [pub. Newry 1783];
  • The Banditti, or Love’s Labyrinth (Nov. 1781), com. opera;
  • The Castle of Andalusia (Covent Garden 1782);
  • Harlequin Teague (Haymarket, 17 Aug. 1782);
  • The Lord Mayor’s Day (Nov. 1782);
  • The Dead Alive (Dublin 1783) [based in The Arabian Nights];
  • The Poor Soldier, com. op. (Covent Garden 1783; pub. 1785);
  • Fountainbleu, or, Our way in France (1784; Dublin 1790);
  • Wild Oats (1791 [Dublin 1791]).
[ top ]
Collected edition
  • The Dramatic Works of John O’Keeffe, Esq. 4 vols. (London: T. Woodfall 1798).
 
Reprints
  • Christopher Wheatley & Kevin Donovan, eds., Irish Drama of the Seventeeth and Eighteenth Centuries, 2 vols. (UK: Ganesha Publishing UK 2003) [incls. The Poor Soldier” (1782) and The Wicklow Mountains” (1798)].
 
Memoirs
  • Recollections of the Life of John O’Keeffe, 2 vols. (London: Henry Colbourn 1826).
[ top ]
Miscellaneous
  • William Shield, A short account of the new pantomime called Omai, or, A trip round the world: performed at the Theatre-Royal in Covent-Garden: with the recitatives, airs, duetts, trios and chorusses and a description of the procession / The pantomime, and the whole of the scenery, designed and invented by Mr. [Philippe Jacques de] Loutherbourg; the words written by Mr. O’Keeffe; and the musick composed by Mr. Shields [sic] (London: Printed for T. Cadell 1785), [2], 24pp., 8o. [COPAC].
 
Note: the above listing taken from Peter Kavanagh, The Irish Theatre (Tralee 1946), with variations from Field Day Anthology of Irish Writing (1991) and other sources. Viz., Fountainbleu, or, our way in France (1784; Dublin 1790) is dated 1784 in Leerrssen, Mere Irish, Fíor Ghael, 1986 (Bibl. p.512). The Field Day Anthology of Irish Writing, Vol. 1 (Derry 1991) calls Shamock unpublished (p.657) while deferring generally to Kavanagh (Irish Theatre, 1946.)

[ top ]

Criticism
Karen J. Harvey & Kevin B. Pry, ‘John O’Keeffe as an Irish Playwright within the Theatrical, Social and Economic Context of his Time,’ in Eire-Ireland XXII, I (Spring 1987), p.19-43; Christopher Wheatley, Beneath Ierne’s Banners: Irish Protestant Drama of the Restoration and Eighteenth century (Notre Dame UP 1999) [q.pp.]. Others as in Commentary [infra].

[ top ]

Commentary
G. C. Duggan, The Stage Irishman (1937): ‘Few of his plays had any vogue in Dublin, catering to English and (increasingly) American audience tired of false sentimentality. Hazlitt called him the English Moliere, but his fast moving farces seem deplorably flat; yet ‘he cannot be neglected ... indeed his Irish plays and Irish characters explain clearly the nemesis which overtook the Irishman on the nineteenth century stage.’ [143] His opera The Shamrock, with ‘its Irish characters and customs, pipers and fairies, football players and gay hurlers’, and replete with Carolan’s airs, is missing [i.e., unpublished]. His Irish plays are, The Poor Soldier (1782); The Prisoner at Large (1788); The Wicklow Mines or Lad of the Hills (1795); and Love in a Camp, or Patrick in Prussia, the sequel to The Poor Soldier, though set abroad (1785). Also, The Poor Soldier set in Co. Wicklow with the Duke of Leinster’s Carton House as a backdrop. In it an Irish soldier returns from the West Indies to find his fiancée Norah being wooed by Capt. Fitzroy; all ends happily when turns out the soldier saved the Captain in Carolina (America), and a captaincy is bestowed on him to save him from the anger of the priest who agreed to the other’s marriage. As a subplot, Darby is wooing Kathlane [sic], effectually and practically, in comparison with Dermot’s soppy sentimentalism. In the sequel, Patrick in Prussia Patrick is serving Marshall Fehrbellin while Norah is in the keeping of Fr. Luke in Berlin; Darby, having been jilted by Kathlane, has sold his farm and gone wandering, and is on the point of being flogged when Patrick rescues him; a love intrigue between the Capt. and Flora ensues and is unravelled when Norah arrives on the scene. Darby evasions fuel the complications of the plot which includes Flora’s flirtation in cross-dress with Norah. The agreeable priest, not entirely a toper, extracts a bottle of Drogheda whisky from an unwilling donor. Also, The Prisoner at Large: Lord Esmond has fallen into the hands of a gang of crooks through gambling in Paris; discovering that Count Fripon has gone to his Killarney estate to collect his rents, he secretly returns with Trap, his custodian, and makes himself known to Jack Connor, the young farmer who has persuaded the tenants not to pay, and also to Miss Adelaide, to whom he was married ten years before. According to his Recollections (1826), the plot is based on facts encountered by O’Keeffe when in the year 1768 an innkeeper in Antrim pointed out to him a Frenchman trying to collect rent in the manner of Count Fripon.’ [Cont.]

[ top ]

G. C. Duggan (The Stage Irishman, 1937) - cont.: The Wicklow Gold Mines, a comic opera with a thin plot set in Arklow and interesting as an attempt to describe Irish country life. The central char. is Felix, ‘lad of the hills’, a devil may care suspected of robbing the coach; other characters are Rosa, the shop-keeping cottager, Billy, her suitor; Sulivan, the Schoolmaster, post-master, and part-owner of a fishing fleet; the Squire who drives down from Merrion Square; his bailiff, Redmond O’Hanlon, who pursues Billy and Felix in their capacities as poachers. Redmond himself sings, ‘In Antrim I was a Heart of Steel, in Clonmel I was a White Boy.’ contemporary Dublin life, ‘The elegant delights of Dublin - plays, ridottos, public breakfasts, Castle balls, Circular Road canters, New Garden concerts, and Blackrock casinos.’ Also, The Lie of the Day (1788), set at Hampton Court, with chiefly Irish characters, Edward O’Donovan, TCD sizar, and Larry Kavanagh, being changelings, the former the true son of Sir Carroll O’Donovan. The term ‘bog-trotter’ is used [152].

[ top ]

G. C. Duggan (The Stage Irishman, 1937) - cont.: Duggan gives an account of The World in a Village (1793), in which Capt. Mullinahack, serving with the French navy, is captured and sheltered in England by the widowed mother of a youth he has saved from drowning, and finds his own daughter playing lady bountiful to the poor of the neighbourhood; the comedy develops from the Moliere-theme of the mistaken examination, and from various bulls and blunders. In an anonymous piece, The Raft (1798), with Charles Johnstone as O’Bowling, an Irish navyman appears, ‘I’m an Irishman born and as pretty a youth / As ever bawl’d whack or the sweet Gramachree / In a drop of the creature I always find truth / And a drop of the creature’s the true drop for me.’

[ top ]

Patrick Rafroidi, Irish Literature in English, The Romantic Period, 1789-1850 (Gerrards Cross: Colin Smythe 1980), Vol. I; ‘John O’Keeffe, ‘France once tried the slap-dash, short-cut, of doing without rule or order, and what was the result?’ (Recollections, 1826, I, 4, 124); O’Keeffe also showed himself initially favourable [to the French Revolution] in The Grenadier (1789), and banned from the stage after part-publication, to appear in full in his complete works in 1798. [13]. Further, A ballad, ‘Simon the Pauper’, by John O’Keeffe, shows Wordsworthian fashion (Dublin Magazine and Irish Monthly Register, III, Nov. 1799, p.310); Also, John O’Keeffe’s patriotism, ‘If ever again I set foot in Ireland, let who will see me, be they hundreds and thousands, I’ll kneel down and kiss the ground, the blessed ground.’ (Recorded by Adelaide O’Keeffe in O’Keeffe’s Legacy to his Daughter, p.XIX). The Poor Soldier (1782) includes a tender evocation of the beauties of Ireland (specifically Leixlip and Carton, 1.2). in Fontainebleau Mrs O’Cas[e]y recalls, ‘Kilkenny is a handsome place / As any town in Shamrock-shire.’(2.i.) The Prisoner at Large (1788) attacks absenteeism and The Wicklow Mountains (1795-96?) discreetly emphasises justification of Whiteboy and Steelboy risings, ‘See you not what heavy grievances we lay under, our great landlords spending money abroad, their stewards patch by patch enclosing our commons, and their parsons with their rich livings leaving us in the claws of their cursed griping tithe-practors.’ (2.ii.) The young landlord Franklin says at the end, ‘In this land of abundance, why shou’d our peasantry languish in such lamentable wretchedness? - we we to turn our attention a little more to this, instead of the unhappy necessity of punishing crimes, we might prevent their commission, by awakening them from the idlenesss of despondency, with our countenance and protection, and rewarding their labours by the genial and cherishing encouragement of kindness and humanity.’ (The Wicklow Mountains, conclusion.) “My Lamentation”, sung to the tune of “Erin Go Bra”, contains the line, ‘My infant joy, thou much-loved isle[?] / Ah no! they faithless sons have sold thee ..’ (O’Keeffe’s Legacy, pp.162 seq.) [99-101] (See further from Rafroidi, 1980, Vol II, under “References”, infra.)

[ top ]

W. B. Stanford, Ireland and the Classical Tradition (IAP 1976; 1984), include J O’Keeffe, The Siege of Troy (1795) [110]. Further, ‘John O’Keeffe, the chief comic figure in The Agreeable Surprise (1792) is an Irish butler called Lingo, described as an incorrigible pedant-ignoramus, “It seems he’s been a schoolmaster here in the country, taught all the bumkin fry what he calls Latin; and the damn’d dog patches his own bad English with his bits of bad Latin and jumbles the Gods, Godesses, heroes celestial and infernal together ..”; “Scio scribendo ... Legere ... Tacitorum Latinum ... Quid opus mihi usumque scienta? What need have I of so much knowledge?”’ [176]

[ top ]

Rosemary Bechler, review of Wild Oats, dir. Jeremy Sams (Lyttleton Th., London), in Times Literary Supplement (22 Sept. 1995), first performed 1791; farce with remarkable ability to accomodate itself elsewhere in history; Dickens has Vincent Crummles include it in Nicholas Nickleby’s repertoire [1831]; revived by RSC, with Alan Howard as Rover, 1976; relentless pace of what Hazlett called admiringly the ‘most felicitous blunders in situation and character that can be conceived’ Hazlett reproached for calling O’Keeffe the English Molière, since he was Catholic-born in Dublin; play ends with invocation of O’Keeffe’s favourite comedy, As You Like It; Rover, a ‘stray-vaguing stroller’ successive Kean-like postures and quotes from nathaniel Lee or Farquhar; in final self-disgust Rover compelled to pronounce himself ‘from Wirtembrug’ to the woman he loves; Sir George Thunder finally asks the only important question [of Rover], ‘But who is he?’ obvious appeal of wild oats in age of low sperm count; rapidly written to replace a dramatisation of the fall of the Batille, cancelled due to sudden crescendo of anti-French feeling; deliberately turns on its head the commonest anti-Jacobin story of all, that of a modern-minded stranger arriving in a small country community and subverting at least one rishing member of the gentry from ancient ways; Jack Rover takes anyone, regardless of rank, to the bosom of his latest imaginary family; what is this if not the creation of a chaotic democracy? To be sure Lady Amaranth gives up her title only because she has become a Quaker, but [Sir George Thunder’s] apoplexy on being called ‘good George’ by her servants – “they think no more of an English knight than a French Duke” – provides a pleasure certainly comparable to the humbling of Lady Catherine de Bourgh [in Jane Austen]; [Anthony] Lesser’s Rover’s governs the play’s mood swings; lurhces toward tragedy; when Sir George, who expects everybody to “know” him, finds his own son leading a plot to have him declared an imposter, he strikes out at all and sundry, bloodying our hero in the process; blood signals the end of artifice, the mask drops, and [Rover] faces us, swearing vengeance; criss son passes; historionic seduction we are as powerless as Amaranth to resist; feel of a street carnival; Rover quotes As You Like It, ‘’this meat and drink for me to see a clown”; his predilectin for currant wine; “the fullness of plenty”. (TLS, p.20.)

[ top ]

Quotations
Amo, Amas ...” (from Agreeable Surprise, 1781): ‘Amo, Amas, / I love a lass,/As a cedar tall and slender!/Sweet as cowslip’s grace/Is her Nominative Case/And she’s of the feminine gender. / Rorum, corum, sunt Divorum! / Harum scarum Divo! / Tag, rag, merry derry, periwig and hatband, / Hic, hac, horum Genitivo! // Can I decline / A Nymph divine? / Her voice as a flute is dulcis! / Her oculi bright! / Her manus white! / And soft, when I tacto, her pulse is! / Rorum, corum, sunt Divorum! / Harum scarum Divo! / Tag, rag, merry derry, periwig and hatband, / Hic, hac, horum Genitivo! // 0, how bella / Is my Puella! / I’ll kiss saeculorum! / If I’ve luck, Sir! / She’s my Uxor! / O, dies benedictorum! // ...’ (Given in A. N. Jeffares & Peter Van de Kamp, eds., Irish Literature: The Eighteenth Century - An Annotated Anthology (Dublin/Oregon: Irish Academic Press 2006, p.322.)

[ top ]

Beginnings: ‘My drawing gave me an early taste for the antique, and consequently set me to reading. From the Greek, latin, and French acquired under Father austin, to whose school in Cook Street I went, my fancy soon strayed to Shakespeare, old Ben, Congreve, Cibber and Farquhar. The first edition of Farquhar’s comedies, with the prints affixed to each of them, set me to studying and acting private plays among my schoolfellows; and this transition from drawing to poetising was ultimately (as my sight began to fail at seven and twenty) very fortunate for me; a man can complse with his pen in the hand of an amanuensis, but the pencil he must hold in his own hand.’ (Recollections, Vol. 1, p.2.)

[ top ]

References
Dictionary of National Biography: 12 years an actor with Mossop in Dublin; Tony Lumpkin in Town (Haymarket 1778); lived in England from 1780, wrote comic pieces for Haymarket and Covent Garden theatres; Wild Oats; The Castle of Andalusia, revived by Buckstone; a successful song, ‘I am a Friar of the Orders Grey’ in op. Merry Sherwood; Covent Garden benefit 1800, and royal pension, 1820; Recollections (1826).

[ top ]

Justin McCarthy, gen. ed., Irish Literature, ed. (Washington: University of America 1904); gives ‘a Budget of Stories’ from Recollections, selections incl. ‘No snakes in Ireland] [an Irish bull from a workman operating the mechanical snake in Woodward’s Crow St. Theatre who calls it a fish]; ‘Auld Ireland’ [a semi-idyll of his ‘time’, treating of roads, beggars, and singer cow-girls, ‘the great pride of a countryman on a Sunday, was to have three or four waistcoats on him’]; ‘Quarrelsome Irishmen’ [Brady; ‘You’re beneath me’ the actor Dawson, on a table, ‘Now I am above you!’ also a Cork narrative, ‘I’ll rattan you’]; ‘Thomas Sheridan’ [the plan for his spelling dictionary; five ways of rendering ‘None but the brave deserve the fair’ Captain O’Blunder taken from a French farce for Isaac Sparkes]; ‘On his Blindness’ [includes reference to ‘pistol work either on the strand at Clontarf or behind Montague House ... or any other battle field, west of Mother Red-cap’s’]; ‘Sir Joshua Reynolds’ [on blocking a timber yard with trees, ‘Now you cannot see the wood for the trees’]; also ‘The Friar of Orders Gray’, poem [2 stanzas, refrain, ‘What baron or squire/Or knight of the shire/Lives half so well as a holy friar!’].

[ top ]

Oxford Dictionary of Quotations selects ‘Amo, Amas, I love a lass/As a cedar tall and slender;/Sweet as cowslip’s grace/Is her nominative case/And she’s of the feminine gender ..’ (Agreeable Surprise, song); ‘Fat, fair and forty were all the toasts of the young men’ (Irish Minnie, ii).

Geoffrey Taylor, Irish Poets of the Nineteenth Century; var. d.1833; Irish play-titles incl. The Shamrock, or The Anniversary of St. Patrick (Cvt Gdn 1783), Patrick in Prussia (Dublin 1786), The Poor Soldier, comic op. (Cvt. Gdn 1783), Wicklow Mountains or Gold in Ireland (q.d.), The Lad of the Hills (Lon 1796), Wicklow Gold Mines, or The Boy from the Scalp (1830), with Tyrone Power as Billy O’Rourke, in his 1st stage appearance [ditto GBI]. Selects ‘Amo, amas,/I love a lass’ (The Agreeable Surprise, 1781); Rover’s epilogue from Wild Oats: ‘To merit as friend so good so sweet a wife / The tender husband to be my part for life / My wild oats sown, let candid Thespian laws / Decree that glorious harvest your applause’. O’Keeffe studied painting under West at the RDS (Taylor, p.395).

[ top ]

Peter Kavanagh, The Irish Theatre (Tralee 1946), pp.348-61: lists 77 works. Bio-data: b. Abbey St., Dublin, of a Catholic family that lost property after the Boyne; ed. Father Austin, SJ; studied painting under West at RIA [recte RDS]; his sight began to fail at 27; total loss of sight ensued in 1781, with a fall in the Liffey on the way to Ringsend for post-play refreshment bringing on inflammation. The Agreeable Surprise was the last piece written by his own hand [the rest being dictated for, as he said, ‘a man can compose with his pen in the hand of an amanuensis but the pencil he must hold in his own hand’, Recollections, I.3]. At a benefit on 12 June 1800, O’Keeffe, led out blind on stage, recited a poetical address, deeply affecting the audience. He received an annuity of 20 pounds for his unused MSS from Covent Garden, and in Jan. 1826 was awarded a pension of 100 pounds from the King causing him to end his Recollections with a note of gratitude - ‘may he live long and happy!’ Died at 85 in Southampton, a Roman Catholic; portrait by Thomas Laurenson in National Portrait Gallery, London. Bibl., The Shamrock, or St. Patrick’s Day (Crow St., 15 April 1777), unpublished, a piece for the Order of St. Patrick, lately founded, which contained airs by Carolan ‘never before heard by an English public’ later incorporated in the less ephemeral The Poor Soldier, com. op. (CG 1783; printed 1785); Harlequin Teague (Haymarket, 17 August, 1782), which features the Giant’s Causeway; The Tory; or, Lie of the Day (Covent Garden, 3 February, 1789), in which figure Sir Carrol O’Donovan and Young O’Donovan, the latter a needy Irishman in England; The Poor Soldier (Covent Garden, 7 April, 1783), and its sequel Patrick in Prussia (Covent Garden, 17 February, 1786), the first set in Ireland and including Patrick, Nora, Kathleen, Father Luke and similar characters; The Prisoner at Large (Haymarket, 2 July, 1788) set in the west of Ireland; The Lad of the Hills (Covent Garden, 9 April, 1796), an opera set in Wicklow; The She-Gallant (Haymarket, 13 October, 1789), featuring the Irish servant Thady MacBrogue; and Tantara-rara Rogues All! (Covent Garden, l March, 1788), a farce set in Paris but including in its cast Sir Ulick Liffydale and O’Toole, alias Lord Limavaddy [adds. from JNcVeagh]. Note, Kavanagh discusses Wild Oats and The Agreeable Suprise separately and remarks: ‘O’Keeffe is not remembered today as a writer of comedy. His fame is entirely resting on his brilliance as a writer of farce.’ [357]

[ top ]

Patrick Rafroidi, Irish Literature in English, The Romantic Period, 1789-1850 (Gerrards Cross: Colin Smythe 1980), Vol 2 (1980), gives bio-data: b. Abbey St., Dublin, his mother an O’Connor from Co. Wexford; ed. Jesuits [sic], Dublin and Dublin School of Design; joined Mossop’s company; m. Mary Heaphy, dg. of Theatre Royal mgr., in 1774; separated in 1781; Hazlitt called him ‘The English Moliere’ (Lectures on English Comic Writers, VIII); Lady Morgan, ‘The Béranger of Ireland’ (in O’Keeffe’s Legacy). He was the most prolific author of musical comedies; a Jacobite in the pay of the House of Brunswick; a Catholic (with a son a Protestant minister), and a painter. His most popular work was The Poor Soldier (Covent Garden in 1783), new ed. (Dublin 1784) 34pp. Titles of Irish interest, ‘Patrick’s Day in the Morning’, poem, in Legacy, p.167; Harlequin Teague, or the Giant’s Causeway (text in Larpent; songs publ. London 1782); The Castle of Andulusia (text printed in Cork 1783); The Shamrock; or St. Patrick’s Day (Crow St., unpub., Larpent). Some works in Collection of Farces, 2 vols. (J. Smith, Dublin 1785); others printed piratically in Dublin, such as Wild Oats, or the Strolling Gentlemen, 5 act com. (Dublin 1791), a Covent Gdn. play of that year; Olympus in an Uproar, or the Descent of the Deities (Covent Gnd. 1796, adapted from Kane O’Hara’s The Golden Pippin, Larpent ms). (See also Rafroidi, 1980, Vol. I, under Commentary, supra.)

[ top ]

Joseph Leerssen, Mere Irish & Fíor Ghael (Amst.: Ben. Blom 1986), Captain Mullinaheck, in O’Keeffe’s The World in A Village (1793), ‘Madam, let me be blown into chops and griskins from the mouth of a cannon, when I turn my face as an enemy against George my belov’d King, and Ireland my honoured country!’ [146]. His comic opera Fontainbleu (1790) features an Irish innkeeper in France who lures English tourists to her establishment (The British Lion), with English fare and English jingo-ism, ‘English! that’s what I am. I was born in Dublin.’ [Leerssen, p.149.] Also O’Keeffe, The Prisoner at Large (Newmarket, 1778) set near Killarney lakes; here the tenants are being racked by the middleman Dowdle, acting for absentee Lord Esmond, then on the Grand Tour; the evil Count Fripon, a sharper, is trying to collect the rents; and when Esmond returns he manages with the help of honest Jack Connor to overthrow the schemes of middleman and parasite. [Joseph Leerssen, Mere Irish & Fíor Ghael, 1986, p.158]. And BIBL, Dramatic Works, 4 vols. (London 1798); Fountainbleu, &c. (Dublin 1790); The she-gallant, or, square-toes outwitted (London 1767); The world in a village (London n.d. [1790]).

[ top ]

Seamus Deane, gen. ed., The Field Day Anthology of Irish Writing (Derry: Field Day 1991), Vol. 1: selects Tony Lumpkin in Town’, 647-50; The Poor Soldier, 650-54. BIOG & COMM, 657; Vol. 2 selects The Agreeable Surprise “The Jingle” [‘Amo, Amas’]. Note, FDA (Field Day 1991), Vol. 1, refers reader to Peter Kavanagh (Irish Theatre, 1947) for listing of 77 plays, operas, farces and afterpieces as well as the Cambridge Bibliography of English Literature, Vol. II, and supplies a ‘brief selection’ from Kavanagh’s list the addition of Valentine and Orson; or, the Wild Man of Orleans (London 1795) - presum. from Cambridge Bibl. FDA1 cites the 1st Dublin edn. of Tony Lumpkin in Town as 1780, and that of The Poor Soldier as 1789.

[ top ]

A. N. Jeffares & Peter Van de Kamp, eds., Irish Literature: The Eighteenth Century - An Annotated Anthology (Dublin/Oregon: Irish Academic Press 2006) select “Amo, Amas, I Love a Lass” [321]

Trinity College Libraries, Dublin hold The Castle of Andalusia, a comic opera in three acts (J. Sullivan 1783), 8p.; with cast list for Smock Alley performance.

Belfast Public Library holds O’Keeffe’s Legacy to his Daughter, being the Poetical Works of the late John O’Keeffe, 2 vols. (1834); Recollections (1826).

[ top ]

Notes
Thomas Moore: Moore acknowledged his indebtedness to O’Keeffe’s Irish songs in the first vol. of his Poetical Works, which also relates that he acted in amateur productions of The Poor Soldier and Harlequin Pantomime [presum. in Kilkenny] and also wrote and recited ‘an appropriate epilogue for the occasion’ (Poetical Works, p.16; quoted in Robert Ward, Encyclopaedia of Irish Schools, 1500-1800, 1995, p.154; see further under Moore, supra.)

[ top ]

Joseph Holloway: Holloway’s dramatic bibliography in Guide to Books on Ireland, ed. Stephen Brown, contains an erroneous listing under John [?]O’Kelly, The Shamrock or the Anniversary of St. Patrick (Cvt. Gdn. 1783), with title[s] changed to The Poor Soldier; Wicklow Mountains or Gold in Ireland, The Lad of the Hills, Love in the Camp (Patrick in Prussia) [GBI]; and note that Patrick O’Kelly follows John O’Keeffe in Justin McCarthy, gen. ed., Irish Literature (Washington 1904).

[ top ]

O’Keeffe’s Recollections of the Dublin stage are frequently quoted in the critical literature, viz., Fitzpatrick’s Dublin, Gilbert’s History of Dublin and also in Dictionary of National Biography entries on Irish dramatists and actors. R. B. Sheridan, attending the first performance with him and advised cutting the part of Agnes.

[ top ]

Diddle-de-di: The Banditti, or Love’s Labyrinth (Nov. 1781), com. opera, incorporates music by Carolan and other Irish players. O’Keeffe’s Recollections notes that the inclusion of the songs “Voorneen Deelish Elleen Oge”, and “Erin go Bra”, at that time known only by its Irish words, ‘had no saving effect.’

[ top ]