Mary O’Malley

Life
[?- ]; b. Mallow, Co. Cork; engaged in socialist drama in Dublin, 1940s; worked at Abbey; m. Dr. P. Pearse O’Malley and moved to Belfast; formed Lyric Players, 1951, ‘a poet’s theatre’ on verse-speaking principles of W. B. Yeats; produced At the Hawk’s Well and The Dreaming of the Bones by Yeats; Robert Farren, Lost Light; Valentine Iremonger, Wrap Up My Green Jacket (on Emmet); moved to Derryvolgie Ave., and built a fifty-seater theatre and gallery on to the family home, 1952; produced 31 international plays; fnd. Threshold, 1957, but failed to launch dramatic verse movement by it; established drama school, Children’s Theatre; played at Dublin Theatre Festival and Yeats Summer School, Sligo, 1962; also produced Synge’s Deirdre, and Riders to the Sea; Donagh MacDonagh’s Lady Spider; Jack Yeats’s La La Noo; Friel’s the enemy Within; Criotoir O’Flynn [Ó Floinn], Romance of an Idiot; Beckcett’s Endgame; Eugene McCabe’s King of the Castle; Sam Thompson’s Over the Bridge; Wesley Burrows’ The Becauseway, as well as plays by O’Casey, who subscribed money on several occasions and permitted a production of The Silver Tassie while his plays were under personal embargo in Dublin; Austin Clarke raises the portal stone of Lyric Theatre, Ridgeway St., Belfast, 12 July 1965; produced all of Yeats’s plays and others including Jack Whyte’s The Last Eleven; living in Dublin.

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Works
Shake Hands with the Devil (Dublin: Elo Press 1990), [autobiog.].

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Criticism
Sam Hanna Bell, ‘Theatre’, in Michael Longley, ed., Causeway: The Arts in Ulster (1971), pp.72-94, espec. pp.84-85; [unsigned, presum. by James Simmons], ‘Mary O’Malley of the Lyric Players Theatre’, Honest Ulsterman, 1 (May 1968), pp.32-35; [q.a.], ‘Onlie begetter of the Lyric Theatre, Belfast’, Books Ireland (Feb. 1991), [citing ‘History of the Lyric’ by her son, viz., A Poet’s Theatre (Dublin: Elo Press 1988)].

Gate Theatre production withdrawn”, Belfast Newsletter (25 May 1955) [cutting in Sybil Le Brocquy Papers; held by family]: ‘CHANGES in the programmes of the Gate Theatre company at the Grand Opera, House, Belfast, were announced last night. / Elmer Rice’s “Not for Children” will be taken off after to-night’s performance. It will be replaced during the remaining three nights of this week by Maura Laverty’s “ Liffey Lane,” with which the company opened its present visit to Belfast. / “The Masquerade,” by Pirandello, which was to have been presented next week has also been withdrawn. It will be replaced by Maura Laverty’s “Tolka Row,” which the company presented when in Belfast last year. / Arrangements are being made for the “props” for “Tolka Row” to be brought from Dublin by road. / Referring to the changes in programmes, Mr. George Lodge, managing director of the Grand Opera House, told the “NewsLetter” last night that “Not for Children” had been “very badly received in Belfast.’ [more]

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Notes
Kilkenny Cats: Mary O’Malley made an early contribution to the “Partition debate” in Kilkenny, organised by Hubert Butler, to that effect that the oppression of Catholics in Northern Ireland was not to be compared with fascism.

Laying the Foundations: Poem to Mary O’Malley by John Hewitt included in Programme for Laying of Foundation of Lyric Theatre Belfast, by Austin Clarke, 12 June 1965.

Namesake: A play, Once a Catholic by her English-born namesake and set in Willesden in 1954, giving a comic view of teenage under the auspices of the nuns, appeared successfully at the Grand Opera House, Belfast, March, 1997; there is a TV adaptation by the author herself.

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