Philip Rooney

Life
1907-1966; b. Sligo; bank clerk and later head of script writing for RTE; his novels include Singing River (1944); Captain Boycott (1946); The Quest for Matt Talbot (1949). DIB DIW IF2 DIL

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Commentary
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, espec. p.110ff.: ‘[in Captain Boycott] Rooney also opposes the parish priest who favours the Land League, prividing it should use peacful methods, to a Fenian leader whose only thought is to fight the British Army.’ (Debeer, p.111.)

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James Cahalan, Great Hatred, Little Room, The Irish Historical Novel (1983): Philip Rooney returned to the romantic world of Redmond O’Hanlon in North Road (1940) and dramatised the late-19th c. Land War in Captain Boycott (1946), but these books were ... popular documentaries rather than novels. (p.133).

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Kevin Rockett, et al., eds., Cinema & Ireland (1988) cites a film, Captain Boycott (1947), dir. Frank Launder, with Stewart Granger as Hugh Davin; the film suggests that collective violence leads to social breakdown, not cohesion, and argues for constitutional Home Rule with Parnell against Fenian militancy; date given as 1947 in text (1945 in index).

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Benedict Kiely, Sing to the Bird (London: Methuen 1991), notes that Philip Rooney, as also Denis Johnston, wrote plays about the case of Thomas Hartley Montgomery, a sub-inspector of police, who was hanged for the murder of William Glass, cashier of the Northern bank, in Newtownstewart in 1873 - for a century ‘among the most celebrated Ulster murders’: ‘The building, the bank, the very office in which it happened, are still there. No patriot, not even in these explosive times, has yet found reason or unreason for blowing them up.’ Kiely further narrates that the grave of Montgomery in Culmore, was accidentally opened by a horse’s hoof and the skull revealed. (p.139.)

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References
Robert Hogan, ed., Dictionary of Irish Literature (Gill & Macmillan 1979); entry speaks of his ‘Historical dash’ in his poetry [966].

Libraries: Belfast Public Library holds Golden Coast (1947); Long Day (1951); North Road (1946); Singing River (1944). University of Ulster Library holds Captain Boycott.

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