Newswire » Local History » Happy Birthday Sean O’Casey

Happy Birthday Sean O’Casey

NPG P308; Sean O'Casey by Wolfgang Suschitzky

Happy Birthday Sean O’Casey

Sean O’Casey 30 March 1880 – 18 September 1964

Sean O’Casey was born on this day (the 30th March) in 1880 – 135 years ago. An Irish dramatist born in Upper Dorset Street in the north inner city of Dublin, he wrote 29 plays and 6 volumes of memoirs in his lifetime. His first accepted play was performed at the Abbey Theatre in 1923 – The Shadow of a Gunman a play based on the War of Independence.

The Abbey Theatre was built on the same site as the original Mechanics’ Theatre, where O’Casey once acted in a play called The Shaughraun when he was a teenager. O’Casey was inspired to become a writer soon after his friend Thomas Ashe died in a hunger strike a year after the Easter Rising in 1917 and then turned to writing plays. Even though O’Casey left school at the age of fourteen he was to become an Irish Nationalist and learned the Irish Language, joining the Gaelic League in 1906. He decided to change his name to the Gaelic intonation, from John Casey to Seán Ó Cathasaigh.

O’Casey, a follower and admirer of Jim Larkin – Irish Labour Leader – joined the Irish Republican Brotherhood and became General Secretary of the Irish Citizen Army in 1914 spearheaded by Jim Larkin. His plays were based on the poverty and hardships of Irish men and woman living in the slums of Dublin.

It was a time working classes found themselves caught up in the war and rebellion, struggling for freedom; fighting poverty, deprivation and violence. He cloaked this unrest in Dublin’s slums in comedy, making audiences weep with laughter and sadness. His three greatest plays were the Shadow of a gunman (1923), Juno and the Paycock (1924) and The Plough and the Stars (1926).  Throughout this period, O Casey moved away from violent nationalism and towards socialism, seeing all war as the slaughter of the Working Classes.

O’Casey’s plays were often rejected and in 1928 W. B. Yeats turned down. O’Casey’s fourth play – the Silver Tassie (1928) – saying that it was to imperialistic for the Abbey and that it would cause suffering. Sean O’Casey died 18th September, 1964 in Torquay, England.

Here are a few famous quotes from the works of Sean O’Casey:

“The flame from the angel’s sword in the Garden of Eden has been catalyzed into the atom bomb; God’s thunderbolt became blunted, so man’s thunderbolt has become the steel star of destruction.”

“Money does not make you happy but it quiets the nerves.”

“Laughter is wine for the soul-laughter soft, or loud and deep, tinged through with seriousness. The hilarious declaration by man that life is worth living.”

Leave a Reply

© 1991-2014 Fountain Resource Group Ltd. · Registered Company Number: 193051C · RSS · Website designed by Solid Website Design