Saturday, March 10, 2012

Shields Archive - Letter from Sean O'Casey to Barry Fitzgerald, 1959

This day marks the birth of William Joseph Shields in 1888. A civil servant, his first interest was acting and he followed his brother Arthur into the Abbey, taking the stage name Barry Fitzgerald to avoid any problems with his employer. His best roles in the Abbey were in Sean O’Casey plays, and from the late 1920s he found himself in film roles. Deciding to become a professional actor, he toured with the Abbey in the States in the 1930s, going into the film business. His defining moment in film came in 1944 when he starred as Fr Fitzgibbon alongside Bing Crosby in Going my way (1944). Nowadays he is perhaps best remembered as the match-maker MicaleenOg in The Quiet Man by John Ford, shot here in Galway by John Ford in 1952, a film in which his brother Arthur also starred. He died in Dublin on 4th January 1961.

Today’s image, a letter dated 11 Dec 1959, is from Sean O'Casey, Flat 3, 40 Trumlands Road, St. Marychurch, Torquay, Devon addressed to Will (Barry Fitzgerald). O'Casey writes that he has heard that Fitzgerald was ill, he writes 'I hope you are up, or, if not up then sitting bolt upright in bed having another look at the world.'

For more check out the Shields Family Collection, housed in the James Hardiman Library, a descriptive list for the collection is available at .

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