Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Thomas Kilroy's "The O'Neill" staged this week in 1969

Forty-three years ago this week saw the first production of Tom Kilroy’s play “The O’Neil” on the Peacock Stage of the Abbey Theatre.

“The O'Neill”, Thomas Kilroy's first stage play, was written in 1966. It dramatizes the fate of Hugh O'Neill, Earl of Tyrone (c.1540-1616), whose defeat by the English at the Battle of Kinsale in 1601 led to the final dissolution of the ancient Irish order of government and the Plantation of Ulster. The Thomas Kilroy Archive is one of our featured collections here at the James Hardiman Library. The archive of Thomas Kilroy, held here at the James Hardiman Library, NUI Galway, features numerous drafts and version of the play, a French translation of the play, correspondence between Tom Kilroy and numerous individuals concerning the play including Ernest Blythe, Tomas McAnna, Cyril Cusack, Hilton Edwards and Kilroy’s agent Margaret Ramsay.

“The O’Neill”, Kilroy’s first play and still considered by many to be one of his best and also one of the most important in Irish theatre with its themes of Anglo-Irish relations under the main focus of Kilroy’s attention. 'What call had you coming here thinking to change us? We have our ways, our laws, and our language, the same as the English have, and we're proud of them . . .' 
A review of the original production, published in the Irish Independent, 31 May 1969, from Desmond Ryan is included below.
A feature interview with Tom Kilroy marking the occasion of the completing of the cataloguing of his archive is available on the James Hardiman Library website here
The full descriptive list of the Kilroy archive is available here

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