Selected Plays of Douglas Hyde – ‘An Craoibhin Aoibhin’
Chosen and Introduced by Janet Egleson Dunleavy and Gareth Dunleavy
The seventh volume of the Irish Drama Selections series (ISSN 0260-7962), General Editors: Joseph Ronsley and Ann Saddlemyer.
Hardcover ISBN: 0-86140-095-X / 987-0-86140-095-9 £25.00
Paperback ISBN: 0-86140-096-8 / 978-0-86140-096-6 £8.99
21.6 x 13.8 cm 192 pp. 1991
Contains: The Twisting of the Rope, The Marriage, The Lost Saint, The Nativity, King James, The Bursting of the Bubble, The Tinker and the Sheeog, The Matchmaking, The School-master, bibliographical checklist. This volume publishes the original Irish language texts with Lady Gregory's translations.
When Douglas Hyde was elected in 1938 as first President of Ireland, he brought to this last of many rôles the prestige of an important scholar, a noted author and a leader of the cultural nationalist movement. Born in 1860, the son of the Church of Ireland rector at Frenchpark, Co. Roscommon, he grew up among the local people, learning Irish and listening to folk tales, which he began to record and which proved valuable experience when writing dialogue for his plays. After study at Trinity he became a founder member of the Gaelic League, formed in 1893 to preserve and promote the Irish language, and he was its President for twenty-two years.
Hyde was struck by the idea of promoting the Irish language through drama, especially puppet shows and short plays. In the hands of a writer less gifted in mimicry, with a less-developed sense of humour, the results of an effort undertaken for admittedly propagandist purposes might have been deadly. In his hands they ushered in a new dramatic tradition. That his one-act plays, classics of the modern Irish theatre, continue to be performed today, both in their original Irish and in Lady Gregory's English translations is but one indication of the versatility of his talent and his appeal to both popular and artistic tastes. Eight one-act plays are reproduced here with Lady Gregory's translations on the facing pages.
More than three decades after his death, the inevitable reassessment is under way and new stock must be taken of his rôles as folklorist, poet, translator and playwright, each assumed at a carefully chosen time for what it could contribute to the goal of his life: first the cultural, then the social and political independence of Ireland.