Chosen and Introduced by Robert O'Driscoll
The twelfth volume of the Irish Drama Selections series (ISSN 0260-7962), General Editors: Joseph Ronsley and Ann Saddlemyer.
Hardcover ISBN; 0-86140-148-4 / 978-0-86140-148-2 £35.00
Paperback ISBN; 0-86140-149-2 / 978-0-86140-149-9 £9.95
21.6 x 13.8 cm.
Contains: The King of Friday's Men, The Paddy Pedlar, The Wood of the Whispering, Daughter from over the Water, Petticoat Loose and the previously unpublished The Bachelor's Daughter, bibliographical checklist.
Michael Joseph Molloy (1917-1994) was born and died in Milltown, Co. Galway. Originally intending to enter the priesthood, this was prevented by his being struck down by tuberculosis, and it was during the long periods he spent in hospital that he started writing plays, having been inspired by a childhood visit to the Abbey Theatre, Dublin. His first play, Old Road, was produced at the Abbey in 1943, as was The Visiting House in 1946, and The King of Friday’s Men in 1948. When the old theatre burned down and the company moved to the Queen’s Theatre his The Wood of the Whispering and The Paddy Pedlar were produced there in 1953, followed by The Will and the Way in 1955, The Right Rose Tree in 1958, and The Wooing of Duvesa in 1964.
After the company’s return to the rebuilt Theatre in 1966 his plays – with their romantic plots and Syngean dialogue – did not find favour with the new Abbey, and with the exception of Petticoat Loose in 1979, none of his later works were performed professionally. By the late 1980s he had come to believe – as he wrote in one letter to the publisher of this selection – that the Abbey no longer even read plays by authors based in the provinces until they had been produced elsewhere (here he cited himself and John B.Keane as examples), and that his works scared the ‘actor Artistic Directors who know nothing about provincial Ireland and nothing about the rules of playwriting’. He feared his plays might be the last full-length folk plays written in Ireland.
Robert O'Driscoll, an authority on Samuel Ferguson and on the early works of W. B. Yeats, was Professor of English Literature at St Michael's College, University of Toronto, until his retirememt. He died in 1996.
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