Seán O’Casey was born in Dublin
O’Casey’s father died when Seán was just six years of age, leaving a family of thirteen. The family lived a peripatetic life thereafter, moving from house to house around north Dublin. As a child, he suffered from poor eyesight, which interfered somewhat with his early education, but O’Casey taught himself to read and write by the age of thirteen.
He left school at fourteen and worked at a variety of jobs, including a nine-year period as a railway man. O’Casey worked in Easons for a short while, in the newspaper distribution business, but was sacked for not taking off his cap when collecting his wage packet.
O’Casey’s first accepted play, The Shadow of a Gunman, was performed at the Abbey Theatre in 1923. This was the beginning of a relationship that was to be fruitful for both theatre and dramatist but which ended in some bitterness.
The play deals with the impact of revolutionary politics on Dublin’s slums and their inhabitants, and is understood to be set in Mountjoy Square, where he lived during the 1916 Easter Rising. It was followed by Juno and the Paycock (1924) and The Plough and the Stars (1926). The former deals with the effect of the Irish Civel War on the working class poor of the city, while the latter is set in Dublin in 1916 around the Easter Rising. Juno and the Paycock became a film directed by Alfred Hitchcock.
The Plough and the Stars was not well received by the Abbey audience and resulted in scenes reminiscent of the riots that greeted J.M. Synge’s The Playboy of the Western World in 1907. There was a riot reported on the fourth night of the show. His depiction of sex and religion even offended some of the actors, who refused to speak their lines. The full-scale riot occurred partly because the play was thought to be an attack on the men in the rising and partly in protest in opposition to the animated appearance of a prostitute in Act 2 W.B. Yeats intervened and described the audience as “shaming themselves”. The takings of the play were substantial compared with the previous week. O’Casey gave up his job and became a full-time writer.
After the incident, even though the play was well liked by most of the Abbey goers, Liam O’Flaherty, Austin Clarke, and F.R. Higgins launched an attack against it in the press. O’Casey believed it was an attack on Yeats, that they were using O’Casey’s play to berate Yeats. Each print is individually numbered and signed by Peter Deighan, and is accompanied by a Certificate of Authenticity which is also signed by the artist.
Limited Edition (Worldwide): 500
Image Size: 320mm x 395mm Print Size: 14” x 19” approx.