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Read an article by Philip O’Leary on Cork playwright Seán Ó Tuama in the Evening Echo, 12 July 2017 Read an article by Philip O�Leary on the history of Irish-language theatre in the Irish Times, 29 June 2017

An Underground Theatre
Major Playwrights in the Irish Language 1930-80

Philip O'Leary (author)
Publication date:
1st June 2017

Author Biography

Philip O'Leary was born and raised in Worcester, Massachusetts and received his Ph.D. in Celtic languages from Harvard University. He is the author of Ideology and Innovation: The Prose Literature of the Gaelic Revival, 1881-1921 (1994), winner of the 1995 Donald Murphy Prize from the American Conference for Irish Studies; Deirc an Dochais: Leamh arShaothar Phadhraic Oig Ui Chonaire (1995); Gaelic Prose in the Irish Free State, 1922-1939 (2004), winner of the 2005 Michael Durkan Prize from the American Conference for Irish Studies; Irish Interior: Keeping Faith with the Past in Gaelic Prose, 1940-1951 (2010); and Writing beyond the Revival: Facing the Future in Gaelic Prose, 1940-1951 (2011). He is a professor of English at Boston College and an honorary professor at the National University of Ireland, Galway.


Irish-language theatre has at times been on the fringes of Ireland's cultural landscape - invisible and underground - but its influence can be seen all over the island of Ireland. An Underground Theatre is the first full-length study of playwrights working in the Irish language in the pivotal 1930-80 period. In this landmark volume Philip O'Leary analyses the works of Mairead Ni Ghrada, Seamus O Neill, Eoghan O Tuairisc, Sean O Tuama, and Criostoir O Floinn and discusses the production history of their plays and the critical reception of first productions and major revivals. O'Leary also outlines the beginnings of drama in Irish in the early twentieth century and provides important historical context. The developments in Irish-language theatre since 1980 are also discussed in this important contribution to Irish theatre studies. Using a wide range of sources, O'Leary gives a thorough evaluation of five of the most significant Irish-language playwrights and charts the monumental influence and reach of their work.