A number of years ago it was suggested to me that the Irish
Club was possessed of so many colourful characters that they were
worthy of a play in their own right.
I avoided the bait until I happened upon a script of The
Brother by Eamon Morrissey which is an adaptation of the writings of
Brian O'Nolan (aka Flann O'Brien, aka Myles na gCopaleen). It was
written as a one hander stage play. I hadn't laughed so much in a long
time and it led to me searching out a copy of the collected works of
Myles na gCopaleen.
Brian O'Nolan (born 5 October 1911, died 1 April 1966 - aged
54) was a public servant in Dublin who wrote under various pseudonyms
to avoid running foul of government rules that forbade public servants
from publishing written pieces. It was argued that this was in order to
remain strictly non-political but I suspect it was also to avoid
receiving criticism of government policies from within their own
O'Nolan's novels were written under the pen name Flann O'Brien
while his wildly satirical column, Cruiskeen Lawn (published in The
Dublin Times), was under the pseudonym Myles na gCopaleen.
Somehow six of the Irish Club's many notable characters and the
bizarre stories of O'Nolan, as Myles na gCopaleen, took hold in the
infertile soil of my brain.
It's interesting to note that O'Nolan came up with the name
Myles na gCopaleen by appropriating it from fellow Irish writer Dion
Boucicault's character of the same name (Myles-na-Coppaleen) who
appeared in The Colleen Bawn. This play was performed by the Irish
Community Players in 1977.
Initially I applied for the performance rights to The Brother
but I was rejected so I thought, if it's good enough for Morrissey to
plunder O'Nolan's work then I can do likewise.
I had read O'Nolan's (in the guise of Flann O'Brien) absurdist
novel, At Swim-Two-Birds (one of his better known works), many years
earlier and the germination of the play gradually began to take
Six characters, the creation of the seemly omnipotent author,
Your Man, inhabit the Flann O'Brien Memorial bar, a rundown ladies
lounge. They are waiting for Your Man to provide them with new roles
but Your Man seems to be undergoing some sort of writer's block for his
output has been notably deficient for some time.
While the characters wait they fill in time by reminiscing,
squabbling, and occasionally taking matters into their own
There are echoes of O'Brien's At Swim-Two-Birds and Morrissey's
The Brother in this plot structure but Pirandello's Six Character's in
Search of an Author could also stake a claim.
I do not wish to defame the notable Irish Club members I
selected to use as characters by naming them, suffice to say that one
of them is now departed to tiling heaven, another has moved overseas,
and two of the cast members play themselves. I leave it up to you to
determine which two they may be as well as who could qualify as role
models for the remaining characters.
I started the writing process with the Myles na gCopaleen
stories front and centre but almost immediately the six characters I
had created took over and the script veered alarmingly off course.
Despite my best efforts to drag it back the characters refused to be
tamed and so I was forced to follow. I hope O'Brien would
I present Your Man, a somewhat distracted nod to Myles na
gCopaleen and homage to The Irish Community Players.