Goldsmith: Vicar of Wakefield, She Stoops to Conquer; Sheridan: The Rivals, The School for Scandal, The Critic; R. Edgeworth: Essay on Irish Bulls; M. Edgeworth: Castle Rackrent, The Absentee; Maginn: Miscellanies in Prose and Verse; Carleton: Traits and Stories of the Irish Peasantry; Mahony (Father Prout): Reliques of Father Prout; John and Michael Banim: Tales of the O’Hara Family; Lover: Legends and Stories of Ireland, Handy Andy; Lever: Harry Lorrequer, Charles O’Malley, Lord Kilgobbin; Le Fanu: The Purcell Papers; Barlow: Bogland Studies, Irish Idylls, Irish Neighbours; Birmingham: The Seething Pot, Spanish Gold, The Major’s Niece, The Red Hand of Ulster, General John Regan; Stephens: The Crock of Gold, Here are Ladies; Hunt: The Folk Tales of Breffny; Purdon: The Folk of Furry Farm; Somerville and Ross: The Real Charlotte, Some Experiences of an Irish R.M., All on the Irish Shore, Dan Russel the Fox.
By JOSEPH HOLLOWAY.
The Irish theatre and secular drama may be said to begin with the production of James Shirley’s historical play, St. Patrick for Ireland, in Werburgh Street Theatre, about 1636-7; and though Dublin was a great school for acting, and supplied many of the best players to the English stage, such as Quin, Macklin, Peg Woffington, Miss O’Neill, and hosts of others, it never really possessed a creative theatre (save at the Capel Street Theatre for a few years during the Grattan Parliament) until the modern movement in Ireland came into being and the Abbey Theatre became its headquarters.
Of course, innumerable plays by Irish writers were written, but most of them were not distinctively Irish in character; and the names of Goldsmith, Sheridan, O’Keeffe, Farquhar, Sheridan Knowles, Oscar Wilde, and dozens of others will always be remembered as great Irish writers for the stage. And when fine impersonators of Irish character like Tyrone Power, John Drew, or Barney Williams arrived, there were always to be found several clever writers to fit them with parts, the demand always creating the supply.
Even before Dion Boucicault took to writing Irish dramas of a more palatable and less “stage-Irish” character than those of his immediate predecessors, some excellent plays, Irish in character and tone, had from time to time found their way to the stage. However, Boucicault sweetened our stage by the production of The Colleen Bawn, Arrah-na-Pogue, and The Shaughraun, and showed by his rollicking impersonations of Myles, Shan, and Conn, how good-humored, hearty, and self-sacrificing Irish boys in humble life can be. He had great technical knowledge of stagecraft, and that has helped to make his Irish plays live in the popular goodwill right up to today.