The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 20.0157 Saturday, 4 April 2009
From: Brian Nugent <
Date: Saturday, 4 Apr 2009 01:32:24 -0700 (PDT)
Subject: Re: Post-Doctoral Fellowship: Shakespeare in Ireland
>Shakespearean Performance in Dublin and Belfast, 1660-1900
>Moore Institute, National University of Ireland, Galway
>A vacancy exists for a postdoctoral researcher to work on a
>research project on Shakespeare and Ireland, which is funded
>by The Irish Research Council for the Humanities and Social
>Sciences (IRCHSS). This project will create a record of
>performances of Shakespeare's plays in Dublin and Belfast,
>from the Restoration to the foundation of the Abbey
>The successful candidate will carry out research on
>Shakespearean performance in Dublin and Belfast, 1660-1900,
>and will undertake other related tasks. Candidates should
>have been awarded the degree of PhD on or before August
>2009. Proven expertise in at least two of the following
>areas is desirable for the position:
>. Irish theatre history
>. Shakespeare in performance
>. Archival research
>. Critical editing
>. Web-authoring and design
>The postdoctoral researcher will be paid ?31,745 per annum.
>Provision will be made for some travel and research
>expenses, subject to terms and conditions. The researcher
>will be expected to participate in and contribute fully to
>the activities of NUI Galway on a full-time basis during the
>course of their funding. The post is tenable for one year.
>START DATE 1st September 2009
>To apply, please send a letter of application (outlining
>your qualifications for the position), an academic CV, two
>academic references, and a writing sample to Dr Patrick
>Applications and references may be sent via e-mail to
>Postal applications may be sent to Dr. Patrick Lonergan,
>English, School of Humanities, NUI Galway, Ireland.
>For informal enquiries about this post please contact Dr.
>Patrick Lonergan via e-mail or by phone at + 353 91 49 5609
>Closing date for receipt of applications is 5 pm on Monday
>4th May 2009.
>National University of Ireland, Galway is an equal
>Further information about this post is available on
I wonder if this research post shows the increasing interest there is in
the mysterious references Shakespeare has to Ireland. Apart from a few
wafflish supposedly academic pieces that have appeared from the 19th
century on, the story of Shakespeare and Ireland has been articulated
over the centuries by the following writers:
Born in County Clare he became a bank clerk in Dublin in 1876, is
well-known in Gaelic Revival history and formed the Gaelic Union with
Father Nolan in 1879. In 1894 he wrote a piece for the Freeman's Journal
showing some of the mysterious Irish references in Shakespeare, which
was later off-printed as a book called 'Irish Ilustrations to Shakespeare.'
William J. Lawrence
A leading Irish drama critic, and historian of Irish drama, from Belfast
William J. Lawrence wrote: 'Was Shakespeare Ever in Ireland?', in
Shakespeare Jahrbuch, vol. XXXV (1906). Again noting the curious
references by Shakespeare with regard to Ireland he thought maybe
Shakespeare's drama company had visited Ireland. (Actually there is no
evidence at all that Shakespeare from Stratford had ever come to Ireland.)
Sir John Byers
A medical man at Queen's University Belfast, in 1916 he wrote an article
for the Northern Whig which also went into the mysterious fact that
Shakespeare's vocabulary and diction seemed to him anyway to be purely
Irish. The article called 'Shakespeare and the Ulster Dialect' was later
off-printed as a book.
Sir Dunbar Plunket Barton
This subject was then revived by an Irish High Court Judge a few years
later. An experienced historian, he apparently spent many years in the
Dublin libraries researching his 'Links Between Ireland and Shakespeare'
(Dublin, 1919). In that book, and in speeches he made at the time, he is
at pains to distance himself from the concept that Shakespeare was in
fact Irish. But somehow you get the impression that 'he doth protest too
much' because there are some sly references thrown into James Joyce's
_Ulysses_ which relate the gossip of the time which was that he did
think Shakespeare was Irish. Later, in 1929, he wrote another book on
the 'Links Between Shakespeare and the Law'.
Thomas Fingal Healy
The story now switches to the US some two decades later. T F Healy came
to the US c. 1912 and married Patricia Richcreek (sometimes known by her
stepfather's name Goode, later by her married names Healy then Harrison)
from New York. They mixed in the milieu of the early beatniks in that
city. He had a daughter by her called Brehon Michele Healy and died c.
1947. Quite a prolific Irish writer some of his works include:
_Death of a Spy_, (semi fictional) Coronet Nov 1936.
_The Last Escape_, Coronet Mar 1937
_Secret of the Deep_, Liberty (Canada) Jun 1 1946
_The Colossal Potato_, Liberty (Canada) Nov 2 1946
_The Tempting of Michaeleen_, Argosy (UK) Dec 1945.
He also wrote an article on de Valera for "Dictators and Democrats" (New
York, 1941) and "Policy of Neutrality Regarded as Set by Her Own
People," for the New York Times, June 1, 1941, and some other pieces for
the 'Columbia' and 'Esquire' magazines.
He came right out and stated that the traditions among the old poets in
Ireland was that Shakespeare was Irish and incorporated some of his
heritage secretly in his plays. He wrote this in 'The American Mercury'
in Sept 1940 in an article called 'Shakespeare was an Irishman'.
That article wasn't followed up though and the story goes into abeyance
until we come across what in County Meath are known as 'relics of auld
dacency' lol: a Protestant antiquarian who was rattling around an old
castle in the Pale in the 1970s. She was a leading light all her life on
Meath history and wrote countless articles and some books particularly
for the journal of the Meath Archaeological and Historical Society,
Riocht na Midhe. Anyway she persuaded them in 1978 to undertake the
publication of a remarkable book called 'The Green Cockatrice'. In that
she details the account of an Irish nobleman who lived for a time at
Skryne and whose life story seemed to her to make him a perfect
candidate for Shakespeare. She herself stayed anonymous, publishing it
under the name 'Basil Iske', although when writing on the cover that the
book was available from the 'secretary of the Meath Historical Society'
she was actually referring to herself. Some people in fact bought the
book from her that way without realising she wrote it! Anyway it was the
talk of the county for a short while, with a big write up in the Meath
Chronicle and she was even interviewed by the BBC, but unfortunately it
wasn't republished and is not so well-remembered now except among the
Meath historical groups and local booksellers. It is, nonetheless,
well-known to be a high quality work with much authoritative research by
an always highly thought of historian.
Anyway you can read about the Irish references in Shakespeare here:
and hopefully you can see where some of these authors have been coming
from. As an example of this note that Shakespeare uses the Irish
language sometimes, like the word 'brogue' for shoe, 'kam' for crooked,
and 'Calin o custure me', and uses phrases like 'a hundred thousand
welcomes', 'God bless the mark', and 'Did you ever hear the like? . . .
did you ever hear of such a thing?' which is very Irish diction, and
there are countless other examples detailed in those books.
Who knows maybe Ireland can unlock the secrets of Shakespeare by more
than just preserving a portrait!
[Editor's Note: Brian Nugent's proposal that exploring Shakespeare's
references/connections to Ireland is legitimate. Some of the suggestions
at the website noted above that Shakespeare was in fact Irish are, of
course, ridiculous. If I were to make a list of all of the suggestions
of Shakespeare's heritages that have been shared with me over the years,
subscribers would, I am sure, be astounded. However, to settle any
lingering doubts anyone might have that Shakespeare was Irish, perhaps I
should contact the person who e-mailed me a few years back to object to
another of these suggestions; I was assured at that time that this
poster's suggestion that Shakespeare was <___________ fill-in the blank
here, just about any heritage will do> was wrong; since as one of the
many re-incarnations of William Shakespeare, she should know. --HMCook]
S H A K S P E R: The Global Shakespeare Discussion List
Hardy M. Cook,
The S H A K S P E R Web Site <http://www.shaksper.net>
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