The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 20.0157  Saturday, 4 April 2009

From:       Brian Nugent <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:       Saturday, 4 Apr 2009 01:32:24 -0700 (PDT)
Subject:    Re: Post-Doctoral Fellowship: Shakespeare in Ireland

 >Postdoctoral Fellowship
 >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 
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
 >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
 >opportunity employer.
 >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:

David Comyn.
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'.

Elizabeth Hickey
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, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
The S H A K S P E R Web Site <http://www.shaksper.net>

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