Padraic Colum

This collection comprises books written by or about the renowned Irish poet, playwright, novelist, children's author and folklorist, Padraic Colum. The collection spans an impressively diverse range of subject matter. Did you know, for example, that Colum compiled several collections of Polynesian mythology? Come and have a look at his fascinating three-volume Tales and Legends of Hawaii series.

Related Essay:
The following piece was written by Brendan Leen for Cregan Library:
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"I printed poets, sad, silly and solemn: I printed Patrick What-do-you-Colm."
      James Joyce, Gas from a Burner
"It cannot be denied that Colum failed to live up to the great promise of his youth, but neither can it be denied that in his three plays, The Land, The Fiddler's House and Thomas Muskerry, there is an achievement that marks him as one of the formative dramatists of the Irish theatre, and one of the considerable dramatists of his time."
Andrew Malone, The Irish Drama Poet, playwright, novelist, children's author and folklorist, Pauric Colum was born on December 8th, 1881, son of Patrick and Susan Colum, at a workhouse in Longford run by his father.
Colum's early years were spent in Longford and Cavan, before his family moved to Sandycove, where his father became railway station manager. He attended Glasthule National School in Sandycove and at the age of seventeen, with only eight years of formal education, passed an examination for a clerkship in the Irish Railway Clearing House; it was at this time, also, that the young Colum began -- after a nine-hour workday in a six-day working week -- to write poetry and plays.
At twenty-two, he was given a five-year scholarship by a wealthy American patron, Thomas Kelly, for a period of study and writing at UCD. A number of his early poems appeared in Arthur Griffith's United Irishman; The Poor Scholar, in particular, elicited much praise and attracted the attention of W.B. Yeats.
In 1902, he won a Cumann na nGaedhael prize for a play that would propagandise against the enlistment of Irish soldiers in the British army with The Saxon Shillin'. Through the production of The Saxon Shillin' Colum met with the brothers William and Frank Fay and was invited to join the National Theatre Society. He was an original signatory of the Abbey charter and wrote three of the earliest Abbey plays, The Land (1905), The Fiddler's House (1907) and Thomas Muskerry (1910). The first two were well received as examples of a new realism in Irish drama. One review of The Land reads:
"Although this is hardly theatre-going weather, there was an excellent and enthusiastic house at the Abbey Theatre last night to witness the National Theatre Society's performance. The chief interest of the evening was, of course, The Land. It is an ambitious title, but it was the only title possible. Everything in the play springs out of the land, and the mind of every actor in it is coloured by love or hatred of the land. If there is one thing beyond dispute in Mr Colum's work it is his power to create individuals. Mr Colum's dialect is admirable. It lives, which is everything. It is strong, coloured, subtle, and early rises into lyricism. The play has a curious formal excellence. It preserves absolutely the unity of time, the whole action being compressed into something less than two hours. No play yet produced in the Abbey Theatre has so gripped and held captive an audience. There have been fuller houses, but never more enthusiastic."

Thomas Muskerry, on the other hand, was deemed excessively gloomy by nationalist critics.
Although Colum never subsequently produced a dramatic masterpiece, his early work established the genre of realist folk drama which featured prominently in the Abbey Theatre's repertoire. The Saxon Shillin' was later rejected by the Abbey as anti-recruitment propaganda, prompting some members, among them Arthur Griffith and Maud Gonne, to leave the company.
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