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.
The following piece was written by Brendan Leen for Cregan Library:
"I printed poets, sad, silly and
solemn: I printed Patrick What-do-you-Colm."
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
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