Ernest Blythe and the Abbey

  • Tomás Macanna
Part of the Interviews and Recollections book series (IR)


I first met Ernest Blythe when, a few days after I arrived in Dublin to join the Customs and Excise some time in the late October of 1944, I presented myself at the Abbey Theatre, armed with a sprawling letter from Lennox Robinson, three words to the page, to say that he had seen my work at the Dundalk Little Theatre and thought that I was quite good as a scenic designer. I had no appointment, but found myself courteously received in a tiny paper-stuffed office above the foyer and proceeded to offer my services not alone as a scenic artist, but as a playwright, play director, actor and general theatrical messiah, all in my best Christian Brothers’ Gaelic.


Walk Away Irish Time Irish Language Play Director Language Revival 
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  1. Tomas MacAnna (1926– ) has been with the Abbey Theatre since 1947 when he joined the company as director of plays in Irish. Later, he was appointed stage designer. In 1972, he was appointed to the Abbey’s Board of directors, and from 1966 to 1968 and 1973 to 1978, he was the theatre’s artistic director. His writings include ‘Nationalism from the Abbey Stage’, in Theatre and Nationalism in Twentieth-Century Ireland , ed. Robert O’Driscoll (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1971) pp. 89–101.Google Scholar
  2. 3.
    On the Abbey Theatre’s policy of producing plays in Irish see Earnan de Blaghd (Ernest Blythe), ‘The Abbey Theatre and the Irish Language’, Threshold (Belfast), 2 (Summer 1958) 26–33.Google Scholar
  3. 4.
    Quoted by Donai Dorcey in The Story of the Abbey Theatre , ed. Sean McCann (London: New English Library, 1967) p. 156.Google Scholar
  4. See also Quidnunc, ‘An Irishman’s Diary’, Irish Times , 10 Nov 1947, p. 5.Google Scholar
  5. See Micheâl MacLiammóir, ‘Some Talented Women’, Bell (Dublin), 8 (May 1944) 117–27.Google Scholar

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© Palgrave Macmillan, a division of Macmillan Publishers Limited 1988

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  • Tomás Macanna

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