Playwright. Sean O'Casey’s parents were Protestants and he was a member of the Church of Ireland. As a teenager, he and his elder brother put on performances of plays, and he also got a small part in a play at a theater. He joined the Gaelic League in 1906, joined the Irish Republican Brotherhood and became General Secretary of the Irish Citizen Army. One of his first satirical ballads, "The Grand Oul' Dame Britannia," was published in The Workers' Republic in 1916 under his penname An Gall Fada. In 1917, his friend Thomas Ashe died in a hunger strike and it inspired him to write two laments. His ballads written around this time by him featured in the two editions of Songs of the Wren, published in 1918; two of these became Irish rebel music staples. In 1918 the St Laurence O'Toole National Club commissioned him to write the play The Frost in the Flower. His first accepted play, The Shadow of a Gunman, was performed at the Abbey Theatre in 1923. It was followed by Juno and the Paycock and The Plough and the Stars. The latter, controversial for language and subject matter, was not well received by the audience, but the play was well-attended. With income from the play, he was able to became a full-time writer. The plays he wrote after this included Within the Gates, which closed not long after opening and was a box office failure. The Star Turns Red is a four-act political allegory in which the Star of Bethlehem turns red. Purple Dust follows two wealthy, materialistic English stockbrokers who buy an ancient Irish mansion and attempt to restore it with their wrong notions of Tudor customs and taste. He also penned Red Roses for Me, which was performed at Dublin's Olympia Theatre, then moved to London. Oak Leaves and Lavender commemorates the Battle of Britain and Britain's heroism in the anti-Nazi crusade. After the Second World War he wrote Cock-a-Doodle Dandy. His late plays are studies on the common life in Ireland, like The Drums of Father Ned, which was supposed to be performed at the 1958 Dublin Theatre Festival, but the Catholic Archbishop of Dublin refused to give his blessing, demanding large changes to the play. In 1959, he allowed a musical adaptation of Juno and the Paycock by an American composer; later that year, Cock-a-Doodle Dandy was performed at the Royal Court Theatre, at the Edinburgh International Festival and at the West End. The Mermaid Theatre in London held an "O'Casey Festival" in 1962, which in turn led more theatre establishments put on his works, mostly in Britain and Germany. In his later he wrote his six-volume Autobiography.
Bio by: Pete Mohney