Fiach Mac Conghail launches new book on Máire Nic Shiubhlaigh

Fiach Mac Conghail launches new book on Máire Nic Shiubhlaigh

Fiach Mac Conghail to launch a landmark new publication on one of the Abbey Rebels

The Splendid Years: The Memoirs of an Abbey Actress and 1916 Rebel
Máire Nic Shiubhlaigh with Edward Kenny
Edited by David Kenny

‘That this book is a labour of love is indisputable. But it is more than that. It’s a personal chronicle of those hopeful years in which some of Ireland’s richest literary and theatrical talent emerged, men and women of flesh and bone, courageous, great and often irritating…It’s a unique slice of history, told modestly, without fanfare and with great generosity of spirit. Máire was a remarkable woman who lived in remarkable times.’
Irish Independent

Máire Nic Shiubhlaigh was an Abbey Theatre actor and its first leading lady on its opening in 1904, when she played the title role in W. B. Yeats’s Kathleen Ni Houlihan. On that night, five members of her family were acting and working in the theatre. Her beauty and talent captivated audiences and critics at home and abroad. Portrait artists queued up to paint her. Revolutionaries and poets wrote plays for her. The Pearse brothers, George Russell (AE), Countess Markiewicz, Maud Gonne, J. M. Synge and John B. Yeats are counted among her admirers.

The Splendid Years – with a foreword by Padraic Colum – is Máire’s first-hand account of some of the momentous events that shaped Irish history: including the establishment of the Abbey Theatre and her role as leader of the Cumann na mBan ‘girls’ in Jacob’s Biscuit Factory during the Rising. Withdrawn from print just weeks after its initial publication in the 1950s, the story of this remarkable and inspiring Irishwoman is available again, with new and never-before-seen material.

Here we have Pearse imitating Yeats onstage; J.M. Synge rolling cigarettes for his actors; Máire’s aged father printing the War News in 1916; her marriage to Major General Bob Price, and a lost portion of her story, detailing her childhood in Carlow before her rebellious, Parnellite family were run out of town by the clergy.

David Kenny, Editor

David Kenny is Máire Nic Shiubhlaigh’s grandnephew. He is a journalist, broadcaster, author and songwriter. He has worked in several senior editorial and journalistic roles across the Press and Independent groups, RTÉ, and the Sunday Tribune. His best-selling books include Erindipity: The Irish Miscellany, The Little Buke of Dublin, The Trib, and The Press Gang: Tales from the Glory Days of Irish Newspapers.

Date: Thursday 21 April, 5.30pm
in the Abbey Theatre Yeats Lounge

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