It’s an odd thing but Myles na gCopaleen (Flann O’Brien) the great comic genius passed away on April 1st, 1966. I’m sure that if he had a choice as to which day of the year to ‘leave the stage’ then April’s Fool Day would be just about perfect. Ah, what timing!
The Palace Bar
This year was the third annual celebration of his passing, and appropriately enough for such literary royalty, it was held in The Palace Bar, Fleet Street, Dublin. The place was packed long before proceedings were due to begin, and the buzz of excitement was palpable. Many pints (‘A pint of plain is your only man!’) were drunk in a pub that the great man was familiar with, and much laughter and lively repartee filled the air. It was a great success with over twenty acts partaking in reading and performing works by Myles, some of which were truly hilarious. For those familiar with the works it was great fun, and for Myles’s virgins food for thought and ‘someone to find out about’.
Flann the Man & Joycer
I had the pleasure of meeting and taking a photograph of Myles and James Joyce, honestly, and they are both looking well – must have something to do with the consumption of Guinness and all the little molecules in it! Check out more about the event at the official website: MylesDay
Slainte – ’til next year!
Anne & ‘Flann’
It’s not often that you can get a chance to meet one of your heroes, but Val O’Donnell’s one-man show about the life and times of Flann O’Brien was pretty close. His performance in the United Arts Club was informative, lively and throughly entertaining. The setting, in a large upstairs room, had the feeling of an evening in a friendly parlour, would definitely have met with the great man’s approval. And as it happened, his sister-in-law Anne O’Nuallain was in attendance, lending an air of authenticity and continuation to proceedings. After his introduction ‘Flann’ entered the room with a bicycle pump (think The Third Policeman!), a few books under his arm…and, of course, a pint of Guinness. As theatrical props go it has to be the best ever – slainte. Dressed in a black, three-piece suit and the obligatory black hat, ‘Flann’ looked the part and gave a wonderful performance that had the audience grinning and laughing out loud at some of the stories. We heard about O’Brien’s early life, college days and work in the Department of Local Government from where he was forced to leave in 1953.
‘Flann’ & Bicycle Pump!
This was due to his barely veiled observation of his boss who demanded his early dismissal. He had published his first book, At Swim-Two-Birds, in 1939 to great critical acclaim. It was praised by the great British writer, Graham Greene, who recommended it to hs publishers, Longmans. James Joyce, Samuel Beckett and Dylan Thomas, among others, thought highly of it, but sadly, it never made the mainstream breakthrough that his writing has since done. ‘Flann’ recited pieces from various books, The Dalkey Archive, The Hard Life, his Irish Times column An Cruiskeen Lawnand other satirical work. They were challenging at the time of their writing (part of the reason why they never received the acclaim they deserved) and still have a resonance today. Altogether it was a tour-de-force and left me (and others, no doubt) wondering where my Flann O’Brien books were and that I should really dip into them again. Just before he finished ‘Flann’ recited with perfect rhythm and feeling what is probably O’Brien’s most famous piece The Workman’s Friend, otherwise known as A Pint Of Plain Is Yer Only Man, and if you closed your eyes for a moment you could almost feel that the great man was in the room. A special night – I’ll drink to that.
‘Flann’ & Don