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Edward Martyn Biography

(1859–1924), The Heather Field, Maeve, The Dream Physician, Hail and Farewell

irish theatre dublin moore

Irish playwright, born in Co. Galway, educated in Dublin and at Christ Church College, Oxford. His family were wealthy Catholics who had gained exemption from the Penal Laws in 1709. After his return to Ireland, he took an active interest in music and in the revival of the Irish language. He founded the Palestrina Choir in Dublin's Pro-Cathedral, and helped to establish the Feis Cheoil, an annual festival of traditional Irish music. In 1898, with W. B. Yeats, George Moore, and Lady Gregory, Martyn founded the Irish Literary Theatre which was to become the Abbey Theatre. His own peasant dramas, including The Heather Field (1898) and Maeve (1899), were among the first plays to be produced by the new theatre company. The Dream Physician (1914) is Martyn's attempt at revenge upon his ‘friend’ George Moore who had mocked him as ‘dead Edward’ in Hail and Farewell (191114). In 1914 Martyn withdrew from the Abbey and set up the short-lived Irish Theatre with Joseph Plunkett and Thomas MacDonagh.

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