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Donagh Macdonagh Biography

(1912–68), Twenty Poems, Murder in the Cathedral, Happy as Larry

Literature Reference: American Literature, English Literature, Classics & Modern FictionEncyclopedia of Literature: Earl Lovelace Biography to Madmen and Specialists

Irish poet and playwright, born in Dublin, the son of Thomas MacDonagh, educated at University College, Dublin. He was a barrister from 1935 to 1941, when he became a District Justice in Wexford and Dublin. As a student he published Twenty Poems (with Niall Sheridan, 1934) and mounted the first Irish production of T. S. Eliot's Murder in the Cathedral. His own plays are either verse-dramas or ballad-operas, for which he provided new lyrics to traditional tunes. His greatest success was Happy as Larry (1946), which was produced in London and New York. Among his other plays, most of which remain unpublished, are the comedy Step-in-the-Hollow, God's Gentry, the best of his ballad-operas, and numerous works for radio. His accomplishment as a versifier is evident in Veterans and Other Poems (1941), The Hungry Grass (1947), and A Warning to Conquerors (1968), his principal collections of poetry, which reflect his deep interest in Gaelic culture in their many translations of early Irish lyrics. With Lennox Robinson, MacDonagh edited The Oxford Book of Irish Verse, published in 1958.

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