seamus dubhghaill

Promoting Irish Culture and History from Little Rock, Arkansas, USA


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Birth of Roddy Doyle, Novelist, Dramatist & Screenwriter

Roddy Doyle, novelist, dramatist and screenwriter known for his unvarnished depiction of the working class in Ireland, is born in Dublin on May 8, 1958. His distinctively Irish settings, style, mood, and phrasing make him a favourite fiction writer in his own country as well as overseas.

Doyle grows up in a middle-class family in Kilbarrack. His mother, Ita Bolger Doyle, is a first cousin of the short story writer Maeve Brennan. After majoring in English and geography at University College Dublin, he teaches those subjects for fourteen years at Greendale Community School, a Dublin grade school. During the summer break of his third year of teaching, he begins writing seriously. In the early 1980s he writes a heavily political satire, Your Granny’s a Hunger Striker, but it is never published.

Doyle publishes the first editions of his comedy The Commitments (1987; film 1991) through his own company, King Farouk, until a London-based publisher takes over. The work is the first installment of his internationally acclaimed The Barrytown Trilogy novels, which also include The Snapper (1990; film 1993), and The Van (1991; film 1996). The series centres on the ups and downs of the never-say-die Rabbitte family, who temper the bleakness of life in an Irish slum with familial love and understanding.

Doyle’s fourth novel, Paddy Clarke Ha Ha Ha (1993), wins the 1993 Booker Prize. Set in the 1960s in a fictional working-class area of northern Dublin, the book examines the cruelty inflicted upon children by other children. The protagonist, 10-year-old Paddy Clarke, fears his classmates’ ostracism, especially after the breakup of his parents’ marriage. In 1994 he writes the BBC miniseries Family, which generates heated controversy throughout conservative Ireland. The program sheds harsh light on a family’s struggle with domestic violence and alcoholism and portrays the bleaker side of life in a housing project, the same venue he had used in the more comedic Barrytown novels. The Woman Who Walked into Doors (1996) and its sequel, Paula Spencer (2006), concern the ramifications of domestic abuse and alcoholism.

A Star Called Henry (1999) centres on an Irish Republican Army (IRA) soldier named Henry Smart and his adventures during the Easter Rising. Smart’s further adventures are detailed in Oh, Play That Thing (2004), which follows him as he journeys through the United States, and The Dead Republic (2010), which chronicles his return to Ireland. In Smile (2017) a lonely middle-aged man looks back on his life, especially his troubled childhood. His next novel, Love (2020), follows two old friends as they spend a night drinking and looking back at their lives. The Deportees and Other Stories (2007), Bullfighting (2011), and Life Without Children (2021) are short-story collections. He also writes a number of books for children, including Wilderness (2007) and A Greyhound of a Girl (2011).

In 1987 Doyle marries Belinda Moller, granddaughter of former Irish President Erskine Childers. They have three children – Rory, Jack and Kate.

In the television series Father Ted, the character Father Dougal Maguire‘s unusual sudden use of (mild) profanities, such as saying “I wouldn’t know, Ted, you big bollocks!,” is blamed on his having “been reading those Roddy Doyle books again.”


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Birth of Maria Josephine Doyle Kennedy, Singer & Actress

maria-doyle-kennedyMaria Josephine Doyle Kennedy, singer, songwriter, and television/film actress, is born in Clontarf, Dublin, on September 25, 1964. With a singing career that has spanned nearly thirty years and an acting career that has spanned twenty five, she has established herself as one of Ireland’s most prolific artists and entertainers.

Although Doyle Kennedy exhibits a love for singing at an early age, she never considers a formal career in singing until after she graduates from Trinity College, Dublin with a joint honours degree in political science and business. She never considers becoming an actress until after she establishes herself as a singer.

Doyle Kennedy joins a band while still in college in the mid-80s, performing with Hothouse Flowers during the band’s early years. She leaves the band in order to join The Black Velvet Band with her future husband, Kieran Kennedy. The band releases their first album, When Justice Came, in 1989 which reaches number 4 on the Irish charts and is ranked among the best Irish albums of the late 1980s. Doyle Kennedy leaves the group to pursue a career in solo music and, in 2001, releases music on Mermaid Records, a label she founds herself in 2000.

After the release of her alternative folk album Mütter in 2007, Hot Press states that Doyle Kennedy “is one of the finest voices this country has ever produced.” She is subsequently nominated in the Best Irish Female category at the 2008 Meteor Awards.

Doyle Kennedy’s first experience with acting comes in 1991 when she plays Natalie Murphy in The Commitments. She continues to expand her acting platform with roles in John Boorman‘s 1998 film, The General, Alan Bleasdale‘s 1999 miniseries Oliver Twist, and the 1999 British television series Queer as Folk.

In 2007 and 2008, Doyle Kennedy receives widespread recognition for her role as Catherine of Aragon on the British historical fiction television series The Tudors. In 2011 she joins the cast of ITV‘s period drama Downton Abbey, appearing as Vera Bates, estranged wife of the Earl of Grantham’s valet, one of her most recognizable roles within the United Kingdom. In the same year, she also plays a small role as a maid in the film Albert Nobbs, alongside American actress Glenn Close.

In 2012, she plays a leading role in the ITV mini-series Titanic and also appears beside fellow Irish actress Saoirse Ronan in Neil Jordan‘s horror fantasy film Byzantium, which premiers at the 2012 Toronto International Film Festival. She appears in The Conjuring 2, the 2016 sequel to the supernatural horror film The Conjuring.