Tag Archives: Flann O’Brien


(meme source)


Staying in tonight?

Bones of Contention.

A radio docu drama about Brian O’Nolan/Flann O’Brien/Myles na gCopaleen, in the style of Bob Dylan biopic I’m Not There.

Says writer director Marc-Ivan O’Gorman:

Brian O’Nolan once said that “the modern novel should be largely a work of reference”, and in Bones of Contention we honour that philosophy by not only bringing his nom-de-plumes to life and allowing them dictate the story (like his characters in At-Swim-Two-Birds), and inserting a couple of his literary creations, such as Pooka McPhelimy, his wife Miss Corrigan and an anthropomorphic bicycle, but we have, wherever possible, inserted snippets of his writings from across his novels and newspaper columns.

As Flann might have said, for it is in his own words a man best speaks for himself.

Bones Of Contention – the search for Brian O’Nolan, the Lyric Feature, tonight 7pm RTÉ lyric fm

Myles Ahead – the many faces of Flann O’Brien (Marc-Ivan O’Gorman, RTÉ)

Thanks Spaghetti Hoop


Brian O’Nolan/Flann O’Brien/Myles na gCopaleen

Flann O’Brien is dead fifty years ago today.

Where’s his blummin’ monument?

Ireland loves, or pretends to love, its literary heroes, so much so that we put quotations from Ulysses on little brass plaques and nail them to the pavements for tourists and Dubliners alike to tread on, give to a gunboat the name of that most peace-loving Irishman, Samuel Beckett, while Oscar Wilde is represented by a hideous statue indecently asprawl on a rock behind railings opposite his birthplace.

What the reaction would be of Flann O’Brien, Myles na Gopaleen, Cruiskeen Lawn (Irish for “the full glass”) or Brian O’Nolan – his real name, more or less – to the gushing lip-service we pay these days to our dead writers (he died 50 years ago on 1 April) can be easily guessed: a sardonic shrug, and a turning back to the bar to order another ball of malt.

Writer John Banville

My Hero By John Banville (Guardian)

Pic via Peter Reid



Extract from The Third Policeman


The same small island that gave the world Sean Kelly, Stephen Roche and the Dunlop pneumatic tyre*, also gave us Flann O’Brien, the Patron Saint of Bicycles

Flann O’Brien and a wheel revolution (MelHealy)



A Dalkey archive.

Stephen Devine writes:

A picture I created by merging a photo of Sorrento Terrace [Dalkey, county Dublin] from 1910 and one from yesterday.

Brian Sammon writes:

The incomparable Flann O’Brien/Myles na gCopaleen/Brian O’Nolan. gets the Google doodle treatment [only on Google.ie] on his birthday today, October 5 [he would have been 101]. How about a sample of the man’s genius?


A sample you, say?

Cruiskeen Lawn
January 11th, 1941

A LADY lecturing recently on the Irish language drew attention to the fact (I mentioned it myself as long ago as 1925) that, while the average English speaker gets along with a mere 400 words, the Irish-speaking peasant uses 4,000.

Considering what most English speakers can achieve with their tiny fund of noises, it is a nice speculation to what extremity one would be reduced if one were locked up for a day with an Irish-speaking bore
and bereft of all means of committing murder or suicide.

My point, however, is this. The 400/4,000 ration is fallacious; 400/400,000 would be more like it. There is scarcely a single word in the Irish (barring, possibly, Sasanach) that is simple and explicit.

Apart from words with endless shades of cognate meaning, there are many with so complete a spectrum of graduated ambiguity that each of them can be made to express two directly contrary meanings, as well as a plethora of intermediate concepts that have no bearing on either.

And all this strictly within the linguistic field. Superimpose on all that the miasma of ironic usage, poetic licence, oxymoron, plamás, Celtic invasion, Irish bullery and Paddy Whackery, and it is a safe bet that you will find yourself very far from home.

Flann O’Brien’s books (Amazon)

Brian O’Nolan (Wikipedia)