#OTD in 1880 – Birth of playwright, Sean O’Casey, in Dublin.

“It’s my rule never to lose me temper till it would be detrimental to keep it.” –Sean O’Casey

Birth of playwright, Seán O’Casey, born John Casey or John Cassidy. A 1965 film titled Young Cassidy, starring Rod Taylor is a Biographical drama based on the early years of his life depicting his early life of Dublin poverty to the celebrated openings of his early plays.

As his interest in the Irish nationalist cause grew, O’Casey joined the Gaelic League in 1906 and learned the Irish language. At this time, he Gaelicised his name from John Casey to Seán Ó Cathasaigh. He also learned to play the Uilleann pipes and was a founder and secretary of the St. Laurence O’Toole Pipe Band. He joined the Irish Republican Brotherhood, and as a a committed socialist, became involved in the Irish Transport and General Workers Union, which had been established by Jim Larkin to represent the interests of the unskilled labourers who inhabited the Dublin tenements. He participated in the Dublin Lock-out, but was blackballed and could not find steady work for some time.

In March 1914 he became General Secretary of Larkin’s Irish Citizen Army, which would soon be run by James Connolly. On 24 July 1914 he resigned from the ICA, after his proposal to deny dual membership to both the ICA and the Irish Volunteers was rejected.

In 1917, his friend Thomas Ashe died in a hunger strike and it inspired him to write. He wrote two laments: one in verse and a longer one in prose.

O’Casey’s plays dealt primarily with the challenges of republican and poverty stricken Ireland. His works, which stand the test of time well include, The Shadow of a Gunman, Juno and the Paycock and The Plough and the Stars.

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