Born in Strabane, Co Tyrone, Brian O’Nolan is regarded as a key figure in postmodern literature. He was an Irish novelist and satirist, best known for his novels ‘An Béal Bocht’, ‘At Swim-Two-Birds’ and ‘The Third Policeman’ written under the nom de plume Flann O’Brien. He also wrote many satirical columns in the Irish Times under the name Myles na gCopaleen.
O’Nolan’s novels have attracted a wide following for their bizarre humour and modernist metafiction. As a novelist, O’Nolan was influenced by James Joyce. He was nonetheless sceptical of the cult of Joyce which overshadows much of Irish writing, saying “I declare to God if I hear that name Joyce one more time I will surely froth at the gob.”
In 2012, on the 101st anniversary of his birth, O’Nolan was honoured with a commemorative Google Doodle (a special, temporary alteration of the logo on Google’s homepage that is intended to celebrate holidays, events, achievements and people).
Eamonn Morrissey recites Brian O’Nolan’s A Pint of Plain:
Photo: John Ryan, Anthony Cronin, Brian O’Nolan (Flann O’Brien), Patrick Kavanagh and Tom Joyce on Sandymount Strand in 1954