The Early Years of Brian O'Nolan / Flann O'Brien / Myles Na GCopaleen(1998)
A non fiction book by Ciaran O'Nuallain
Ciaran O Nuallain's memoir of his brother Brian O'Nolan (1911-66), the only major source on the early life of the man who later achieved literary fame as Flann O'Brien and Myles na gCopaleen, appears here for the first time in English. First published in Irish as Oige an Dearthdr in 1973, it recounts a peripatetic childhood during which the family moved between Strabane, Tullamore and Dublin in consequence of their father's work as a Customs and Excise officer. The eccentric, idyllic youth of the elder O'Nolan brothers - they were not sent to school until their teens - is set against the fascinating backdrop of a vanished Ireland populated by Black and Tans, Donegal deer-poachers, chess-players and early motor-cars. There are accounts of the brothers' traumatic introduction to formal schooling in Dublin's Synge Street, of attempts at film-making, of Brian's first published sentence (a nationalist graffito) during happier days at Blackrock College, of the raucous Literary and Historical Society at University College Dublin where he made his name as a wit, and of his satirical magazine Blather. This portrait of a boy genius, his background and family, reveals hitherto unknown aspects of the many-named man who was to become one of the most important Irish writers of the century.
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