Joseph Holloway's Irish Theatre, Vol 3. 1938-1944, edited by Robert Hayes & Michael O'Neill, Proscenium Press, 1970.

Letter to the Irish Fri, Mar 19, 2004  from Nuala Holloway-Casey. 


Sixty years ago this week Joseph Holloway died. Who was Joseph Holloway? He was the Dublin architect invited by the English heiress Ms Annie Horniman to design our first national theatre - the original Abbey.

In every way but one Holloway was an unremarkable man, but in that one way he was astounding. For most of his 83 years he was a man completely dedicated to the arts; music, film, painting, literature and drama absorbed his every waking moment. Various literary and cultural societies benefited from his membership. He was governor of the National Gallery and for a time became deputy film censor. He played a part in founding the Academy of Christian Art.

However, it was his interest in theatre that remains today his greatest contribution. For over 50 years he was the Abbey Theatre's most consistent "first nighter" and his written account of each play reached the massive proportions of 221 manuscript volumes, totalling about 25 million words. These, together with theatre programmes, manuscripts, newspaper articles and his collection of historical material about Dublin are now housed in the Holloway Collection at the National Library, Dublin.

His sheer honesty and his direct manner in dealing with insincerity meant that he had his critics. But mostly he was seen as a courteous gentleman with a straggling moustache, bright and inquisitive blue eyes and a benevolent manner. Well-known figures such as Micheál Mac Liammóir, Cyril Cusack and T.C. Murray spoke of him as "the perfect gentleman of the old school". He encouraged young actors and helped struggling artists by purchasing their works.

His home became a contemporary museum of Irish art. He later donated most of his collection of paintings and sketches to both the Municipal and National galleries.

Today, while names like Gregory, Yeats and Russell trip easily off the tongue, he appears to be forgotten. Unlike them, he is not commemorated. Joseph Holloway lived at 21, Northumberland Road, Ballsbridge for over 60 years but there is nothing to state this fact. This year marks the 100th Anniversary of the Abbey Theatre and it is therefore an opportune time to correct this oversight by providing a plague in keeping with this elegant building. It would be a small but worthwhile gesture to pay homage to one who worked tirelessly to create our cultural heritage and to provide the scholar and lover of the theatre with the fullest and most immediate account of those turbulent and exciting years. - Yours, etc.,

NUALA HOLLOWAY-CASEY, Rowanbyrn, Blackrock, Co Dublin.


Condition. paperback encased in clear plastic sheaf, with some wear on cover. Inside book is in perfect condition.


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