Sean O’Casey (1880–1964)
Explanatory Notes to Act 1
1. Jumper. A cardigan sweater.
2. Beyant Finglas. Beyond Finglas, a suburb on Dublin’s northside.
3. Diehard . A member of the IRA who rejected the treaty creating the Irish Free State in 1922.
4. Samaritan . See Luke 10: 30-36. The stranger who helped the man who had fallen among thieves; thus an exemplar of Christian charity.
5. Novena. In Roman Catholic devotions, a prayer for some special object or occasion extended over nine days.
6. Easter Week . Reference to the 1916 Rising led by Padraic Pearse and James Connolly.
7. In 1920, the fight in O’Connell St. occurred during the Irish war of independence.
8. Free State. Name of the former state of southern Ireland 1922–37, established as a result of the Anglo-Irish Treaty (1921). It was replaced by Eire in 1937 and the Republic of Ireland in 1949.
9. Snug. A small drinking area in a public-house.
10. Rathmines. A suburb on the southside of Dublin.
11. “Sweet Spirit, hear my prayer!” From the romantic opera Lurline (1860) by Irish composer William Vincent Wallace (1812-1865).
12. Affeydavey. Juno’s rendering of ‘affadavit’, a written statement confirmed by oath.
13. Juno. Roman goddess of women and childbirth, queen of the gods and of heaven. The peacock drove her chariot.
14. Deirdre of the Sorrows. In Irish myth, the beautiful Deirdre deserted King Conchubar to run off with Naoise, as prophesied, thus bringing ruin upon Ulster.
15. Killesther. A small suburb of Dublin on the northside.
16.Collier. A ship used to transport coal.
17. Forage, look out for.
18. Hod. A tray or trough with a pole handle and that is borne on the shoulder for carrying bricks, mortar or similar loads.
19. Chiselurs. Children.
20. Chassis. Chaos.
21. Trench coats were commonly worn by members of the IRA.
22. Bog of Allen . An extensive area of bog, now partially reclaimed, twenty-five miles west-southwest of Dublin.
23. The Doll’s House, Ghosts, The Wild Duck. Three tragedies by Henrik Ibsen (1828-1906), mistakenly considered by Boyle to be children’s books
24. Elizabeth, or the Exile of Siberia, a popular tale by Madame Sophil Cottin (1770-1807).
25. Virol. A malt-extract given to children as a health food.
26. Wicklow. A county and town in the Mid-East region of Ireland.
27. ‘47 from seizin’ the corn.’ The height of the Great Famine in 1847.
28. Charles Stewart Parnell (1846-1891). Irish Nationalist politician. He became President of the Home Rule Party in 1877, but his career was ruined when his affair with Katherine O’Shea was exposed in 1890.
29. Fenians. The Irish Republican Brotherhood, founded in 1858 as a radical, militarist form of nationalism.
30. Confraternity. Roman Catholic organization of lay people created for the purpose of promoting special works of Christian charity or piety, and approved by the Church hierarchy.
31. ‘How can a man die betther…’ Lines from Thomas Macaulay (1800-1859) Lays of Ancient Rome , “Horatius at the Bridge” (1842).
32. collogin’. Conspiring.
33. Ireland only half free. A reference to the Treaty of 1921 which resulted in the partition of Ireland.
34. Santry . A Dublin suburb on the northside.
35. Sorra many. Not many.
36. Charles Bentham, N.T. National-school teacher.
37. Requiescat in pace. Latin. Rest in peace.
38. Guh sayeree jeea ayera. Phonetic spelling for Gaelic prayer, i.e., “God Save Ireland”.
Notes to Act 2
39. Are you there, Mor…ee…ar…i…teee. This song became popular through the patriotic singer Gerard Crofts in the internment camps set up after the 1916 Rebellion. Moriarity is a member of the D.M.P. (Dublin Metropolitan Police).
40. bob . Five shillings.
41. ‘I met with Napper Tandy.’ A line from the ballad “The Wearing of the Green.” James Napper Tandy (1740-1803) was an Irish patriot.
42. the heart o’ the rowl. A good fellow.
43. Saggart Aroon. Gaelic. “Dear priest.” Joxer is probably referring to a variant of a patriotic poem by John Banim (1798-1842), “Soggarth Aroon”.
44. Story of Ireland (1867). A popular history by A.M. Sullivan (1830-1874), one of the founders of the Home Rule Party. Boyle confuses the author with Irish-American boxer John L. Sullivan (1858-1918).
45. Boney’s Oraculum. Napoleon’s Oraculum was a popular book in the 19th and early 20th century. See British Museum Cataloguev., 168, column 624, the Oraculum (1822) is described: “The book of fate, formerly in the possession of Napoleon…and now first rendered into English, from a German translation of an ncient Egyptian manuscript….” Described in The National Union Catalogue (V, 405, 173): “”Napoleon’s Oraculum and dream book (1884): containing the great oracle of human destiny. Also the true meaning of almost any kind of dreams….”
46. Allanna. Gaelic. “My baby.”
47. Consols. Government securities.
48. Theosophist. One who aims at the knowledge of God by means of intuition and contemplation. The Theosophical Society was founded in 1875 by Mme Helena Blavatsky.
49. Charles Chaplin (1889-1977). London-born Hollywood comic actor.
50. Thomas Edwin “Tom” Mix (1880-1940).The first major star of Hollywood westerns.
51. Nil desperandum. Never despair (Latin).
52. ‘Home to Our Mountains.’ Aria from Verdi’s Il Trovatore (1853).
53. ‘If I were a blackbird.’ A traditional Irish song about a woman jilted by a sailor.
54. Black and Tans. A force of temporary constables recruited in Britain in 1919 to fight the Irish Republican Army. Their nickname referred to the colour of their khaki uniforms. They became infamous for their attacks on civilians.
55.‘She is far from the land where her young hero sleeps.’ Song composed by Irish poet Thomas Moore (1779-1852), best-known for “The Minstrel Boy.”
56. ‘I have heard the mavis singin’ his love song to the morn.’ A popular love song (ca 1850), by Charles Jefferys (1805-1867).
57. C.I.D. Criminal Investigation Department (CID) in the Irish Free State was an armed, plain clothed counter insurgency police unit that operated during the Irish Civil War.
58.Civic Guards. Irish police force.
Notes to Act 3
59. Sorrow mend you. Good enough for you.
60. Messenger. A Roman Catholic magazine.
61. ‘Man’s inhumanity to man makes countless thousands mourn.’ From the Robert Burns poem “Man was made to mourn: A Dirge” (1784).
62. Child of Mary. A member of a Roman Catholic confraternity devoted to the Virgin Mary.
63. The blinds is down. A reference to the custom of lowering the blinds when there has been a death in the house or when a funeral procession was passing the house. See the last line of Wilfred Owen’s poem “Anthem for Doomed Youth” and in D.H. Lawrence, “The Horse Dealer’s Daughter.”
64. Flying columns. Units of mobile IRA personnel, engaged in guerrilla tactics.
65. Breathes there a man with soul so dead.’ From Sir Walter Scott “The Lay of the Last Minstrel” (1805).
66.Volunteer. Irish Volunteer Army, established in 1913 by Irish nationalists.
67. ‘Willie Reilly and his own Colleen Bawn’ A popular story of 18th century Catholic-Protestant love, Willy Reilly and His Dear Colleen Bawn by William Carleton (1855) a version of which was filmed in 1920.