In conversation with readers and their Times: Myles na gCopaleen’s “Cruiskeen Lawn”
Ahearn, Catherine Ofelia
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For nearly twenty-six years, Brian O’Nolan wrote “Cruiskeen Lawn” in the Irish Times under the pseudonym Myles na gCopaleen. The column has often been regarded as a distraction for O’Nolan—one that kept him from writing more novels or plays. Yet characteristics of his work across genres and stages of his life (such as his use of pseudonyms) began in his experiments within newspapers. As a student at University College, Dublin, he wrote for the student publication Comhthrom Féinn, and later began his own satirical paper, Blather. Our study and understanding of “Cruiskeen Lawn” is fundamental to our understanding of O’Nolan as an author across literary forms, topics, and periods. The translation of “Cruiskeen Lawn” from the expanse of a newspaper page to an edition or to a dissertation is itself a form of editorial emendation. This dissertation, bound with its own set of constraints and rules, cannot fix this. Yet it will aim to consider the gains and losses of how we collect O’Nolan’s column. This dissertation has four chapters. The first relates the story of how O’Nolan came to writing through newspapers, how he came to write in the Irish Times, and how his relationship with the paper changed over time. A chronology includes the events in O’Nolan’s own life that pertain to his newspaper writing and work under the pseudonym Myles na gCopaleen. It gives readers a holistic sense of the columns by placing them in the broader context of his life and includes end notes with references to his papers. The catalogue accounts for every “Cruiskeen Lawn” article O’Nolan published and it serves as the first document that consolidates this information. The edition comprises forty “Cruiskeen Lawn” articles. Annotations focus on tracing O’Nolan’s references to other articles and papers in order to open investigative pathways toward those sources and to show how richly the column borrowed from other media.
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