John MacDonagh

?-1961, b. Cloughjordan, Co. Tipperary; br. of Thomas MacDonagh (executed 1916), with another brother in Jacob’s Biscuit Factory during the 1916 Rising; interned in England for several months; appointed producer of Irish Theatre, 1914, owing to his experience as producer and actor in English and American theatre; issued Author! Author! (1915), a comedy; Just Like Shaw (1919), a satire, and Weeds (1919), a three-act drama;
left Irish Theatre in 1919 to work with Film Company of Ireland and later with Irish Photoplays; dir. Willie Reilly and His Colleen Bawn, Cruiskeen Lawn; The O’Casey Millions, and Wicklow Gold; his four-act play The Irish Jew was performed at the Empire Theatre (13 Dec. 1931), and frequently revived; its central character is Abraham Golden, Lord Mayor of Dublin, who prevents a swindle by Corporation members;
revues include Dublin Tonight (1924), All Aboard for Dublin (1931), and Dublin on Parade (1932); worked as productions director for Radio Éireann, 1938-47 and creator the popular quiz game ‘‘Question Time’’; wrote Attempted Murder, a satirical play in which the victim is the Stage Irishman; spoke on the Irish Theatre and Edward Martyn for a radio adaption of Martyn’s The Heather Field; d. 1 July 1961, in Dublin. DIL


WorksDrama, Just Like Shaw: A Play in One Act, in Dublin Magazine, I (Sept. 1923), pp.141-48; Author! Author! in Dublin Magazine, I (Feb. 1924), pp.621-28. Commentary, ‘Enterprise at the Irish Theatre’, in New Ireland, III (10 March. 1917), pp.293-95; ‘Edward Martyn’, in Dublin Magazine, I (Jan. 1924), pp.465-67; ‘Film Production in Ireland in the Early Days’, in Cinema Ireland 1895-1976 [pamphlet] (Dublin: Dublin Arts Festival 1976), 42pp.


Ernest Boyd, ‘The Work of the Irish Theatre’, in Irish Monthly, XLVIII (Feb. 1919), pp.71-76.

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Kevin Rockett, et al., eds, Cinema & Ireland (1988), remarks on John MacDonagh,, brother of Thomas MacDonagh, and premier FCOI director, 23-7; 29, 30, 34, 40-2, 44[n]; also Cruiskeen Lawn (1922), 41 [dir. MacDonagh; concerns a race-horse].

Anthony Slide, The Cinema in Ireland (1988), p.14, MacDonough [sic] first became involved in cinema by writing a scenario for the 1910 American Biograph production, The Fugitive, while living in the States; around the time he completed his Willy Reilly &, [he] made a film promoting the Irish Repubican Loan, in front of Pearse’s St Enda’s School - where portions of Willy Reilly were shot - amd utilised a table associated with Robert Emmett [sic] during his courtship with Sarah Curran. ‘In those dangerous and exciting times, no cinema owner would dare risk exhibiting the Republican Loans film so it was planned for a few volunteers in fast cars to visit certain cinemas, rush the operator’s box, and, at gun-point, force the operator to take off the film he was showing, and put on the Loan film.’ (Quoted from John McDonaghs’ [sic] reminiscences, printed in Cinema Ireland 1895-1976, Dublin Arts Festival 1976, p.11).

Programme of Walter Reade Theatre (1994) lists Willy Reilly and His Colleen Bawn, dir. MacDonagh (1920), 90 mins, based on trad. ballad of 18th c. Catholic gentleman (Brian Magowan) who falls in love with the dg. of a Protestant squire (Frances Alexander); the Catholic-hating lord (Jim Plant) who covets Helen makes a homeless and hunted man of Willy, with the help of Red Rapparee (Barret MacDonnell); this handsome film (newly restored British Film Inst.) features passionate heroine, whether pledging her love across a crowded ballroom or sunk in melancholy during exile; show with The Lad from Old Ireland, dir. Sidney Olcott, 1910; 10 mins.

Edward Martyn paid for John MacDonagh’s salary at the Irish Theatre, as recounted by his sister Geraldine Dillon in Dublin Magazine (Spring 1966). [See Joseph Plunkett, q.v.]

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