Death of Donagh MacDonagh

Originally posted to Facebook on Dec 31,2017:

Today is the 50th anniversary of the death of Donagh MacDonagh. He was a noted poet, playwright, folklorist, radio presenter. In between times he was a district justice. He was the son of Thomas and Muriel MacDonagh. He was three when his father was executed following the Easter Rising and a year later his mother drowned off Skerries. He and his sister Bairbre were initially taken care of by their aunts Kate Gifford Wilson and Grace Gifford Plunkett, their mother’s sisters but there was a law suit and custody was granted to the other side of the family. He result was a very unhappy childhood for both. Don’s first writing was done as a ghost writer for his aunt and he really never stopped. In all he wrote four plays and an opera. He also produced three books of poetry and shared a fourth with Niall Sheridan. Details can be found on Wikipedia. He was married twice, first to Maura Smyth who drowned following an epileptic seizure and later to Maura’s sister Nuala. He had four children, Breifne and Iseult with Maura and Barbara and myself with Nuala. Since his death interest in his work has fallen off. Today he is mostly known for his poem Dublin Made me and The Ballad of Larkin and Connolly. I have had most of his work digitized and over the next few weeks will post links to much of it.


  1. Karl O'Hanlon

    Hello Niall,

    Fascinating to read about your father; I’ve been picking up bits and pieces and interested to read more as you upload. Do you know if any letters from Denis Devlin survived? The odd one seems to have turned up in auctions.

    I should like to chat to you about Donagh’s writing, and his work as a justice, some time.

    Best wishes,

    Karl O’Hanlon

  2. Gabriel Scally

    Thank you very much for the website. It is important to have this material not just preserved but publicly available.


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