Maire Nic Shiubhlaigh - Irelands First Leading Lady - Abbey Theatre 1904

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"The Generation that came of age in the times of Yeats, Arthur Griffith, Padraic Pearse", wrote Padraic Colum in the Foreword of Maire's book "The Splendid Years" and Maire herself tells us " "We were all quite unknown, young Dubliners drawn into the company partly because of an interest in theatre and partly because of an interest in Irish nationalism. Most of us came from Nationalist clubs in Dublin or were connected in some way with the Nationalist movement. Almost everyone in the Irish theatre was, during its first years".

The Splendid Years by Edward Kenny (Maire's nephew), and recently re-produced by his son Dave Kenny is a vibrant and important tale of a generation that produced a world-famous Theatre and an Insurrection.

The Dublin of the young century was "full of earnest young people all of them anxious to do something useful for Ireland" Maire recalls.

Note: (the phrases used here are courtesy of the book).

1916: "On Easter Sunday I visited some friends, the Ceannts at their home in Dolphins Barn. I stayed with the Ceannts all day, that evening at tea Eamonn seemed preoccupied with thoughts of his own. there were callers to the house and hushed conversations in the hall, as I got up to leave at about 10 o'clock I shook hands with Eamonn. He looked tired and strained - Good-bye Maire he said. I never saw him again".

Maire served with the garrison at Jacobs under Tomas McDonagh with whom she was well acquainted from the theatre clubs, as she was with Joseph Plunket, Padraic and Willie Pearse and Mrs. Pearse.

Two of Maire youngest sisters pursued their own careers on the Irish Stage, "Eileen O Doherty" (Annie) and "Betty King" (Patricia/Gypsy). It is interesting to note that on the Abbey Theatre's opening night - two members of the family were on the stage, two in the auditorium, selling programmes in the time-honoured tradition of the amateur dramatic society and another was behind the scenes stitching costumes which were worn in the play being produced.

Maire Nic Siubhlaigh was the sister- in law of Joe Stanley and her father Matthew Walker was a father in-law, colleague, and original owner of the Gaelic Press.

In 1919 when Joe took a legal case against the Crown for the closing down of the Art Depot, Maire acted as the plaintiff to keep the Joe Stanley name out of it, the defendant was a DMP detective George Love, who was not unfamiliar with the printing and publishing scene in Liffey Street and Mary Street. The plaintiff's appeal was dismissed. as being "vexatious and an abuse of the process of the Court . . ."