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Teresa Deevy

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Name  Teresa Deevy

Role  Dramatist
Teresa Deevy graphics8nytimescomimages20100808artsDEEVY
Died  1963, Waterford, Republic of Ireland

Light falling by teresa deevy

Teresa Deevy (21 January 1894 – 19 January 1963) was a deaf Irish dramatist, short story writer, and writer for radio.



Deevy was born in Passage Road, Waterford city, Ireland, in the family home named 'Landscape'. She was the youngest of thirteen children. Her father, Edward Deevy, was a farmer and then a draper, who died when Deevy was two years old. She was then reared by her mother and seven sisters.

Deevy attended the Ursuline Convent in Waterford and in 1913, aged 19, she enrolled in University College Dublin, to become a teacher. However, that same year, Deevy became deaf through Ménière's disease and had to relocate to University College Cork so she could receive treatment in the Cork Ear, Eye, and Throat Hospital, while also being closer to the family home. In 1914 she went to London to learn lip-reading and returned to Ireland in 1919. She started writing plays and contributing articles and stories to the press around 1919.

At the Abbey Theatre

In 1930 Deevy had her first production at the Abbey Theatre, Reapers. Many more followed in rapid succession, such as In Search of Valour, Temporal Powers, The King of Spain's Daughter and Katie Roche, the play she is perhaps best known for. These works came just after writers such as W. B. Yeats and Lady Gregory and many believed she would be among those who would take up the mantle as part of a new generation of Irish playwrights for a theatre whose reputation had always rested on its writers. Her works were generally very well-received with some of them winning competitions, becoming headline performances, or being revived numerous times. Her plays were often quietly subversive, many being written just before or during the birth of the Republic of Ireland in 1937. Deevy had joined up as a member of the Cumann na mBan, an Irish women's Republican group and auxiliary to the Irish Volunteers, in 1919, and her Republican, and even proto-feminist views can be clearly seen in plays such as Katie Roche and The King of Spain's Daughter. These are plays where options for women are severely limited in society, where women are trapped by domestic life, or must choose between a loveless marriage or a life of drudgery in a factory. Deevy was often critical of the intensely Catholic society she lived in for its oppressive and repressive views on women. She was critical also of the Irish theatre scene and especially of literary censorship, questioning the roles, rights, and power of the censor, and also how to remove them. After a number of plays staged in the Abbey, her relationship with the theatre soured over the rejection of her play, Wife to James Whelan in 1937. She submitted another play, Holiday House in 1939 which was accepted but never staged, and any attempt by Deevy to find out why was met, in her words, “with evasive replies.”

Work on radio

After Deevy stopped writing plays for the Abbey, she mainly concentrated on radio, a remarkable feat considering she had already become deaf before radio had become a popular medium in Ireland in the mid-to-late 1920s. Deevy had a prolific output for twenty years on Raidio Éireann and on the BBC. including adaptations of previous works such as Temporal Powers and Katie Roche and also an adaptation of Anton Chekhov's Polinka. Two of her plays were eventually broadcast on television by the BBC while they have also enjoyed several stage-revivals since her death, most recently by the Mint Theater Company in New York.

Later life and death

Deevy was elected to the Irish Academy of Letters in 1954. Her sister, Nell, with whom she had lived in Dublin, died in the same year, so Deevy returned to Waterford. She became a familiar figure in Waterford city as she cycled around the city on her "High Nelly" bike. When her health began to fail she was eventually admitted to the Maypark Nursing Home in Waterford city and died there in 1963, aged 68, two days before her birthday.

Stage Plays by Teresa Deevy

  • The Reapers (lost play) (1930)
  • A Disciple/ In Search of Valour (1931)
  • Temporal Powers (1932)
  • The King of Spain's Daughter (1935)
  • Katie Roche (1936)
  • The Wild Goose (1936)
  • Wife to James Whelan (1937)
  • Strange Birth (1946)
  • Light Falling (1947)
  • Within a Marble City (1948)
  • Eyes and No Eyes
  • The Finding of the Ball
  • In the Cellar of My Friend
  • MacConglinne
  • A Minute's Wait
  • 3 Plays written under the alias D.V. Goode, Practice and Precept, Let Us Live, and The Firstborn
  • At least 3 unfinished, untitled plays
  • Radio Plays by Teresa Deevy

  • Wife to James Whelan (radio adaptation of Deevy's stage play)
  • Polinka (radio play adaptation of Chekhov's Polinka) (1946)
  • Dignity (radio play) (1947)
  • Light Falling (radio adaptation of Deevy's stage play)
  • Within a Marble City (radio adaptation of Deevy's stage play)
  • Holiday House
  • Going Beyond Alma's Glory (radio play) (1949)
  • Concerning Meagher, or How Did He Die?
  • In the Cellar of My Friend (radio adaptation of Deevy's stage play)
  • Supreme Dominion (1957)
  • One Look- and What it Led to
  • Possession-Cattle of the Gods (ballet treatment/ libretto)
  • Short stories

  • Strange People (1946)
  • Just Yesterday: A Story
  • The Greatest Wonder in the World: A Christmas Story
  • Alen
  • Brian of the Boers
  • Lisheen at the Valley Farm
  • John Potter's Story
  • Flash Back
  • Adventure
  • Essays

  • Patricia Lynch: A Study (1948)
  • Man Proposes
  • References

    Teresa Deevy Wikipedia