Críostóir Ó Floinn (O’Flynn)

Críostóir Ó Floinn, born in Limerick in 1927, was a bilingual writer (writing in English he used the Anglicised form, as did Pádraig Mac Piarais). Ó Floinn was one of the most prolific and versatile Irish writers of the twentieth century with over sixty works published in all genres and many literary awards. He wrote many plays for radio and television, as well as working freelance in broadcasting and journalism, for eight years he wrote a weekly Irish column in the Irish Press. His poems and short stories were published in magazines in Ireland, Britain and the US, and he published translations from Irish and other languages, including a prize-winning Irish version of the three initial cantos of  Dante’s Divina Commedia.

Although some of his plays were produced at the Abbey Theatre, and he was the first playwright to be awarded an Abbey bursary, two of his best plays were rejected on moral grounds, causing him to be sacked from teaching posts, in 1962 by the Archbishop of Cashel and in 1968 by the Archbishop of Dublin, after the plays were produced elsewhere. One of these, Cóta Bán Chríost/The Order of Melchizedek, having won the Oireachtas drama award, hailed as a masterpiece by the adjudicator, Walter Macken, and also the Douglas Hyde memorial award, hailed as “a deeply religious play” by a committee chaired by Tomás (later Cardinal) Ó Fiaich, and described by the author’s London agent as the best play she had ever read, was rejected in both Irish and English versions by the Abbey directors, who described it as blasphemous, obscene. In 2021 Leabhair Comhar published his collected Irish poems under the title Éigse Saoil (Poems of a Lifetime).

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