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Bernard McKenna collection related to Irish theater and writers


Held at: University of Delaware Library Special Collections [Contact Us]181 South College Avenue, Newark, DE 19717-5267

This is a finding aid. It is a description of archival material held at the University of Delaware Library Special Collections. Unless otherwise noted, the materials described below are physically available in their reading room, and not digitally available through the web.

Overview and metadata sections

The Bernard McKenna collection related to Irish theater and writers comprises three series of materials related to University of Delaware professor and literary scholar Bernard McKenna's research toward the

Dictionary of Irish Literature (1996) and his own research of Irish authors and theaters spanning the dates between 1983 and 1996. The collection consists of books, playbills, letters, posters, typescripts, and other ephemera related to the represented writers and theater companies. The collection is arranged in three series: I. Research toward the Dictionary of Irish Literature; II. Writers; and III. Theaters.

Series I. consists of material from five Irish theater companies, and letters (1994-1995) from Robert Hogan, Irish literary scholar and professor emeritus of English literature at the University of Delaware. McKenna, an associate editor of the

Dictionary of Irish Literature, collected the materials in the course of his own study of Irish theater and in the process of preparing entries for the Dictionary of Irish Literature. Hogan's letters to McKenna, written in his capacity as editor-in-chief of the Dictionary, pertain to McKenna's contributions to the Dictionary. Also included in this series are playbills and other material McKenna received from five Irish theater companies: Charabanc Theatre Company of Belfast, The Lyric Theatre of Belfast, Field Day Theatre Company of Derry, The National Theatre Society Limited (Abbey and Peacock Theatres) of Dublin, and The Passion Machine of Dublin. From 1994 to 1995, McKenna conducted research on Irish theater productions since October 1968. October 5, 1968, was the date of a violent protest march by Catholics in Derry, Northern Ireland. It is generally considered to mark the start of "the Troubles" in Northern Ireland.

Series II. consists of items related to various Irish authors, several of whom McKenna contacted for inclusion in the

Dictionary of Irish Literature. Represented in this series are items related to the individual author's work, including photocopied typescripts, reviews, and correspondence with McKenna. This series represents an addition to the original collection.

Series III. includes material representing Irish theaters and includes items from the Red Kettle Theatre Company and the Druid Theatre Company. This series represents an addition to the original collection.

Several inscribed books included the collection have been removed for cataloguing with imprints in Special Collections.

Boxes 1-3: Shelved in SPEC MSS manuscript boxes

Removals: Shelved in SPEC MSS oversize boxes (24 inches)

Gift of Bernard McKenna, 2000, 2007

Processed by Kevin Burke, December 2001 and Maureen Cech, May 2007. Encoded by Jaime Margalotti, July 2021.

The following were removed and cataloged with imprints in Special Collections. They can be accessed by searching the library catalog.

Simmons, James.

Elegies (1995) and Mainstream (1995)

Galvin, Patrick, ed.

Dun Laoghaire Rathdown County Anthology (1996)

University of Delaware Library Special Collections
Finding Aid Author
University of Delaware Library, Special Collections
Finding Aid Date
2021 July 22
Access Restrictions

The collection is open for research.

Use Restrictions

Use of materials from this collection beyond the exceptions provided for in the Fair Use and Educational Use clauses of the U.S. Copyright Law may violate federal law. Permission to publish or reproduce is required from the copyright holder. Please contact Special Collections Department, University of Delaware Library,

Collection Inventory

Charabanc Theatre Company, 1983-1993.
Box 1 Folder F1
Scope and Contents

Founded in 1983 by five Belfast actresses, Charabanc's focus is on new Irish plays. Included in the collection are a selection of programs from Charabanc productions between 1984 and 1992, correspondence between McKenna and Charabanc, and brochures, publicity, and touring history

The Lyric Theatre, undated.
Box 1 Folder F2
Scope and Contents

Established in Belfast, Northern Ireland, in 1968, The Lyric specializes in repertory productions. Included in the collection are programs from the twenty-fifth anniversary season (1993 – 1994), correspondence, a list of productions (1983-1995), and commemorative postcards from the twenty-fifth anniversary season

Field Day Theatre Company, undated.
Box 1 Folder F3
Scope and Contents

Founded in Derry in 1980 by Brian Friel and Stephen Rea, Field Day produces plays by Irish and other contemporary playwrights. The collection contains programs from a number of productions (1983-1995), including the 1990 world premiere of Seamus Heaney's

The Cure at Troy; correspondence; a list of company activities; and a review of the company's production of Chekhov's Uncle Vanya from the Dublin Sunday Independent (March 1995)
The National Theatre Society Limited, Abbey Theatre and the Peacock Theatre, 1983-1996.
Box 1 Folder F4
Scope and Contents

Includes list of productions at the Abbey Theatre between December 1993 and December 1994

The Passion Machine, undated.
Box 1 Folder F5
Scope and Contents

This Dublin theater, founded 1984, produces original Irish plays. The collection contains the program from the 1994 production of Paul Mercier's

Home. Included in the program are pictures and information on plays produced between 1984 and 1994
Robert Hogan letters to Bernard McKenna, 1994-1995.
Box 1 Folder F6
Scope and Contents

Correspondence with Bernard McKenna during 1994-1995 largely concerned McKenna's contributions to the "revised and expanded" 1996 edition of the

Dictionary, most of which were biographical entries for Irish authors Physical Description

25 items

Tea and Sex and Shakespeare, undated.
Box 2 Folder F7
Physical Description

Typescript copy of play, 134 pages

The O'Neill, undated.
Box 2 Folder F8
Physical Description

Typescript copy of play, 149 pages

Ghosts, undated.
Box 2 Folder F9
Physical Description

Typescript copy of play, 244 pages

Margaretta D'Arcy, 1995-1996.
Box 3 Folder F10
Scope and Contents

Four autograph letters

Physical Description

4 items

James Simmons, 1983-1996.
Box 3 Folder F11
Scope and Contents

Autograph letter, photocopied article and reviews, flyer and poster for 1991 and 1994 Poetry Conference hosted by Simmons, cassette tape,

Women's Company (Original Songs, Settings & Standards), Active Studios, 1995. Also included are two books: Elegies (1995) and Mainstream (1995), both signed by Simmons
Patrick Galvin, 1994-1996.
Box 3 Folder F12
Scope and Contents

Six typescript autographed letters with various enclosed materials, 1994-1996. Also included is a signed copy of

Dun Laoghaire Rathdown County Anthology (1996) edited by Galvin inscribed to Bernard McKenna Physical Description

6 items

Christina Reid, [1995].
Box 3 Folder F13
Scope and Contents

Letters and autograph note on a copy of Reid's curriculum vitae. Items relate to a production of Reid's

My Name, Shall I Tell You My Name? Related collection: MSS 0099, F0747 Physical Description

4 items

Red Kettle Theatre Company, undated.
Box 3 Folder F14
Scope and Contents

Materials consist of a playbill for

The Guernica Hotel by Jim Nolan, which includes list of the Company's productions from 1985-1993. Includes inlaid letter to Bernard McKenna from the general manager of the Red Kettle. Physical Description

2 items

Druid Theatre Company, undated.
Box 3 Folder F15
Scope and Contents

Founded in 1975 in Galway, this independent theater produces original interpretations of Irish and Continental plays. Items related to the Druid include articles, playbills, materials related to the history of the theater, and two posters. Removed to Oversize.

Print, Suggest