Thomas Kilroy, The Papers of
IDENTITY STATEMENT
Reference code: P103
Title: Thomas Kilroy, The Papers of
Date(s): 1955-2009
Extent: 50 boxes
Location: James Hardiman Library, NUI Galway
CONTEXT
Biographical History

Thomas Kilroy was born in 1934 in Callan, County Kilkenny, to Thomas Kilroy and May (néDevine). He attended the school of the Christian Brothers, Callan, and St.Kieran's College, Kilkenny. At University College Dublin he completed a Bachelor of Arts degree (1956), a Higher Diploma in Education (1957), and went on to a Master of Arts in English (1959), with the dissertation "Satirical Elements in the prose pamphlets of Thomas Nashe". Kilroy was auditor of the English Literature Society at UCD, and sometime-editor of The Student. The archives afford some insights into the literary and artistic debates of the time, and the aspirations of young writers (e.g. the letters from Desmond O'Grady). During the 1960s and 1970s, Thomas Kilroy was a visiting professor in a number of universities in the United States and Canada, including Notre Dame, Emory, Sir George Williams, and from 1965 to 1973 he held a lecturership at UCD, in the Department of Modern English and American Literature. In 1978, he was appointed to the chair of English in University College, Galway, which he held until 1989.

In 1968, his first play to reach the stage, 'The death and resurrection of Mr.Roche', was produced by the Dublin Theatre Festival, and with the exception of his novel The Big Chapel (1971), his literary achievements have been as a playwright, with the following plays (listing first productions): 'The O'Neill' (1969), 'Tea and sex and Shakespeare' (1976), 'Talbot's box' (1977), Chekhov's 'The seagull' (1981), 'Double cross' (1986), Ibsen's 'Ghosts' (1989), 'The Madame MacAdam Travelling Theatre' (1991), Pirandello's 'Six Characters in Search of an Author', and 'Henry' (1996 and 2005), 'The Secret Fall of Constance Wilde' (1997), 'Christ Deliver Us!' (2010), 'My Scandalous Life' (2011). These were produced by a number of theatre companies in Ireland, Europe and North America; the large majority of Irish productions were steered by The Abbey Theatre.From 1988 to 1992 Kilroy was a director on the board of The Field Day Theatre Company, founded by Brian Friel and Stephen Rea in 1980; his plays 'Double Cross' and 'The Madame McAdam Travelling Theatre' premiered with Field Day. Although focussing on theatre from its inception, Field Day has also been a publishing company since 1983, publishing essays ("pamphlets"), plays and poetry, and during Kilroy's membership they published the first three volumes of the large-scale Field Day Anthology of Irish Writing,edited by Seamus Deane (1991).Besides play-writing for the stage, Thomas Kilroy has also been writing for radio and television (including adaptations of the above plays). The 1968 radio play 'The Door', won Kilroy the BBC Northern Ireland prize for radio plays; the 2009 radio play 'In the Garden of the Asylum' was commissioned by RTÉin celebration of his 75th birthday. In manifestation of his double role as literary academic and writer, Kilroy published criticism of the Irish theatre, beginning with the seminal essay "Groundwork for an Irish Theatre" and including his edition of essays about SeáO'Casey. In an interview conducted by Vincent Woods for RTÉ[2009], Thomas Kilroy pointed to the importance of literary friendships for support at times of doubt.

The archives contain much personal correspondence with fellow writers, often offering constructive criticism on his work at draft stage, as well as drafts from playwrights and poets seeking his commentary. Thomas Kilroy is a member of the Irish Academy of Letters, the Royal Society of Literature, and Aosdá. He is the recipient of many literary awards, including the Royal Society of Literature Award (Heinemann bequest, 1972); the American Irish Foundation award (1974); the Allied Irish Banks Award for Literature (1972); the Heinemann Award for Literature; Special Tribute Award from the Irish Times/ESB Irish Theatre Awards(2004); the Irish PEN/ A.T. Cross Award (2008).Thomas Kilroy continues to write and to teach.

Immediate Source of Acquisition or Transfer

NUI Galway acquired this collection from Thomas Kilroy in December 2009, with further accessions in 2010 and 2011.

CONTENT AND STRUCTURE
Scope and Content

Literary drafts, of his finished novel and eighteen plays, including adaptations of plays beginning with Chekhov's Seagull.

Theatre production files, mostly programmes, promotional material, press reviews, few photographs.

Radio and television work, with both adaptations of his plays and original play.

Unfinished literary and media work, including novels 'Angela', 'Quirke', television plays; other projects.

Administrative records, concerning production and publication of his works, his involvement with The Abbey, and The Field Day Companies.

Private correspondence, with fellow playwrights including Tom MacIntyre, Frank McGuinness, and with fellow writers including John McGahern, Seamus Heaney, Seamus Deane.

Drama, poetry and prose by other writers.

Critical writing about Thomas Kilroy - essays and reviews.

Lecture and conference notes.

Collected printed material.

Photographs, not production-specific.

System of arrangement

The large body of the collection comprises Kilroy's literary creations - from his fiction(novels, academic writing, reviews), plays (for stage, radio and television), to other contributions for radio and television. Each chapter dealing with a specific play will typically contain research notes; progressive drafts and scripts; correspondence; files on various productions with more correspondence, promotional material, (rarely) production photographs, reviews; translations; material regarding publication of the play; (rarely)box office and royalty statements; (sometimes) academic commentary. Adaptations for radio and screen are listed as dependent on the original play. In the case of "Double Cross", it was given inception by the radio play That Man, Bracken, and they are listed in their specific genres because of their structural differences. Kilroy's creative output is followed by private, academic and business correspondence; papers from his collaboration with the Abbey Theatre; with The Field Day Theatre; material from his academic career (excluding his academic writing); awards; criticism of Kilroy's work; other collected material in print; photographs not specific to the above. While the sections dealing with specific works contain some relevant correspondence, many of the letters from fellow writers also regard Kilroy's work more generally, and need to be complemented in any serious study of his work. In a specific case, letters from Patrick Mason are more likely to be found within the specific production files, and fewer in his personal correspondence files. The material from Thomas Kilroy's time as a student at UCD contains a series of correspondence undertaken by him as auditor of the English Literature Society, including items from Graham Greene, J.B.Priestley, Denis Johnston. Much of the literary draft material - where most difficulties in arrangement reside - had been pre-arranged with a boxlist supplied by the author: this order was broadly retained. Also, useful lists of correspondents (other writers, theatre practitioners) made by Kilroy were employed to identify items not fully signed.

CONDITIONS OF ACCESS AND USE AREA
Conditions governing access

The material in this collection is available to all bona fide researchers and subject to the conditions of access governing the consultation of archival material at the James Hardiman Library. One section of the archive will remain closed until further notice. No material may be reproduced from this collection without the written permission of the Library. The most appropriate form of reference is title of item: date of item: referencenumber (P103/...), James Hardiman Archives, NUI Galway.

Finding aids
Descriptive List
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