ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

St. Patrick's Day - Famous Irish Folk

Updated on August 19, 2015
RedElf profile image

RedElf (Elle Fredine), published author, musician, life-long fan of Disney, Pixar, classic cartoons, and great entertainment of any kind

What is it about the Irish, especially on Saint Patrick's Day, that makes the rest of us want to be Irish? Well, for one thing, there are no snakes in Ireland, according to legend, as St. Patrick drove them all out some few centuries ago - although, according to some, he missed a few of the two-legged ones.

There is certainly no lack of famous Irish fellers we'd like to emulate, or, at least, applaud, and that "darlin' accent" is much imitated - usually badly, and sometimes drunkenly, especially on March 17th of any given year. Some of my favorite actors are Irish - Liam Neeson, Sean Bean, Collin Farrel, Pierce Brosnan, and Richard Harris, to name but a few. Some of my favorite musicians are Irish as well, and a very few are featured here. Perhaps an examination of a few of Ireland's famous folk will shed some light on this.

George Bernard Shaw - photo credit:
George Bernard Shaw - photo credit:

George Bernard Shaw

George Bernard Shaw (1856-1950), dramatist, literary critic, socialist spokesman. Shaw was a freethinker, a supporter of women's rights and a fierce advocate for equal income. When, in 1925 he was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature, Shaw accepted the honor but turned down the cash award.

Born on July 26, 1856, in Dublin, the son of George Carr Shaw and Lucinda Elisabeth Shaw, his father's drunkenness led young George to become a life-long teetotaler. In 1876 he moved to London to join his sister and mother, not returning to Ireland for nearly thirty years.

Shaw began his literary career as a music and theater critic, and and tried his hand at writing novels, including the semi-autobiographical "Immaturity". He was not terribly successful to start. In 1895 Shaw became a drama critic for the Saturday Review, and began to make a name for himself.

His articles were later collected in "Our Theaters In The Nineties", published in 1932. He also wrote as a music, art, and drama critic for the Dramatic Review.

In 1898 Shaw married Charlotte Payne-Townshend, yet carried on a passionate correspondence over many years with Mrs. Patrick Campbell (widowed), an actress. His play, "Pygmalion", perhaps the best known of all his plays, was originally written for her. It was later turned into two films and a musical, "My Fair Lady".

His later plays against the war caused a drop in his popularity, but the well-received, "Saint Joan", in 1942, returned him to favor with the public. Saint Joan has been a film vehicle for a number of twentieth century actresses including Ingrid Bergman.

One of my favorite Shavian anecdotes involved Shaw's great friend, Winston Churchill, and the opening night of Shaw's new play. Shaw had sent a cable to Churchill, offering to set aside two tickets for him, and encouraging him to, "bring a friend, if you have one."

Churchill cabled back that affairs of state prevented his presence there, but added, pithily, "Will attend second night. If you have one."

William Butler Yeats - photo credit:
William Butler Yeats - photo credit:

William Butler Yeats

William Butler Yeats (1865 – 1939), Irish poet, and playwright. In his later years Yeats served in the Irish Senate for two terms. Yeats is attributed with being a strong force behind a renewed interest in the Irish heritage - language (Gaelic), Irish folk tales, and traditional music. With Lady Gregory and Edward Martyn he founded the Abbey Theatre.

In 1923, he won the Nobel Prize for Literature for what was described by the Nobel Committee as "inspired poetry, which in a highly artistic form gives expression to the spirit of a whole nation." He was the first Irishman ever to be honored, preceding Shaw by two years. Yeats is one of the few writers who produced what are widely acknowledged as his greatest works were after being awarded the prize - "The Tower", published in 1928, and "The Winding Stair and Other Poems", published in 1929.

According to Wikipedia:

Yeats concentrated on an identifiably Irish content and this inclination was reinforced by his involvement with a new generation of younger and emerging Irish authors. Together with Lady Gregory, Martyn, and other writers including J. M. Synge, Sean O'Casey, and Padraic Colum, Yeats was one of those responsible for the establishment of the "Irish Literary Revival" movement. Apart from these creative writers, much of the impetus for the Revival came from the work of scholarly translators who were aiding in the discovery of both the ancient sagas and Ossianic poetry and the more recent folk song tradition.

I had the pleasure of working on two of his one-act plays, "In the Shadow of the Glen", and "Kathleen ni Houlihan" ("ni" meaning "born"). They are fiercely moody pieces. The first is a three-hander (requiring three actors) in which a woman is driven into the arms of a stranger by her miserly and deceitful husband.

"Kathleen ni Houlihan" is, on the surface, an anti-war piece in which an old woman, the spirit of Ireland, transforms into a beautiful, alluring woman. Her stirring paean to glories of fighting for "home and country" lure the young man of the house to enlist in a foreign war against the British.

I was lucky enough to have some wonderfully talented Irish actors among the cast, and they were able to keep the rest of the cast "on the far side of the Atlantic" with their accents, and not meandering into the dreadful "stage Irish" one hears so often.

The Little People

Aaaah, the little people...

Known as leprechauns, said to live under the hills, reported to have amassed great wealth in the form of "pots o' gold", and known to create great mischief when the spirit moves them, "the little people" of Ireland's folk tales have not come off so well in their treatment by Hollywood.

Treated as evil beings, buffoons, and magic-wielding, rainbow-riding tricksters with really bad Irish accents in a staggering number of movies by Disney and other misguided production houses, the little folk have not fared well on network television, either.

They may be seen on the small screen huckstering for a pre-sweetened "lucky" cereal that claims to be "magically delicious", selling a "spring"-scented soap, and promoting "lite" beer, diet soft drinks, and Australian KENO.

"But leprechauns are cute! We mean them no disrespect," you say. Well, bear in mind that you are abusing one of Ireland's national treasures when you use the Little People thus.

These proud denizens of the magical realm have graced the folk and fairy tales of Erin from time immemorial. Take care you do not draw their ire, lest they smite you with a plague of boils, or turn your milk sour in the icebox.

Other famous Irish folk...

Some other famous Irish folk featured here are musicians  - I hope you have enjoyed their music. Sinead O'Connor, Enya, and U2, have provided some great musical moments, showing the world what an amazing bunch the Irish are, and what talented folk have sprung from the sometimes troubled, but always amazing and bewitching Emerald Isles.

© 2010 RedElf


This website uses cookies

As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

Show Details
HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)
ClickscoThis is a data management platform studying reader behavior (Privacy Policy)