Anthony Roche
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The stuff of tragedy?
Representations of Irish political leaders in the ‘Haughey’ plays of Carr, Barry and Breen
in Irish literature since 1990

Plays which deal directly with political life are rare in the Irish canon. In 2003, the year following Sebastian Barry's Hinterland and Marina Carr's Ariel, the dramatisation of the life and career of the former Taoiseach was taken a stage further by playwright John Breen in Charlie. As the play's title indicates, there is no longer a fictional veneer or melange of identities in the representation of the title character. All three plays depend on a degree of knowledge of events from the last forty years of Irish political life which is virtually unprecedented in the canon. Charles J. Haughey's style of leadership encouraged either unquestioning loyalty or determined opposition, not just in the country as a whole but more critically within the Fianna Fáil party itself. Fermoy Fitzgerald and Michael D. Higgins identified themselves as visionaries and engaged in an attack on the 'gombeen man' mentality in Irish politics.

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