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The Arts Council Playography Na Gaeilge


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John Bull's Other Island


  • Playwright

    George Bernard (GB) Shaw 

  • Setting

    Act I: An office in London Act II: A hillside in Roscullen, Ireland Act III: A garden in Rosscullen Act IV: A parlour in Roscullen

  • Synopsis

    Two London-based business partners, an Englishman and an Irishman, set out for the latter's hometown of Roscullen with the intention of developing some land. A satirical exposure of both Irish and English so-called national characteristics. "John Bull's Other Island was written in 1904 at the request of Mr William Butler Yeats as a patriotic contribution to the Repertory of the Irish Literary Theatre. Like most people who have asked me to write plays, Mr Yeats got rather more than he bargained for ... the play was at that time beyond the resources of the New Abbey Theatre ... There was another reason for changing the destination of John Bull's Other Island. It was uncongenial to the whole spirit of the neo-Gaelic movement, which is bent on creating a new Ireland after its own ideal, whereas my play is a very uncompromising presentment of the real old Ireland." (Preface, 1904)

  • Play Type

    Plays General

    Number Of Acts


  • Cast Size Male


  • Cast Size Female


Original Production

  • Date of First Production

    01 November 1904

  • Production Notes

    Produced under the Vedrenne-Barker management at the Royal Court.
  • Producer

  • Original Venue

  • Venue Notes

    First performed at the Royal Court Theatre, London.

  • Irish Premiere Notes

    Despite having been written at the request of W.B. Yeats, 'John Bull's Other Island' was rejected by the Abbey due to lack of resources. The Royal Court production listed here toured Ireland in 1907, with the first Irish performance of the play taking place in the Theatre Royal, Dublin. The Abbey eventually staged their own performance in 1916.

Original Cast  
Keegan Harley Granville-Barker
Hodson Nigel Playfair
Broadbent Louis Calvert
Larry Doyle J.L. Shine
Tim Haffigan Percival Stevens
Patsey Farrell Graham Browne
Father Dempsey Charles Daly
Corney Doyle F. Cremlin
Barney Doran Wilfred Shine
Matthew Haffigan A.E. George
Aunty Judy Agnes Thomas
Nora Ellen O'Malley
Production Team  
Director George Bernard (GB) Shaw
Director Harley Granville-Barker

Published Scripts

Rights Information

Source Of Information

Additional information for this entry was taken from Ben Levitas' article 'These Islands' Others: John Bull,the Abbey and the Royal Court' (2007)