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Creator / Flann O'Brien

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Brian Ó Nualláin/Brian O'Nolan (5 October 1911 – 1 April 1966) was an Irish civil servant, novelist, columnist and satirist, and one of the giants of twentieth-century Irish modernism. He was best known under his many pseudonyms, notably Myles na gCopaleen for his satirical newspaper column An Cruiskeen Lawn and his Irish-language novel, An Béal Bocht ("The Poor Mouth"), and most famously Flann O'Brien for his English-language novels.

He was known for his bizarre metafictional sense of humour, and his positively vicious attitude to contemporary Ireland in An Cruiskeen Lawn. Nothing was safe, neither politics nor religion nor society. He even mocked his own day job, as a powerful private secretary in the Department of Health, where the fact that he was Myles na gCopaleen was an open secret.

Works by O'Nolan:


  • The Alcoholic: O'Nolan was an alcoholic for much of his life, which almost certainly contributed to his eventual throat cancer and heart attack.
  • Bilingual Bonus: O'Nolan was raised an Irish speaker and spoke fluent English and passable German, French and Latin. All of which appear in his work, often mixed together to create bi- (or even tri-)lingual puns.
  • From Beyond the Fourth Wall: In his newspaper column Cruiskeen Lawn, Myles would often interject comments on the column itself from "The Plain People of Ireland", who were a rather dense bunch of people who would ask him what he was going on about or criticise the writing. Myles would often take offence at this and break off the conversation.
  • Pen Name: O'Nolan had many. Most notable is Flann O'Brien for his novels and the name under which he is usually remembered, and Myles na gCopaleen/Gopaleen, the pseudonym under which he wrote his Irish Times column. But he would also write angry letters about his own column under once-off names, and it's suspected he may have been "Stephen Blakesley", writer of some Sexton Blake detective novels, and "John Shamus O'Donnell", who contributed one story to Amazing Stories in 1932.