Joseph Tomelty was one of the first playwrights of note to emerge from post partition Ireland.
Writing directly from his early experiences of his native Portaferry and working-class Belfast,
his plays gave memorable voice to a distinctly Northern Irish sensibility.
Tomelty was, in some ways, the backbone of the celebrated Ulster Group Theatre and the plays
encompass the broad comedy of Right Again, Barnum and Mugs & Money - still providing the
template for the 'Ulster comedy' - to the darker, more intensely psychological explorations
of Poor Errand, The End House, All Souls' Night and The Singing Bird.
Taken together, the plays produce a compelling and multi-faceted portrait of a playwright fully
engaged with the people of his native place and the life of his time.
Produced to mark the centenary of his birth, Joseph Tomelty: Collected Plays gathers together his
nine major stage plays and three radio plays with many being published here for the first time.
Introduced by the poet and critic Damian Smyth, it brings to the fore once again a formidable body
of work, and one key to understanding contemporary Northern Irish theatre.
The Elopement - Idolatry at Innishargie - Poor Errand - Right Again, Barnum - The End House
All Souls' Night - The Singing Bird - The Drunken Sailor - Down the Heather Glen
Is the Priest at Home? - Mugs & Money - April in Assagh.
Damian Smyth is a poet and critic. He edited Joseph Tomelty: All Souls' Night & Other Plays
(Lagan Press, 1993). His latest collection is Market Street (Lagan Press, 2010). He works
in arts administration.
Born in Portaferry in 1911 , Joseph Tomelty was a playwright, novelist and actor. A key figure in the
founding of the legendary Ulster Group Theatre, he provided some of the Bedford Street-based theatre's
most highly regarded and popular plays. including Right Again, Barnum (1943) and All Souls' Night (1948).
As well as being a playwright, he also wrote two novels, Red is the Port Light (1948) and The Apprentice (1953).
In addition, he penned the seminal Northern Ireland radio soap. The McCooeys (1948-1954). A major car
accident in 1954 effectively ended his writing career, although he continued as an actor and a much-loved
figure on the local scene. He died in 1995, aged 84.