Irish Literature

A Fascinating New Podcast for Fans of Flann O’Brien

Earlier this summer, over on Substack, I compiled this review with Youtube clips of an excellent new podcast series that is hosted by Dr. Tobias Harris of Birkbeck ,University of London. The university has supported this initiative, which Dr. Harris has led over the past few years, to shed new light on one of Ireland’s great authors of the 20th century, Brian O’Nolan (better known as Flann O’Brien, his pen name for novels like At Swim-Two-Birds and The Third Policeman).

The podcast is geared towards both general and specialist audiences, making it a welcome access point for curious readers who may not be steeped in O’Nolan’s work, while also providing just enough rare archival finds to keep specialist intrigued as well. O’Nolan was a formidable, complex author and a rather enigmatic personality – the show’s name itself is a nod to one of his other pen names, Myles na gCopaleen, under which he famously wrote the cryptic and satirical Cruiskeen Lawn columns for the Irish Times – so that there will always be more research to be done and insight to be collected.

The early episodes I discuss in the above story are very promising, featuring world-renowned experts like Profesors Joseph Brooker and Maebh Long, and covering everything from O’Nolan’s use of philosophy to his inspiration for today’s authors to his unexplore connection with great contemporary Borges.

The Radio Myles podcast article also contains links to its official website, which includes the 1 April online conference on the history of early Irish Radio Broadcasting at which I was among the speakers, delivering a short presentation on O”Nolan’s 1942 play, Thirst. I continue that research and look forward to publishing on it in greater detail in the year ahead.