Colum's Writings

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  • Longford People

Plays and Children's Literature

First Edition of Pádraic Colum's Three Plays

Pádraic Colum wrote in many different genres and made a large contribution to Irish literature. His earliest successes came when some of his plays, including The Land (1905) and The Fiddler's House (1907), were staged in the Abbey Theatre.

Colum was one of the founders the Abbey Theatre and was friends with some of the key figures in the literary revival, such as W.B. Yeats and Lady Gregory. These plays gave the theatre some of its first public successes.

In the US, Colum took up children's writing and published a number of collections of stories for children. Books such as A Boy in Éireann (1913) and The King of Ireland's Son (1916), established Colum's reputation in the US as a writer of note. A contract with Macmillan Publishers to write more children's literature gave him some financial security.

Colum's stories for children consist of versions of myths from Ireland and elsewhere in the world, written in a readable style. Other children's books by Colum include Odysseus (1918) and Orpheus (1930).

Poetry and Novels

Colum made his reputation as a poet in America with a version of his poetry collection, Wild Earth, which contained additions such as the famous She Moved Through The Fair. This was his first poetry collection, and had been initially published in 1907. Its lyric poems are mainly about rural life in Ireland and he portrayed ordinary rural poeple in a sympathetic light.

Colum wrote two novels: Castle Conquer (1923) and The Flying Swans (1937). However, throughout his life he considered himself primarily a dramatist.

Colum was a prolific author and published over fifty works. In the final years of his life, Colum emphasised the importance of his childhood in Longford to his writings. He maintained that he had always tried to use the speech of the people of Longford in his work.

Colum is remembered particularly for his poetry. He was unusual for his time in using simple language, which made his work very readable. One of Colum's most famous poems is called 'An Old Woman of the Roads'. Many children have learned this poem in school throughout the years. Ask your parents if they remember the poem from their own schooldays. It describes the hardships and dreams of an old woman who is poor and wandering the roads without a home.

Click here to read the poem in full.