Sean O'Casey was born John Casey on March 30, 1880, at 85 Upper Dorset Street in Dublin, Ireland to Michael and Susan Casey. His father was a mercantile clerk, but died when O'Casey was 6 years old. The Casey family drifted from house to house in northern Dublin thereafter.
O'Casey suffered from poor eyesight as a child and struggled in school, but had taught himself to read and write by the time he was 13 years old. He quit school at age 14 to work a variety of odd jobs. He always had an interest in the theatre; he and his brother, Archie, would stage performances in the family home.
O'Casey gradually developed a passionate interest in the Irish Nationalist cause. He joined the Gaelic League in 1906 and learned the Irish language. He Gaelicised his name from John Casey to Seán Ó Cathasaigh. He joined the Irish Republican Brotherhood and participated in the Dublin Lockout, a dispute between workers and employers over the right to unionize. The Lockout lasted from 1913-1914, after which O'Casey struggled to find work. In 1914, O'Casey was appointed General Secretary in the Irish Citizen Army under James Connolly. He resigned his post, though, within months over differing opinions. O'Casey was a committed socialist, and believed that to rebel against the English rule without a planned future Socialist government was futile. In his opinion, until the socialist system was in place, the laborer would always be oppressed.
Dublin's Abbey Theatre produced The Shadow of a Gunman in 1923. This was the first collaboration between O'Casey and the Abbey Theatre, and the collaboration would continue for many of O'Casey's most well-known works. Juno and the Peacock was produced in 1924, and The Plough and the Stars in 1926. All three plays deal with the Easter Rising of 1916 and the effect of revolution on the lives of ordinary people.
O'Casey moved to England in 1927, after falling in love with his future wife, Eileen Carey. His plays continued to be produced in Dublin and world-wide - filmmaker Alfred Hitchcock even produced a film of Juno and the Paycock. He passed away on September 18, 1964, at his home in Devon, England.
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