My father, Donagh MacDonagh was a well known poet and playwright. He plays are all written in verse, but are hardly serious. Even the tragedy, Lady Spider (based on the story of Deirdre of the Sorrows) is as funny as it is tragic. His poetry is much more serious, displaying a fine sense of craftsmanship and history. He also wrote a number of songs in the ballad idiom, some of which have founds their way into the Irish tradition. Here are links to some of his works.


God's Gentry is a play about the tinkers. The tinkers are travelling people , very similar to gypsies but completely Irish in heritage. This play made its debut when I was about 5 and it totally facinated me. I wanted to go to school with tin cups hanging off my braces. (Braces are what we in Ireland call suspenders). If you are a singer, this could be a good source of songs for you.

God's Gentry

Lady Spider is, by far, my father's best writing. Here he passes over from being a consummate craftsman to a true artist.

Lady Spider

Some of his poetry
Some songs from his plays
Translations ofpoetry from the Irish

The last link it to what is probably his best known play, Happy as Larry. This play is in Acrobat format so you will need to download it (about an 850k download) and read it using Adobe Acrobat. If you do not have that program you can get a free reader at There are a lot of typos - the result of an inadequately proofread OCR translation from the printed book. If clicking on the link does not invite you to download the file, then right click on the link and choose "Save target as"

Happy As Larry