Better known by his literature name Flann O’Brien, Brian O’Nolan was an Irish novelist, playwright, and satirist, considered a major figure in twentieth century Irish literature, modernist and postmodern literature.
Born to an Irish-speaking family on 5 October, 1911, O’Nolan was raised in Strabane located in Co. Tyrone.
He served as a civil servant in Dublin, while also writing articles for newspapers under the name, Myles na Gopaleen. His collection of remarkable comic columns and inventive novels have given him a posthumous reputation.
O’Nolan’s dependence on alcohol for much of his life, had a negative impact on his work later in his life. He suffered from ill health and fought a battle against cancer of the throat. On April 1, 1966 O’Nolan tragically died of a heart attack.
His work remains spoken about today and he has gained a reputation of respect among those who have read his work.
To mark the colourful life of Brian O’Nolan, Ireland’s Eye has compiled some of his most famous words.
“When things go wrong and will not come right,
Though you do the best you can,
When life looks black as the hour of night –
A pint of plain is your only man.”
“The majority of the members of the Irish parliament are professional politicians, in the sense that otherwise they would not be given jobs minding mice at crossroads.”
“Anybody who has the courage to raise his eyes and look sanely at the awful human condition … must realize finally that tiny periods of temporary release from intolerable suffering is the most that any individual has the right to expect.”
“I am completely half afraid to think.”
“Moderation, we find, is an extremely difficult thing to get in this country.”
“In Boston he met a pretty lady, fat and forty, but beautiful with the bloom of cash and collateral.”
“A woman doesn’t care if she hasn’t a stomach, provided she looks as if she hasn’t.”