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Red Roses for Me


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Richard III

James Larkin (1876—1947) labour leader in Ireland

 

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A: Sean O'Casey Pf: 1943, Dublin Pb: 1942; rev. 1951, 1965 G: Drama in 4 acts; prose and some rhyming verse S: The Breydons' home, a street, and Protestant church grounds, Dublin, c.1913 C: 16m, 5fAyamonn Breydon, who lives with his mother in a poor area of Dublin, is a young railway-yard worker. As well as leading a strike for a shilling raise, he loves the arts and is seen rehearsing Richard III. He is visited by his sweetheart Sheila Moorneen, who braves her Catholic parents’ objections to her loving a Protestant, but begs Ayamonn to spend less time on the strike. After several other visitors, news comes that the strike will go ahead, despite Revd Clinton's warnings about the likely response by the authorities. When Sheila begs Ayamonn to abandon the strike, he angrily rejects her. At a public meeting Ayamonn offers the poor a vision of a golden future and dances ecstatically with Finnoola, a poor young neighbour. The strike meeting is broken up by the police, and Ayamonn gets shot. He is honoured as a martyr, and Sheila lays red roses on his body, recognizing that ‘Maybe he saw the shilling in th’ shape of a new world.’

A: Sean O'Casey Pf: 1943, Dublin Pb: 1942; rev. 1951, 1965 G: Drama in 4 acts; prose and some rhyming verse S: The Breydons' home, a street, and Protestant church grounds, Dublin, c.1913 C: 16m, 5f

Unashamedly proclaiming a socialist utopia, Red Roses for Me is loosely based on O'Casey's own life and on that of the great Irish trade unionist Jim Larkin, especially at the time of the Dublin Lock-Out of Larkinite transport workers in 1913. As nationalism began to dominate Irish politics, Larkin emigrated to the United States, and O'Casey emigrated to literature. This play is as much an elegy as an expression of hope.

Subjects: Literary Studies (Plays and Playwrights).


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Sean O'Casey (1880—1964) playwright and writer


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