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Happy MylesDay! On 1st April each year Dublin celebrates one of Ireland’s greatest writers, Myles na gCopaleen. And Flann O’Brien too. And (his real name) Brian O’Nolan. Or (in Irish) Brian Ó Nualláin.

All four of these names died on 1st April 1966, along with dozens of pseudonyms he used when writing letters to the papers. That particular April day must have been one of great carnage.

Myles / Flann / Brian was a novelist, satirist, playwright, civil servant and newspaper columnist. His writings are surreal, satirical, smart, scientific, Gothic, anarchic, dark, wickedly funny, manic and postmodern (before we even knew the meaning of the word).

Like many another of my generation, I became a fan through The Brother, Eamon Morrissey’s brilliant one-man show based on his work…

That drew me to the original written stuff. Here’s a superb little review from AbeBooks about Flann O’Brien’s book about a bike – The Third Policeman

Next up, I had to chase up the collections of his newspaper columns. Here’s the comedian Tommy Tiernan cracking up as he tries to read one of Myles’s “Cruiskeen Lawn” outings…

And a tribute by the poet Chris McLaughlin, a story-poem called “Is It About A Bicycle?” Note the occurrence of the bicycle again, and the Strabane accent…

As I was saying, he died on this day in 1966; hence today’s celebrations in The Palace Bar on Fleet Street and other venues around Dublin.

Many people mistakenly think of Myles / Flann / Brian as a Dub. Perhaps it’s due to Eamon Morrissey’s show which was performed in a thoroughly Dublin accent.

But here’s a splendid little documentary about the man’s roots in Strabane, County Tyrone. He was born there in October 1911. A Flann O’Brien Literary Festival takes place in Strabane every October, and a statue of him was recently erected outside Strabane Library.

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