Former deputy editor of The Irish Times James “Jim” Downey  at his home in Monkstown, Co Dublin, in October 2009. File photograph: Brenda Fitzsimons/The Irish Times

James Downey had journalism and politics in his blood, but last Wednesday he decided he could wait no longer for a government to be formed, mourners a(...)

Rosie Redman and the Covey (Joseph Linnane) in a scene from an Abbey Theatre production of Sean O’Casey’s The Plough And The Stars in 1942. Photograph: Haywood Magee/Picture Post/Hulton Archive/Getty Images

They don’t make them like this any more. Sitting at the back of the Abbey’s rehearsal space is what I take to be one of the theatre’s most famed props(...)

Brian Friel at his front door. Photograph: Bobbie Hanvey

My introduction to Brian Friel’s work came in 1991, at the Abbey Theatre in Dublin, when I was taken for my 14th birthday to see Dancing at Lughnasa. (...)

Director Ethan McSweeny and Aislín McGuckin in rehearsals for A Month in the Country at the Gate Theatre. Photograph: Pat Redmond

Not long after Brian Friel had completed his second adaptation of the work of Ivan Turgenev, in 1999, adding to his growing store of translations, (...)

Doing a lot with a little: John Doran plays the ukulele in Romeo and Juliet; he also joins the cast in several other roles. Photographs: Pat Redmond

Stage roles don’t come much smaller than the part of the doctor in A Streetcar Named Desire. For the actor playing him the job is mainly confined t(...)

David Butler’s latest novel City of Dis is published by New Island.

David Butler is the author of three novels: The Last European (Wynkin de Worde 2005); The Judas Kiss (New Island 2012); City of Dis (New Island 2014);(...)

Rosita Boland What would you like in your stocking? The attention span I used to have, plus the focus to read several books a month. All(...)

Was ever a writer so beset by calamity as Tennessee Williams? As a homosexual alcoholic and lifelong depressive, he craved literary recognition – a(...)

The Shooting Party Anton Chekhov (1884) A master playwright, dramaturge and short story writer, Chekhov veered into longer form territory with nove(...)

Brendan Behan with Jackie Gleason in Gleason’s dressing room in 1960. Photograph: Walter Albertin / Library of Congress

In 1960, shortly after the announcement that his play The Hostage was transferring to Broadway, Brendan Behan was having a drink in a Dublin pub with (...)