Maire Ni Oisín – Actress at the Abbey and Gate Theatres during the 20s and 30s. Born in Ballydotia, Belclare, Co Galway in 1899. She is pictured here in 1934 on the front page of the Irish Press. Maire-March 12 1934 Irish PressShe worked initially with Piaras Beaslai (Michael Collin’s friend and biographer, Head of Propaganda in the Irish War of Independence, and prominent in the Playboy Riots), Gearoid O’Lochlainn (Avant Garde Playwright and actor, and early participant in Danish film) and Maire ni Siocháin (all interesting characters in their own right). She played in a range of Irish language original plays and translations, as an amateur member of An Comhar Dramaoichta. From 1928 she worked with Michael McLiammoir, appearing in many of his productions, but playing opposite him as Grainne to his Diarmuid in his play “Diarmuid agus Grainne” in 1934. She was a stalwart of his Irish Language Theatre (referenced in his Biography “All for Hecuba”) in the 30s.


nli000510192I like to imagine she crossed with the 16 year old Orson Welles who got his first break in the Gate Theatre in 1931 (with an introduction from another Gaelic Player and Scene Painter Colm O’Ceallaigh). She probably did. From the many reviews in the Irish Times and Irish Press she was a talented comic actress, and like her sisters a talented singer. In the late 20s and 30s she appeared on the Radio in the first Irish Language Radio play ” Casadh An Sugain”, and later as a storyteller on children’s hour until the late 30s.There is a lot of material about this women in newspaper articles, mainly forgotten by her family. Perhaps because she never married and left no children to remember her. She died in 1957 living with her sister Mairead Ni Oisin (Mrs McCann).

“Maire ni Oisin as a servant girl with a taste for matchmaking was the success of the evening”

“Maire ni Oisin as a roguish servant was in one of her best parts, and her coaching of a shy suiter in a poetical proposal was pure delight”

“Maire Ni Oisin, as the Damsel who saw through all pretences acted with her usual impish humour. Mr Beaslai himself took a part acting a student who wins the leading lady”.


The Hession’s of Ballydotia, Belclare




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