Seán Ó Faoláin
Seán Proinsias Ó Faoláin (22 February 1900– 20 April 1991) was an Irish short story
Short story
A short story is a work of fiction that is usually written in prose, often in narrative format. This format tends to be more pointed than longer works of fiction, such as novellas and novels. Short story definitions based on length differ somewhat, even among professional writers, in part because...

 writer. He was elected Saoi
Saoi , is the highest honour that members of Aosdána, an association of people in Ireland who have achieved distinction in the arts, can bestow upon a fellow member...

 of Aosdána
Aosdána is an Irish association of Artists. It was created in 1981 on the initiative of a group of writers and with support from the Arts Council of Ireland. Membership, which is by invitation from current members, is limited to 250 individuals; before 2005 it was limited to 200...

 in 1986.

Born as John Francis Whelan in Cork City, County Cork, Ireland
Cork (city)
Cork is the second largest city in the Republic of Ireland and the island of Ireland's third most populous city. It is the principal city and administrative centre of County Cork and the largest city in the province of Munster. Cork has a population of 119,418, while the addition of the suburban...

, Sean Ó Faoláin wrote his first stories in the 1920s. Through 90 stories, written over a period of 60 years, Ó Faoláin charts the development of modern Ireland. His Collected Stories were published in 1983, eight years before his death on 20 April 1991, in Dublin.

Ó Faoláin was educated at the Presentation Brothers Secondary School
Presentation Brothers College, Cork
Presentation Brothers College is a Catholic, boys-only, fee-paying college based in Cork, Ireland.- History :The college was founded by the Presentation Brothers in 1878, in the South Mall. Soon afterwards it moved to the Grand Parade and, in 1887, to the Western Road...

 in Cork. He fought in the War of Independence
Irish War of Independence
The Irish War of Independence , Anglo-Irish War, Black and Tan War, or Tan War was a guerrilla war mounted by the Irish Republican Army against the British government and its forces in Ireland. It began in January 1919, following the Irish Republic's declaration of independence. Both sides agreed...

. He received M.A. degrees from the National University of Ireland
National University of Ireland
The National University of Ireland , , is a federal university system of constituent universities, previously called constituent colleges, and recognised colleges set up under the Irish Universities Act, 1908, and significantly amended by the Universities Act, 1997.The constituent universities are...

 and from Harvard University
Harvard University
Harvard University is a private Ivy League university located in Cambridge, Massachusetts, United States, established in 1636 by the Massachusetts legislature. Harvard is the oldest institution of higher learning in the United States and the first corporation chartered in the country...

, was a Commonwealth Fellow from 1926 to 1928 and a Harvard Fellow
President and Fellows of Harvard College
The President and Fellows of Harvard College is the more fundamental of Harvard University's two governing boards...

 from 1928 to 1929.

From 1929 to 1933 Ó Faoláin lectured at St Mary's College, Strawberry Hill, during which period he wrote his first two books.

He served as director of the Arts Council of Ireland
Arts Council of Ireland
The Arts Council of Ireland was founded in 1951 by the Government of Ireland to encourage interest in Irish art and channel to funding from the state to Irish artists and arts organisations...

 from 1956 to 1959, and from 1940 to 1990 he was a founder member and editor of the Irish literary periodical The Bell
The Bell (magazine)
The Bell Magazine Dublin, Ireland. A monthly magazine of literature and social comment which had a seminal influence on a generation of Irish intellectuals.- History :...

. The list of contributors to The Bell included many of Ireland's foremost writers, among them Patrick Kavanagh
Patrick Kavanagh
Patrick Kavanagh was an Irish poet and novelist. Regarded as one of the foremost poets of the 20th century, his best known works include the novel Tarry Flynn and the poems Raglan Road and The Great Hunger...

, Patrick Swift
Patrick Swift
Patrick Swift was an artist born in Dublin, Ireland. Patrick Swift was a painter and key cultural figure in Dublin and London before moving to the Algarve in southern Portugal, where he is buried in the town of Porches...

, Flann O'Brien
Flann O'Brien
Brian O'Nolan was an Irish novelist, playwright and satirist regarded as a key figure in postmodern literature. Best known for novels such as At Swim-Two-Birds, The Third Policeman and An Béal Bocht and many satirical columns in The Irish Times Brian O'Nolan (5 October 1911 – 1 April 1966) was...

, Frank O'Connor
Frank O'Connor
Frank O’Connor was an Irish author of over 150 works, best known for his short stories and memoirs.-Early life:...

 and Brendan Behan
Brendan Behan
Brendan Francis Behan was an Irish poet, short story writer, novelist, and playwright who wrote in both Irish and English. He was also an Irish republican and a volunteer in the Irish Republican Army.-Early life:...


Family life

Ó Faoláin married Eileen Gould, a children's writer, in 1929. Their daughter Julia O'Faolain
Julia O'Faolain
Julia O'Faolain is an Irish novelist and short story writer. Her parents were Irish writers Seán Ó Faoláin and Eileen Gould....

 (b. 1932) is a Booker-nominated novelist and short-story writer. Their son Stephen was born in 1938.


  • Midsummer Night Madness and Other Stories (1932, short stories)
  • A Nest of Simple Folk (1933, novel)
  • Bird Alone (1936, novel)
  • The Autobiography of Theobald Wolfe Tone (1937, biography)
  • A Life of Daniel O'Connell (1938, biography)
  • A New Ireland (1938, magazine article)
  • An Irish Journey (1940)
  • Come Back to Erin (1940, novel)
  • The Great O'Neill (1942, biography, of Hugh O'Neill)
  • The Irish: A Character Study (1947)
  • The Man Who Invented Sin (1948, short stories)
  • The Short Story (1948, literary criticism)
  • Newman's Way: The Odyssey of John Henry Newman (1952)
  • An Autumn in Italy (1953, travel)
  • The Vanishing Hero - Studies in Novelists of the Twenties(1956)
  • Vive moi! (1964, memoir)
  • The Heat of the Sun, Stories and Tales (1966, short stories)
  • The Talking Trees (1971, short stories)
  • Foreign Affairs, and Other Stories (1976, short stories)
  • Selected Stories (1978, short stories)
  • And Again? (1979, novel)
  • Collected Stories of Sean O'Faolain I (1980, short stories)


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