Teresa Deevy

Summary

 

Teresa Deevy, playwight, was born in Waterford in 1894 and went on to study at University College Dublin and University College Cork. It was in London that she developed her interest in drama.  In the mid 1920s she began submitting her work to the Abbey Theatre where they staged her three-act play, ‘Reapers’.  This was followed by a ‘A Disciple’ and in1932 her award winning play, ‘Temporal Powers’ was produced.  ‘The King of Spain's Daughter’ followed in 1935, ‘Katie Roche’ and ‘The Wild Goose’ came in 1936.  It was an amazing achievement for a woman at that time in Ireland, let alone a profoundly deaf woman, to an established nationally recognised playwright. Many of her plays were broadcast on Radio Eireann and BBC Northern Ireland.  She died in 1963 at the age of 68.

More information

 

Teresa Deevy was born in Waterford in 1894, the youngest child of business man Edward Deevy and his wife Mary.  Having attended the Ursuline Convent in the City, Teresa went on to study at University College Dublin.  However her studies in Dublin were curtailed as she developed the hereditary Méniéres disease which eventually rendered her totally deaf.  She had transferred to University College Cork as the deafness progressed but eventually moved to London in 1914 to learn lip reading. It was in London that she developed her interest in drama.  Although she was totally deaf by now, she would read play scripts before attending the performance and lip read the actors as they performed.  When she returned to Waterford in 1919 she was already writing plays and contributing articles and stories to local and national press. In the mid 1920s she began submitting her work to the Abbey Theatre where eventually in 1930 they staged her three-act play, ‘Reapers’.  This was followed in 1931 by a one-act play, ‘A Disciple’ and in1932 her award winning play, ‘Temporal Powers’ was produced.  ‘The King of Spain's Daughter’ followed in 1935, ‘Katie Roche’ and ‘The Wild Goose’ came in 1936.  Her play ‘Wife to James Whelan’ was rejected by the Abbey in 1937.  It was an amazing achievement for a woman at that time in Ireland, let alone a profoundly deaf woman, to break through the glass ceiling and become an established nationally recognised playwright. In the late thirties she became interested in writing for the radio and for the next twenty years many of her plays were broadcast on Radio Eireann and BBC Northern Ireland.  In 1939 two of her plays were shown on the new BBC Television service.  She died in 1963 at the age of 68.

 

After her death in 1963 her plays were neglected by theatre managers and it seemed that the theatre world had forgotten her, but, in April 1994, the Abbey Theatre revived her play, Katie Roche to critical acclaim and this has led to a slow but steady renaissance.  Her canon of plays is now becoming the subject of literary conferences and University theses and in very recent times some of her works have been revived and performed in New York and London.  It has also come to the attention of the Deevy family that an increasing number of Irish amateur companies are also applying for the rights to perform her plays.