Brennan, Maeve – writer and journalist

A photograph of the Dublin City Council commemorative plaque for Maeve Brennan, at 48 Cherryfield Avenue, Ranelagh, Dublin.

This plaque, at 48 Cherryfield Avenue, Ranelagh, commemorates Maeve Brennan, columnist with the New Yorker magazine and writer of short stories.

Maeve Brennan, once described as ‘the greatest Irish writer you never heard of’, was born in Dublin on 6 January 1917, second of four children of the journalist Bob Brennan, who would go on to found the Irish Press.

The family lived at 48 Cherryfield Avenue, Ranelagh, Dublin, from 1921 until 1934. The house is the setting for many of her stories.

After her father was selected as Ireland’s ambassador to Washington in 1934, Maeve Brennan completed her secondary and third level education in Washington and moved to New York to work in a library. There her literary talent was noticed by the editor of New Yorker magazine. For three decades she contributed to the New Yorker and had two critically acclaimed collections of short stories published in 1969.

While fighting a losing battle against financial and mental health problems, she retreated into obscurity and spent her last years in a home for the elderly in New York, her talent unknown to her carers and, in the end, herself.  It was only after her death in 1993 that her work was anthologised and recognised by a new generation of writers and critics, placing Maeve Brennan among the best Irish short-story writers since Joyce. Her works have been accepted into the canon of twentieth century literature:

The plaque was unveiled by the Lord Mayor of Dublin on 6 January 2024.

Holloway, Joseph – literary critic and architect

This plaque commemorates Joseph Holloway (1861–1944), Architect and Theatre Critic, who designed the first Abbey Theatre.

Born in Camden Street, where his father had a bakery, Holloway was educated at St Vincent’s in Castleknock. Following the death of his father, in 1874, the family moved to 21 Northumberland Road, where Holloway lived until his death in 1944.

Locate this plaque on Google maps.

After studying at the Dublin School of Art, in 1890 he joined O’Callaghan architects, in Kildare Street, Dublin, and after 6 years he began working for himself in 1896.

Holloway’s most famous work was the remodelling of the Mechanics’ Institute and Theatre on Lower Abbey Street as the first Abbey Theatre, which opened in December 1904.

He gave up architecture after the First World War, and, having a private income, he was able to devote himself to the theatre. A great supporter of the Irish Literary Theatre and then Irish National Theatre, he attended almost all rehearsals and first nights.

Over his lifetime he accumulated a vast collection of material relating to Irish theatre, which adorned every inch of his house, including programmes, playbills, prompt sheets, and paintings and sketches of theatrical personalities.

More significantly, he kept a diary or journal which amounted to 25 million words on Dublin’s theatre world. Although criticised by the likes of Sean O’Casey and Frank O’Connor, the diaries are an invaluable source for the history of Irish theatre.

Holloway died in 1944 and his huge archive was donated to the National Library of Ireland where it is catalogued as the Joseph Holloway Collection.

The plaque was unveiled by Councillor Dermot Lacey on 28 June 2023.