Mary Devenport O'Neill

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Mary Devenport O'Neill (3 August 1879 – 1967) was an Irish poet and dramatist and a friend and colleague of W. B. Yeats, George Russell,and Austin Clarke.

Early life and education

Mary Devenport was born in Loughrea, County Galway, Ireland in 1879.[1] She was a pupil of the Dominican Convent in Eccles Street, Dublin where her family moved after the death of her father, a RIC sub-constable in Loughrea. From 1898-1903 she studied teaching at the Dublin Metropolitan School of Art (the present-day National College of Art, Dublin).[2]


She published three verse plays,Bluebeard (1933), Cain(1945) and Out of The Darkness (1947). Her final play War, The Monster was performed by the Abbey Experimental Theatre Company in 1949 but was not published. When she was fifty, she published a collection of poetry Prometheus and Other Poems (London: Jonathan Cape 1929) which comprises thirty-three lyric poems, four "dream poems", one long poem, and a verse-play. She published regularly in The Dublin Magazine and contributed reviews to The Bell and The Irish Times. Two of her plays were performed by Austin Clarke's Lyric Theatre Company. Devenport engaged in lengthy correspondence with Clarke from 1929-48 concerning the production of her work and combining choreography with verse for these productions. Bluebeard, a ballet based on her play, was choreographed by Ninette de Valois as one of the final productions of the Abbey school of ballet.

Her collection, Prometheus and Other Poems, was the first collection of poetry published by an Irish poet, besides Yeats, which could be considered modernist. She is one of a small number of known early 20th century Irish modernist women poets. Her regular Thursday salon was attended by W. B. Yeats, AE, Austin Clarke, Frank O'Connor and other prominent Irish writers and artists. Devenport had a reputation as a psychic. She served as consultant to Yeats while he was working on his book A Vision.[2]

Personal life

She married in 1908 and her husband, Joseph O'Neill was an author and Permanent Secretary of the Department of Education.


  1. ^ Barfield, Steven (2007). William Stewart, ed. British and Irish poets: a biographical dictionary. McFarland. p. 298. ISBN 9780786428915. 
  2. ^ a b "Mary Devenport O'Neill". Princess Grace Irish Library. Archived from the original on 14 May 2011. Retrieved 28 June 2013. 
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