“A canonical piece. Like Brian Friel’s Philadelphia, Here I Come! — which premiered in the Gaiety a week after King of the Castle‘s first performance in the same venue at the 1964 Theatre Festival — King of the Castle memorably picks away at the tensions and frustrations of rural life in a changing Ireland, but with a harsher, more savage eye.
— Mick Heaney, Irish Times on Druid’s revival of King of the Castle, 2017
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Eugene McCabe is an Irish novellist, short story writer, playwright and television screen writer. He is a member of Aosdána.
Considered to be a master storyteller and dramatist, Eugene McCabe was born in Glasgow in July 1930 to Irish parents. His family returned to Clones in County Monaghan in the early forties and he attended University College, Cork. In the early seventies, he wrote what is probably regarded as his most famous set of works, a trilogy of television plays on the differing traditions in Northern Ireland. The trilogy, broadcast by RTÉ Television in 1973 was titled Victims and consisted of Cancer, Heritage and Siege. Cancer won the Writers’ Award in Prague and second prize in the Prix Italia. His 1992 novel Death and Nightingales set in 1883, has become something of a contemporary classic.
He has received many awards for his work including the Irish Life Theatre Award in 1964 for King of the Castle which was first produced that year by the Dublin Theatre Festival; the Legum Doctorate from University of Prince Edward Island, Canada, 1990 and the Butler Literary Award for Prose from Irish American Cultural Institute in 2002. From the American/Irish Ireland Funds, he received the 2006 AWB Vincent Literary Award.
His short fiction includes the novella and stories Victims: A Tale from Fermanagh; Heritage and Other Stories; Christ in the Fields, A Fermanagh Trilogy and Heaven Lies about Us.
Eugene McCabe died in August 2020.
King of the Castle
Thirty years after it was first produced and won The Irish Life Award of the Dublin Theatre Festival, King of the Castle retains its awful force.