Playwright, poet and novelist Tom MacIntyre was one of the most provocative figures in recent Irish theatre, his avantgarde-accented work challenging theatremakers and audiences alike.
With actor Tom Hickey and director Patrick Mason he produced 16 plays for Dublin’s Peacock Theatre – where staff anointed them “the three lunatics in the basement” – that subverted the creaking norms of Irish stagecraft while remaining rooted in the language and landscape of his native County Cavan. For Hickey, he “changed the way a whole generation of actors and directors saw the world.”
Born in the border county’s Bailieborough (hometown of actor TP McKenna), he read English literature at University College Dublin before teaching English and History at Clongowes Wood College, County Kildare, where one of his pupils was future taoiseach John Bruton.
MacIntyre’s first play for the Peacock was 1972’s Eye-Winker, Tom-Tinker but his most abiding success was his 1983 adaptation of Patrick Kavanagh’s poem The Great Hunger, which exploited his signature use of image-saturated writing and physicality with virtuosic knowingness.
He won the Stewart Parker award for Caoineadh Airt Uí Laoghaire in 1999 and an Irish Theatre Award for The Gallant John-Joe, a soliloquy for Hickey, in 2002. His last play in the Abbey Theatre’s studio was Only an Apple in 2009.
In 1991 he was appointed a member of the government-sponsored association of elite Irish artists, Aosdána.
He published several volumes of poetry and short stories, a novel and Through the Bridewell Gate, which explored an infamous arms trial in Dublin, in 1971.
Tom MacIntyre was born on December 10, 1931 and died on October 30, aged 87.