Fans of Irish literature decided that Brian O’Nolan, a great Irish writer, should have a day of his own, and Myles Day, celebrated on April 1, was established. This is a reference to one of Brian O’Nolan’s characters: Myles gCopaleen. The name Myles, like Flann O’Brien and George Knowall, was one of many aliases O’Nolan used during his writing career. Myles O’Brian wrote short columns for “The Irish Times” from late 1940 to early 1966 and was very popular with readers.
History of Myles Day
Over the past 150 years, Ireland has proven itself to be the breadbasket of many brilliant writers: James Joyce, George Bernard Shaw, Oscar Wilde, Bram Stoker, W.B. Yeats, and Samuel Beckett, to name a few. In fact, the country’s literary history is much older and originates from the Celtic poets. Irish literature is the third oldest in Europe, being younger only than Greek and Latin literature.
A characteristic of Irish literature is that the writing varies between English and Gaelic. It is precisely this interplay of languages that so strongly marks the work of another great Irish author Brian O’Nolan.
A journalist, novelist, playwright, and satirist, O’Nolan wrote novels in English, columns in Gaelic, satirical plays, and even articles on thermodynamics and atomic theory that blended the two languages. Despite being one of the continuators of the literary innovations introduced by James Joyce, O’Nolan makes clear his differences from the author of the novel “Ulysses” in various works and public positions.
In 2011, the year that O’Nolan would celebrate his centenary, his fans decided to honor him with an afternoon of beer, performance, music, and literature. The meeting took place at the writer’s former ‘watering hole,” the Palace Bar on Fleet Street in Dublin.
The event was a great success and brought together writers, Irish literature lovers, and O’Nolan worshippers. Despite being a celebration of the writer’s life and work, the date chosen to honor him was that of his death. O’Nolan suffered a heart attack on April 1, 1968.
Before the 10th anniversary of the observance, Myles Day celebrants had to interrupt the meetings at the Palace Bar due to the covid pandemic. However, they resumed in 2022.
Myles Day timeline
On October 5, writer O'Nolan is born in Strabane.
Under the pseudonym Flann O'Brien, O'Nolan publishes his first book called "At-Swim Two-Birds."
He dies of a heart attack in Dublin, on April 1.
Fans and readers gather for the first time at the Palace Bar in Dublin to celebrate the life and work of O'Nolan.
The Myles Day celebrations resume.
Myles Day FAQs
What is celebrated on Myles Day?
The life and work of writer Brian O’Nolan.
Where is Myles Day celebrated?
At the Palace Bar in Dublin, although it can be celebrated in any pub.
What is the most famous Irish book?
Published in 1922, James Joyce’s “Ulysses” is one of the most famous books of the 20th century.
Myles Day Activities
Organize a costume party
Some Irish writers are easily recognizable by their figures. How about getting your friends together at a themed costume party and taking a selfie with James Joyce, Brian O'Nolan, and Oscar Wilde?
Immerse yourself in the author's work
O'Nolan was a prodigy of bizarre humor and modernist metafiction. His works are a delight to anyone who enjoys inventive and unusual literature.
Support your local pub
O'Nolan was a regular at various pubs in Dublin. If you like pubs too, a great way to celebrate Myles Day is to visit your favorite local pub and try the combination the author loved: beer and literature.
5 Facts About Irish Literature That Will Blow Your Mind
The Celts started this trend
Irish literature began with the oral tradition of Celtic storytellers and poets reciting verses and tales about heroes.
It is made up of many languages
Although English is the most common, Irish literature includes writings in Irish, Latin, and Scottish.
The first book
The Cathach is the oldest example of Irish writing — it dates back to the 6th century and is attributed to the Irish monk, Saint Columba.
Western literature was revolutionized by Joyce
Joyce was considered a genius who revolutionized Western literature by releasing "Ulysses" in 1922, a book written using the stream of consciousness.
It is also a land of playwrights
Ireland also has brilliant playwrights like Samuel Beckett, Oscar Wilde, and Bernard Shaw.
Why We Love Myles Day
Brian O'Nolan deserves to be known
O'Nolan was a prolific writer and his work deserves to be known. Myles Day is a fun tribute to this iconic artist.
It's a good excuse to go to the pub
Myles Day should be celebrated in pubs. And what better excuse to hit the pub than saying you're going to a book club?
It promotes fun competition with Bloomsday
James Joyce is certainly the most celebrated Irish writer in the world, but not the only one. If he has Bloomsday, why couldn't O'Nolan have Myles Day?
Myles Day dates