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Dion Boucicault Collections

Arrah-na-Pogue

Accession code: UKC/CALB/ARR

ARRAH-NA-POGUE was the second of Dion Boucicault's great "Irish plays", written after The Colleen Bawn and before The Shaughraun. The play was first performed at the Theatre Royal, Dublin on 7 November 1864, after which Boucicault rewrote it radically, cutting a duel in the final act, condensing the plot, and inserting a "sensation scene" in which Shaun climbs an ivy-covered tower wall. The first English production opened at the (Royal) Princess's Theatre, London, on 22 March 1865. It ran for 164 nights, with Agnes and Dion Boucicault in the roles of Arrah Meelish and Shaun the Post.

Characters in the play

Music cover for Arrah-na-Pogue
  • Colonel Bagenal O'Grady (The O'Grady)
  • Beamish Mac Coul (The Mac Coul)
  • Major Coffin (an English Officer)
  • Secretary of State
  • Sergeant
  • Mr. Michael Feeny
  • Winterbottom (the valet)
  • Shaun-the-Post (a Wicklow Post-Carman)
  • Oiny Farrel
  • Andy Regan
  • Lanagan
  • Patsy
  • Tim Cogan
  • Arrah Meelish (nicknamed by the peasantry "Arrah-na-Pogue," or "Arrah of the kiss")
  • Fanny Power, of Cabinteely
  • Katty

Plot

Set during the Irish rebellion of 1798, the play tells a story of love and loyalty under pressure. The action takes place over a forty-eight hour period.

The first act opens at night, with the rebel Beamish Mac Coul waylaying and robbing the cowardly rent-collector Michael Feeny. Beamish is preparing to leave the country with Fanny Power, whom he plans to marry the following night before they embark for France together. He gives part of the stolen money as a wedding present to his foster-sister Arrah Meelish, who has been sheltering him at her peril, unbeknown to her fiancé, Shaun, and to Fanny.

Feeny, who wants Arrah for himself, visits her the next morning - the morning of her wedding day; she rejects him and he swears to see her humbled in time. Arrah is provoked into showing Feeny the money, who recognizes it as his own; he then catches a glimpse of Beamish concealed in the barn. Next we discover that Colonel O'Grady, the local magistrate, is in love with Fanny and has procured a pardon for Beamish. This was Fanny's condition for marrying him, but now that she and Beamish are planning to flee together, she asks him to tear it up. However, Fanny learns that Arrah got her nickname "Arrah of the kiss" when she previously helped Beamish escape from prison by concealing a message in her mouth and passing it to him in a kiss; she begins to doubt Beamish's feelings for herself. Enter Feeny to report that he has been robbed, and that Arrah has the money and is giving shelter to the rebel Mac Coul.

Meanwhile, Arrah and Shaun have gotten married and a party is held in the barn, which culminates in Shaun singing "The Wearing of the Green". When a contingent of English soldiers arrives under the command of Major Coffin and accompanied by the O'Grady, Fanny and Feeney, Beamish, who had been hiding in the loft, escapes through a trapdoor in the roof. Arrah is forced to produce the money, but refuses to explain, even when evidence of Beamish's stay in the barn is found. Arrah is arrested. The first act ends with Shaun confessing to the robbery to save Arrah's life.

Believing Beamish to have been unfaithful to her, Fanny does not meet him at the appointed place for their wedding. Beamish learns what has happened and resolves to give himself up to the Secretary of State in Dublin and get Shaun and Arrah pardoned. Fanny again offers O'Grady her hand, this time on the condition that he will save Shaun's life.

Shaun is visited in prison by Fanny and Arrah. He learns the identity of the man Arrah was protecting, and rejoices to see his implicit trust in her vindicated, putting Fanny's lack of faith to shame. The climax of the second act is an uproarious court scene, during which the O'Grady unsuccessfully tries to convince the court of Shaun's innocence. Shaun is sentenced to death for conspiracy to rebellion and robbery.

In Act 3, the Secretary of State is visited by a succession of people on Shaun's behalf - Beamish Mac Coul, the O'Grady, and Fanny. Beamish and Shaun are pardoned, Beamish and Fanny reunited, and the O'Grady rushes off to prevent Shaun's execution. Meanwhile, Arrah has been refused permission to visit Shaun and has gone to the battlements above Shaun's cell from where she sings to him. Shaun manages to climb out of the window of his cell and begins to scale the sheer ivy covered wall to get to her. Feeny has followed Arrah, who rejects him again. He spots Shaun and threatens to raise the alarm; they struggle, Shaun reaches the top, and Feeny is thrown off the battlement. The O'Grady arrives with Shaun's pardon, and general happiness ensues.

Productions of Arrah-na-Pogue

production 1
Theatre Royal, Dublin, Leinster, Eire
7.11.1864

production 2
Princess's Theatre, Oxford Street, St. Marylebone, London, England
Royal Princess's Theatre, Oxford Street, St. Marylebone, London, England
22.3.1865

production 3
Niblo's Garden, 537 Broadway, New York, New York, United States of America
12.7.1865

production 4
The Tyne Theatre and Opera House, Newcastle, England
23.09.1867

production 5
Princess's Theatre, Oxford Street, St. Marylebone, London, England
Royal Princess's Theatre, Oxford Street, St. Marylebone, London, England
2.10.1867

production 6
Adelphi Theatre, Strand, Westminster, London, England
25.7.1885

production 7
Princess's Theatre, Oxford Street, St. Marylebone, London, England
Royal Princess's Theatre, Oxford Street, St. Marylebone, London, England 29.8.1891

production 8
St. Anthony's Theatre, Merchants' Quay, Dublin, Leinster, Eire
19.3.1957

production 9
Abbey Theatre, Lower Abbey Street, Dublin, Leinster, Eire
1971

production 10
Gate Theatre, Cavendish Row, Dublin, Leinster, Eire
18.12.1984

Related Material

Printed edition
De Witt edition, Pettingell Collection
Item number: 0590507

Typescript
Pettingell Collection
Item numbers: 0596967, 0596968

Printed edition
collection of character parts, Pettingell Collection
Item number: 0598878

Printed edition
P. J. Bourke edition, Calthrop Boucicault Collection
Item number: F190326

Printed edition
parody of Arrah-na-Pogue by Charles Adolphus Shelley, Pettingell Collection, titled Arrah-na-Brogue
Item number: 0595362

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Last Updated: 11/01/2018