iPlayer Radio What's New?
Image for The Man with Many Names

Listen now 30 mins

Listen in pop-out player

Last on

Tue 4 Oct 2011 11:30 BBC Radio 4

Duration:
30 minutes
First broadcast:
Tuesday 04 October 2011

Brian O'Nolan he was born - or perhaps Brian O Nuallain if you want to be strictly accurate. He spoke Irish at home and learned English second (and German too); yet arguably his greatest work - the Third Policeman - is a tour de force of English linguistical pyrotechnics and Lewis Carroll-like absurdist exoticism - people turning into bicycles is par for the course.

He published his books as Flann O'Brien; he penned a must-read daily column in the Irish Times as Myles na gCopaleen and at various times in his short life wrote as George Knowall, John James Doe, Matt Duffy, Count O'Blather, Brother Barnabas and Sean O'Longain... But as Brian O'Nolan he was also a senior civil servant and adviser to government ministers, and his habit of retiring early to The Scotch House to consume many, many pints of plain, while tolerated for years ended up finishing his career. In fact 'the little weakness' as one contributor calls it finally cost O'Nolan his life.

To mark the centenary of O'Nolan's birth, Peter Day - a longtime Flann fan - travels to Dublin in search of the reality behind the multiple personas, and meets those who drank with him, supped with him at the family dinner table and have made careers out of studying him...

Producer: Simon Elmes.

Broadcasts

BBC © 2014 The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.

Added. Check out your playlist Dismiss