Lennox Robinson (1886-1958) ‘Garden of Sleep’, on the Lost Graveyard of Courtaparteen between Sandycove and The Old Head of Kinsale.


Robinson, Lennox (1886–1958), playwright and director, was born Esmé Stuart Lennox Robinson on 4 October 1886 near Douglas, Co. Cork, youngest of seven children (of whom twins died in infancy) of Andrew Craig Robinson, stockbroker, and Emily Anna Robinson (née Jones). When Lennox was six years old his father took orders in the Church of Ireland and in 1895 moved his family to Kinsale, and thence in 1902 to the rectory in Ballymoney, west Cork. Owing to ill health, Lennox had little formal education, being tutored at home except for a couple of years spent at Bandon Grammar School up to 1904. At home he read widely, dabbled in music, and edited a family magazine, Contributions. On a visit to the Cork opera house (August 1907) Robinson was greatly influenced by the Abbey Theatre company, then on tour with ‘Cathleen Ni Houlihan’ by W. B. Yeats (qv) and ‘The rising of the moon’ by Lady Gregory (qv). Some months later Robinson wrote his first play for the Abbey, where he made his career.

In the 1920s Robinson tried to move beyond the conventional Abbey ‘peasant’ play into more middle-class, urban material. In ‘The big house’ (1926) he dealt with the theme of the Anglo-Irish caught up in the wars that ravaged his native Co. Cork from 1919 to 1923, and returned to the plight of unionists in southern Ireland in ‘Killycreggs in twilight’ (1937). Regrettably, neither of these plays was as popular as the lighter comedies such as ‘The whiteheaded boy’, ‘The far-off hills’ (1918), and ‘Drama at Inish’ (1933).