All the latest news from IFOBS!

New Flann O'Brien Publication
Call For Papers

Flann O'Brien & the Nonhuman:
Animals, Environments, Machines

eds. Katherine Ebury, Paul Fagan, John Greaney

Recent years have seen a remarkable rise in studies dedicated to the nonhuman turn in Irish literary and modernist contexts. Yet this proposed collection posits that the writing of Brian O’Nolan (pseud. Flann O’Brien, Myles na gCopaleen) constitutes a significant gap in these critical conversations. This is a body of writing acutely suited to the concerns of animal studies, ecocriticism, ecofeminism, object oriented ontology, cyborg theory and posthumanist approaches, but which remains conspicuous by its absence in these debates. This volume of essays addresses and corrects this critical lacuna.
    At first blush, readers might think of The Third Policeman’s uncanny landscapes and the 'monstrous exchange of tissue for metal' in the atomic hybridisation of people and bicycles; or of the cast of At Swim-Two-Birds, which includes the bird-man Sweeney, the Pooka MacPhellimey, and a cow who is called as a star witness in the author’s show trial. But this is an oeuvre in which conventional narratives of the human-nonhuman binary are troubled at all turns, whether in the author’s high modernist novels as Flann O’Brien, his newspaper columns, Irish-langauge work, and writing for stage, radio and television as Myles na gCopaleen, or his diverse short stories, non-fiction, and letters under an arsenal of pseudonyms and personae. For instance, in this broader canon we observe the brutal, rain-soaked landscapes, Irish-speaking pigs, and seals of An Béal Bocht; the protagonist’s strange metamorphosis into a train in ‘John Duffy’s Brother’; the columns’ recurrent concern with steam men, writing machines and pataphysical inventions; the donkey's tragedy in the late-career teleplay The Man with Four Legs; or Rhapsody in Stephen’s Green, O'Nolan's stage adaptation of Karel and Josef Čapek’s The Insect Play
    The editors invite proposals for chapters on all approaches to O’Nolan’s broader body of writing and its creative reception that are relevant to the volume’s themes, but are particularly interested in submissions that address:

• O’Nolan’s Animals
• O’Nolan’s Environments, Landscapes, and Ecologies
• O’Nolan and the Anthropocene
• O’Nolan’s Machines
• O'Nolan's Technologies
• Planes, Trains and Bicycles: O’Nolan’s Vehicles
• O’Nolan and the Posthuman
• O’Nolan and the Spectral
• O’Nolan and Nonhuman/Geological Time
• O’Nolan and Eco-Criticism/Eco-Feminism/Eco-Marxism
• Vibrant Matter: O’Nolan and Object Oriented Ontology
• Queering the Nonhuman in O’Nolan
• Gendered Animals, Environments, Machines in O'Nolan
• Agriculture, Food, and Eating Animals in O’Nolan
• Technologies of Clothing in O'Nolan
• Becoming-Animal in O’Nolan
• O’Nolan and the Gaze of the Animal
• O'Nolan and Biopolitics/Ecopolitics
• Fuel, Energy, Extraction, Consumption
• Coastlines, Islands, Archipelagos
• Urban Landscapes 

Please send bios and abstracts of no more than 500 words to,, and by 1 February 2020.  

Successful proposals will be invited to return a viable draft chapter of 6,000-7,000 words by 1 July 2020. 

Society Awards 2019
 And the winners are...

Best book length study 2017-18:
Maebh Long, The Collected Letters of Flann O'Brien (Dalkey Archive, 2018).

Best essay length study 2017-18:
Ronan Crowley, 'Phwat’s in a nam?: Brian O’Nolan as a Late Revivalist,' in Flann O’Brien: Problems with Authority (Cork UP, 2017), 119-135.

Congratulations Maebh and Ronan!

2019 Society Conference Website

Everyone at IFOBS HQ is so excited for Palimpsests: The 5th International Flann O'Brien Conference hosted by University College Dublin from 16-19 July 2019! Click the link below to buy your tickets to events (click "register") and for all details regarding the week's Programme, Keynote Speakers,Guest Writers & Social Events!

Flanntasmagoria: The Ever-Widening Spiral of Flann O'Brien

A unique immersive video and art installation experiencecreated by Donegal artists David, Edward and Joanna O’Kane. Also featuring an original typescript of The Third Policeman!

Boston College Ireland; 42-43 St. Stephen’s Green, Dublin
15-19 July, 10:00am-5:00pm
Free admission. All are welcome.
For further information, please call 353 (0)1 614 7450.

Conference Reception: Wednesday, 17 July, 6:30pm
#Flann2019 Conference delegates are warmly invited to Boston College Ireland for drinks & hors d’oeuvres, exhibition viewing, and programme with Blindboy Boatclub in conversation with Boston College professor and Joycestick virtual reality creator Joseph Nugent.

IFOBS Ombudsperson

We are thrilled to announce the appointment of Dr
Elaine Wood as the new International Flann O'Brien Society Ombudsperson!
      Dr Wood is a Lecturer of Women’s & Gender Studies affiliated with the Center for the Study of Race, Ethnicity & Gender at Bucknell University. Holding a PhD in English and Gender & Women’s Studies from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and a JD emphasis in Immigration Law from the University of Miami, her research and teaching interests in legal humanities discourses focus on theoretical practices and linguistic representations of intersectionality. Prior to her academic appointment at Bucknell, she served as a law clerk for the United States Department of Justice.


Society Awards 2019

Every two years, to coincide with the International Flann O’Brien Society conference, the Society awards two official prizes to the best book-length publication and best essay-length publication on a Brian O’Nolan This year's shortlisted candidates for The Father Kurt Fahrt, S.J. Memorial Prizes, as nominated by the members of the International Flann O'Brien Society.
Best book-length publication
Ruben Borg, Paul Fagan, and John McCourt (eds), Flann O’Brien: Problems with Authority
Daniel Curran and Eimear Thornton (eds), The Parish Review: Journal of Flann O’Brien StudiesAn Béal Bocht at 75 (Spring 2018).
Maebh Long (ed.), The Collected Letters of Flann O’Brien (Dalkey Archive Press, 2018).
(Cork University Press, 2017). 4, no. 1, Special Issue:

Best article-length publication
Ronan Crowley, 'Phwat’s in a nam?: Brian O’Nolan as a Late Revivalist,’ in Borg, Fagan, and McCourt (eds), 119–135.
Catherine Flynn, ‘“the half-said thing”: Cruiskeen Lawn, Japan and the Second World War,’ in Borg, Fagan, and McCourt (eds), 71–86.
Keith Hopper, ‘“Silent, so to speak’: Flann O’Brien and the Sense of an Ending,’ in Michael McAteer (ed.), Silence in Modern Irish Literature (Leiden: Brill Rodopi, 2017), 177–187.
Yael Levin, ‘Who Hobbles after the Subject: Parables of Writing in The Third Policeman and Molloy,’ Journal of Modern Literature vol. 40, no. 4 (Summer 2017): 105–121.
Pádraig Ó Méalóid,‘The Hunting of the Flann or Now We Know How Many Holes It Takes to Fill the Irish Times: A Cautionary Tale,’ Dublin Diversion (2018).
Anna Teekell, ‘Unreadable Books, Unspeakable Worlds: Beckett and O’Brien in Purgatory’, Emergency Writing: Irish Literature, Neutrality, and the Second World War (Northwestern University Press, 2018), 159–204.

The winners will be chosen by an impartial panel of judges from outside of the society and announced at the closing dinner of the 2019 conference in Dublin on 19 July - best of luck!

IFOBS International Conference 2019

Conference Details & Call for Papers
The International Flann O’Brien Society is proud to announce Palimpsests: The V International Flann O’Brien Conference, 16-19 July 2019, hosted by the University College Dublin, Newman House and the Museum of Literature Ireland (MoLI) in cooperation with The International Flann O'Brien Society.

 Call for Papers now closed!
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Keynote Speakers

Louis de Paor is Director of the Centre for Irish Studies at the National University of Ireland, Galway. His published works include Faoin mBlaoisc Bheag Sin (1991), a study of the short fiction of Máirtín Ó Cadhain, critical editions of the poems of Máire Mhac an tSaoi, Liam S. Gógan and Michael Davitt, and a bilingual anthology of 20th-century poetry in Irish, Leabhar na hAthghabhála: Poems of Repossession (2016). He has been a Visiting Professor at Boston College, New York University and the University of California, Berkeley. He published an article on "Brian Ó Nualláin’s Engagement with Early Irish Literature" in the 2017 edited collection Flann O'Brien: Problems with Authority and is currently working on a monograph on the Irish language element in the work of Flann O’Brien.

Katherine Ebury is Senior Lecturer in Modern Literature at the University of Sheffield. Her research interests include life-writing, modernism, psychoanalysis, literature and science, animal studies and law and literature, as well as groundbreaking articles on Flann O'Brien, science writing & the death penalty in Flann O'Brien: Problems with Authority (2017) and Flann O'Brien: Gallows Humour (forthcoming). Her first monograph, Modernism and Cosmology, appeared in 2014, and she is the co-editor (with Dr James Alexander Fraser) of Joyce's Non-Fiction Writings: Outside His Jurisfiction, which appeared with Palgrave in 2018. Her articles have appeared in journals such as Irish Studies Review, Joyce Studies Annual, Journal of Modern Literature and Society and Animals. She has just commenced an AHRC-funded project on the death penalty, literature and psychoanalysis from 1900-1950, which is running from 2018-2020.

Maebh Long is a Senior Lecturer at the University of Waikato, New Zealand. Her areas of interest include modernist and contemporary literature and culture in Ireland, Britain, and Oceania, as well as literary theory and continental philosophy. She has published widely on Brian O’Nolan/Flann O’Brien and on Jacques Derrida, and is the author of the award-winning Assembling Flann O’Brien (London: Bloomsbury, 2014). Her edited edition of the letters of Brian O’Nolan has just been published by Dalkey Archive Press as The Collected Letters of Flann O’Brien. She is also in the early stages of a new monograph, entitled The Poetics of Immunology and is co-investigator of the Oceanic Modernism project, which reads post-1960s independence and indigenous rights literature from the Pacific as a form of modernism.

Erika Mihálycsa lectures on 20th and 21st century British and Irish literature at Babes-Bolyai University, Cluj, Romania. She has mainly published on Joyce's and Beckett's language poetics, Joyce in translation, Beckett and the visual arts, as well as in the field of Modernism studies, Flann O'Brien, and translation studies. He rmonograph, Trans-lating Modernism: Languages of Passage in the Fiction of Joyce, Flann O'Brien, Beckett appeared in 2016. Her articles and reviews have come out to date in Word and Image, James Joyce Quarterly, European Joyce Studies, Joyce Studies Annual, Italian Joyce Studies, Textual Practice, as well as in numerous edited volumes. Together with Rainer J. Hanshe she edits the biannual online journal HYPERION, issued by Contra Mundum Press (New York), a press specializing in international modernist and contemporary experimental writing, philosophy, film and art. She is an active literary translator from/into Hungarian/English, having translated texts by Beckett, Anne Carson, Julian Barnes, George Orwell, Patrick McCabe, Medbh McGuckian, and others into Hungarian, and a handful of contemporary Hungarian authors into English. She is the co-translator of
Úszikkétmadáron, the Hungarian translation of Flann O'Brien's At Swim-Two-Birds.

Guest Writers, Readers & Artists

Blindboy Boatclub is an acclaimed Irish musician (in The Rubberbandits with Mr Chrome), author (The Gospel According to Blindboy), television writer and performer with RTÉ, MTV, Channel 4 and ITV2 (Rubberbandits' Guide to Everything, Republic of Telly, The Almost Impossible Gameshow) cultural critic and podcaster (The Blindboy Podcast). His 2017 collection of short stories The Gospel According to Blindboy, has been widely praised and compared to the "postestmodernism absurdity" of Flann O'Brien. (Blindboy joins the conference line-up as the guest of Boston College, Ireland)
Anne Enright's short stories have appeared in several magazines including The New Yorker and The Paris Review, and she won the 2004 Davy Byrnes Irish Writing Award for her short story, "Honey". Her short story collection, The Portable Virgin was published in 1991, and won the Rooney Prize for Irish Literature. Two collections of stories, Taking Pictures and Yesterday's Weather were published in 2008. Her novels are The Wig My Father Wore (1995), shortlisted for the Irish Times/Aer Lingus Irish Literature Prize; What Are You Like? about twins separated at birth who meet when they are 25, winner of the 2001 Encore Award and shortlisted for the 2000 Whitbread Novel Award; The Pleasure of Eliza Lynch (2002); The Gathering (2007) about a large Irish family gathering for the funeral of a wayward brother which won the 2007 Man Booker Prize for Fiction; and The Forgotten Waltz (2011). Her most recent novel is The Green Road (2015), which won the Irish Novel of the Year.  Enright has also published a book of humorous essays, Making Babies: Stumbling into Motherhood (2004). She lives in Ireland.

Playwright and novelist Patrick McCabe's short story "The Call" won the Irish Press Hennessy Award. He is the author of several novels, including Carn (1989), The Butcher Boy (1992), which won the Irish Times Irish Literature Prize for Fiction; The Dead School (1995); and Breakfast on Pluto (1998). The Butcher Boy and Breakfast on Pluto were both shortlisted for the Booker Prize for Fiction. His subsequent novels are Emerald Germs of Ireland (2001); Call Me the Breeze (2003); Winterwood published in 2006 and named the 2007 Hughes & Hughes/Irish Independent Irish Novel of the Year; The Holy City (2008); Stray Sod Country (2010); and Hello and Goodbye (2013). He is also the author of a children's book, The Adventures of Shay Mouse (1985), and a collection of linked short stories, Mondo Desperado (1999). His play Frank Pig Says Hello, which he adapted from The Butcher Boy, was first performed at the Dublin Theatre Festival in 1992. A film adaptation of The Butcher Boy directed by Neil Jordan was first screened in 1996. His short stories have been published in The Irish Times and the Cork Examiner and his work has been broadcast by RTÉ in Ireland and the BBC.

Lisa McInerney's debut novel, The Glorious Heresies, was published in April 2015 and won the Baileys Women's Prize for Fiction and the Desmond Elliott Prize in 2016. Her second novel, The Blood Miracles, received the Royal Society of Literature’s Encore Award in 2018.

David O'Kane is an award-winning Irish artist whose work has been exhibited all over the world. His short film Babble, which stages a multilingual conversation between Flann O’Brien, Franz Kafka and Jorge Luis Borges, won an e v + a open award (2008) from Hou Hanru, 2008. A still from his animated artwork Dieselbe Noman adorned the inaugural issue of The Parish Review: Journal of Flann O'Brien Studies and his work can be seen on the cover images of Flann O'Brien: Plays and Teleplays (2013), Flann O'Brien: Contesting Legacies (2014), and Flann O'Brien: Problems with Authority (2017). In addition to receiving the R.C. Lewis-Crosby Award at the Royal Dublin Society (2006), O’Kane has been awarded residencies at the British School at Rome (2009), the Stiftung Starke in Berlin (2010–13) and the Fire Station Artists Studios in Dublin (2014–17).

Joanna Walsh is the author of seven books including the digital work, Her latest book, Break.up, is published by Semiotext(e) and Tuskar Rock. Her writing has been widely published in anthologies, newspapers and journals including The Dalkey Archive's Best European Fiction, Granta Magazine, The Guardian, The New Statesman, and The Los Angeles Review of Books. She is a UK Arts Foundation fellow, contributing editor at 3:AM Magazine, and the founder of #readwomen, described by the New York Times as "a rallying cry for equal treatment for women writers". She is a current PhD candidate in Creative and Critical Writing at the University of East Anglia..

In Collaboration with Boston College, Ireland

Across the week of Palimpsests: V International Flann O'Brien Conference (16-19 July 2019), Boston College Ireland in St Stephen's Green will host an exhibition of Flann-related art works by David, Eddie and Joanna O'Kane alongside items from the holdings of the Special "Flann O'Brien Collection" at the John J. Burns Library, Boston College. On the evening of Wednesday 17 July, BC Ireland will host a reception for conference attendees, where they will be treated to a performance featuring Blindboy Boatclub (The Rubberbandits, The Gospel According to Blindboy).

V International Flann O'Brien Conference

2nd Call for Papers
Revised Submission Date: 1 April 2019

"Shanahan at this point inserted a brown tobacco finger in the texture of the story and in this manner caused a lacuna in the palimpsest"
At Swim-Two-Birds (1939), Flann O'Brien

Paper and panel proposals are invited for Palimpsests: V International Flann O'Brien Society Conference, 16-19 July 2019, University College Dublin, Newman House and
the Museum of Literature Ireland (MoLI).

After hugely successful conferences in Vienna, Rome, Prague, and Salzburg, the 2019 International Flann O'Brien Conference series comes to Flann O'Brien's alma mater University College Dublin, where he wrote his MA thesis on Medieval Irish Nature Poetry. The Dublin setting of the 5th conference in the series is also apt, given that 2019 marks the 80th anniversary of 
his UCD novel At Swim-Two-Birds.

In his 1939 essay "When Fiction Lives in Fiction", Jorge Louis Borges praises Flann O'Brien's At Swim-Two-Birds 
as a "verbal labyrinth", in the tradition of The Thousand and One Nights, Hamlet and The Golem, that discusses "the many ways to conceive of the Irish novel and a repertory of exercises in prose and verse which illustrate or parody all the styles of Ireland." Graham Greene highlights a similar aspect of At Swim-Two-Birds in his reader’s report for Longman, noting that "its amazing spirits do not disguise the seriousness of the attempt to present, simultaneously as it were, all the literary traditions of Ireland." From its earliest reception, then, O'Brien's work has been understood as a form of palimpsest: a piece of writing on top of a reused or altered artifact still bearing visible traces of its earlier texts and forms...

Under the theme of "Palimpsests" this conference proposes to revisit and discuss the embedded fictions, verbal labyrinths, and contested legacies of O'Brien's broader oeuvre of novels, columns, short fiction, theatre plays, television/radio scripts,
non-fiction, and correspondence (collected for the first time in Maebh Long's 2018 Collected Letters of Flann O'Brien). The time is ripe for such a focus on the author's expanding canon: even as new collections and reprints of O'Brien's major and minor works have granted us new access to his broader canon and its archives in Boston and beyond, the uptick of critical studies dedicated to the author have expanded our understanding of O'Brien's wide-ranging reading, influence, and allusions. With these anniversaries and resonances in mind, the conference's theme invites us to rethink the roles of metafiction, allusion, influence, rewriting, collage, adaptation, translation, annotation, marginalia, forgery, and (self-)plagiarism in O'Brien's art.

The organisers welcome submissions on any topic, but are particularly interested in proposals that address any of the following themes:

        🚲 At Swim-Two-Birds: "When Fiction Lives in Fiction"
        🚲 Myles en abyme: O'Brien and the Art of Rewriting/Overwriting/Collage
        🚲 Cross References: Intertextuality, Reference, Quotation, Allusion, Hypertext
🚲 Writing at the Margins: Annotations, Footnotes, Marginalia, Notetaking
        🚲 Archive Fever: O'Brien in/and the Archive
        🚲 Faux Eruditon: False Documents, Forged Signatures, (Self-)Plagiarism
        🚲 Untranslatable: Translations by/of O'Brien; O’Brien & the Irish language 
        🚲 Creative Receptions: Adaptations of O’Brien’s Work in Diverse Media
        🚲 Correspondences: The Collected Letters of Flann O'Brien
        🚲 Mail Egos: Flann O'Brien & Gender
        🚲 Bodies of Writing: Flann O'Brien, Sexuality, & Desire
🚲 Alma Matters: O'Nolan at/on U.C.D. (Comhthrom Féinne; Blather; O'Nolan's MA Thesis on Medieval Irish Nature Poetry; the L&H Society, etc.)
🚲 At Swim-Two-Birds as Campus Novel
🚲 Bookworms: Scholarship, Learning and Study; the University as Institution
🚲 Influences and Legacies: Flann O’Brien and the Irish Tradition/International Intertexts/Contemporary Fiction
🚲 Sacred Texts & Contested Legacies: The Maintenance/Destruction of Myth; Mixing Traditions, Languages, Genres
🚲 Problematizing the Character/Problematizing the Author
Narratology & Form: Experimentation/Metafiction/Realism/Non-fiction
🚲 Intermedial Flann: Transgressing the Limits of the Book, the Newspaper, the Magazine, the Stage, the Airwaves, the Screen, the Canvas.
🚲 Local Boy in the Paper: O’Brien and Dublin
🚲 "Piously forged palimpsests": O'Brien & Joyce
🚲 O'Brien's Peers: O'Brien and the Dublin Writing Scene (R.M. Smyllie, Denis Devlin, Brian Coffey, Niall Sheridan, Niall Montgomery, Patrick Kavanagh, Brendan Behan, Cyril Cusack, Donagh MacDonagh, John Ryan, Brinsley MacNamara, Lennox Robinson, Jimmy O'Dea, Hugh Leonard, et al.)
🚲 The Brothers: Brian, Micheál, Caoimhín (Kevin) Ó Nualláin & Family Style
🚲 Flann O'Brien/Myles na gCopaleen et al. across institutional categories: Irish/World literature, Antiquarianism, Revivalism, Realism, (Irish) Modernism, Post-Modernism, Post-Colonialism, etc.

Abstracts and Submissions
If you would like to propose a paper (not exceeding 20 minutes), or panel (maximum 3 speakers) please submit your title and an abstract of 250 words, along with a short bionote, to the organisers at by Monday 1 April 2019.

Host Organising Committee
Anne Fogarty
John Greaney
Scott Hamilton

Further Details
Watch this space for further announcements concerning the Call For Papers, Speakers, Guest Writers, Performers and more!

Also, follow the conference 
on Facebook, on Twitter @2019Flann and under the hashtag #Flann2019.

2019 Boston College Day Conference
"Joyce & Flann: An Insoluble Pancake"

Flann & Joyce: An Insoluble Pancake
30 March 2019, Boston College

A day-long conference at Boston College with speakers Catherine Flynn (UC Berkeley),
Richard Kearney (Boston College), Thomas O'Grady (UMass Boston), Fintan O'Toole (The Irish Times), and Joseph Valente (University of Buffalo).

This event is free and open to the public, but please register in advance with to let the organisers know you'll attend.

The Parish Review:
Journal of Flann O'Brien Studies

Issue 4.1 (Spring 2018) out now!

We are proud to bring you the latest issue of The Parish Review: Journal of Flann O'Brien Studies. Guest-edited by Daniel Curran and Eimear Thornton (Maynooth University), The Parish Review 4.1 (Spring 2018) is a special peer-reviewed issue dedicated to An Béal Bocht at 75. It boasts innovative and nuanced articles on this theme by Irish-language scholars, experts, and Mylesians Breandán Ó Conaire, Gregory Darwin, Radvan Markus, and Brian Ó Conchubhair. In line with this focus on his Irish-language writing, the issue also reproduces ‘Pisa Bec Oc Parnabus’, Brian O’Nolan’s experimental and parodic 1930s take on James Joyce's Work in Progress, alongside its first full English-language translation, courtesy of Tobias Harris, John Wyse Jackson, Thomas O’Donnell.

We are delighted also to present Maebh Long’s review of Christine O’Neill’s Niall Montgomery: Dublinman and Tom Dillon’s review of Jack Fennell’s Irish Science Fiction. Further features include conference reports by Yaeli Greenblatt on Acting Out: IV International Flann O’Brien Conference (Salzburg 2017) and Lloyd (Meadhbh) Houston on Irish Modernisms: Gaps, Conjectures, Possibilities (Vienna 2016), alongside Tobias Harris's dispatch from #Flann50 in London. Elsewhere, the winners of the society awards (the world-renowned Fahrts) are announced, we collect our usual letters to the editor, Frank McNally reflects on the legacy of Micheál Ó Nualláin and Bruce Stewart writes in memory of Anthony Cronin.

IFOBS International Conference 2017

Second and Final Call For Papers [NOW CLOSED]

Send abstracts to by 5 March 2017

Reduced rate Accommodation!
We have secured a number of reduced rate accommodation places for our delegates throughout the week of the conference - make sure to contact us ASAP while availability lasts!

2017 Speakers, writers, performers, artists
(More to be announced...!)

Call For Papers

The International Flann O’Brien Society is proud to announce Acting Out: The IV International Flann O’Brien Conference, an international conference on the theme of performance, theatricality, and illusion in Flann O’Brien’s writing, hosted by the Department of English Studies at Salzburg University, 17-21 July 2017.
        In recent years O’Brien’s writing has been foregrounded as an integral site for testing the rise of new modernist studies, as it troubles critical commonplaces about modernism itself by virtue of its ephemerality and parochial energies. Recent publications of out-of-print English and Irish-language columns, short stories, non-fiction, dramatic works for the stage, and teleplays for Raidió Teilifís Éireann have not only made O’Brien’s broader canon accessible to a new generation of scholars, but have also highlighted its importance to an understanding of modernism which ‘has grown more capacious, turning its attention to previously neglected forms’ (Rónán McDonald and Julian Murphet).
        Germane to these critical projects is the recurring concern with performance, theatricality, and illusion in O’Brien’s prose, columns, plays, correspondence, and TV scripts. In establishing his (highly ironised) aesthetic manifesto in At Swim-Two-Birds, the student narrator notes that ‘the novel was inferior to the play inasmuch as it lacked the outward accidents of illusion, frequently inducing the reader to be outwitted in a shabby fashion and caused to experience a real concern for the fortunes of illusory characters.’ If, as Richard Schechner claims, ‘performances mark identities, bend time, reshape and adorn the body, and tell stories’, then few writers better demonstrate this shaping influence and potential of the performative and the fake.
        This dynamic of O’Brien’s work has become all the more visible with the marked rise of creative adaptations of his writing for the stage and beyond. Building on the precedent of pioneering O’Brien performers such as Jimmy O’Dea, David Kelly, and Eamon Morrissey, recent years have seen numerous creative engagements with O’Brien’s work for the stage (Blue Raincoat’s adaptations of O’Brien’s major novels, Arthur Riordan’s Improbable Frequency and Slattery’s Sago Saga, Ergo Phizmiz’s electronic-1920s-Vaudeville adaptation of The Third Policeman, Stephen Rea’s musical dramatic reading of same), film (Kurt Palm’s In Schwimmen-Zwei-Vögel, Park Films’ John Duffy’s Brother and The Martyr’s Crown) and the visual arts (Ralph Steadman's Flann illustrations, John McCloskey’s graphic novel of An Béal Bocht, Micheál Ó Nualláin's paintings, David O’Kane’s stunning O’Brien artworks). As well as demonstrating the significant weight O’Brien’s writing continues to carry in the present cultural moment, these adaptations emphasise its sustained creative dimensions and dramatic energies.
        With these issues in mind, the conference aims to address the contours and concealments of performance in Flann O’Brien’s work as it relates to issues of identity, genre, pseudonymity, adaptation, and creative reception. Salzburg is the home of numerous internationally renowned and prestigious theatrical institutions and events, providing the perfect setting to this symposium, which will take place at the outset of the 2017 Salzburger Festspiele (Salzburg Music and Drama Festival).

The organisers invite proposals on any aspect of O’Brien’s writing, but are especially interested in papers that explore questions of performance, theatricality, and illusion in O’Brien’s prose, columns, plays, correspondence, and TV scripts, including, but not limited to:

Becoming Other: Masks, Pseudonyms, Role-Playing in O’Brien
(Mis)Leading Men: Gender Performativity in O’Brien
Props/Performing Objects: The life of objects / Object as metaphor
The outward accidents of illusion: Sartorial style, costumes, outfits & uniforms in O’Brien
Transmedialisation: Music, Performing Arts, Visual Arts, Illustration, Animation, Film
Come to your Senses: Sight, Sound, Smell, Touch, Taste in O’Brien
Comic & Tragic Passions: O’Brien & Genre
Puppets and Puppet-Masters: Agency, Post-Humanism; Author vs. The Authored
Creativity: Playing by ear vs. learning by heart
Culture’s Scripts: Secular and Sacred Rituals
Dumb play: Playing dumb
O’Brien and the Theatre in Irish, European, & Modernist contexts (The Abbey, The Gate, The Čapeks, Pirandello, Lord Dunsany, modernist anti-theatricality, William Saroyan, etc.)
Creative Receptions / Adaptations of O’Brien’s work

Abstracts and Submissions
If you would like to propose a paper (not exceeding 20 minutes), or panel (maximum 3 speakers) please submit your title and an abstract of 250 words accompanied by a short biographical sketch to or by 5 March 2017.
     Given the conference’s theme, the organisers also welcome alternative forms of presentation and dialogue, such as roundtables, workshops, debate motions (and debaters), performances, creative responses to Flann O’Brien’s writing, etc.

For more details as they emerge, including social programmes and accommodation & travel details follow us on Twitter.

Organising Committee
Sabine Coelsch-Foisner (Salzburg University)
Paul Fagan (Salzburg University/
University of Vienna)
Dieter Fuchs (University of Vienna)
Ruben Borg (Hebrew University of Jerusalem)

The Parish Review:
Journal of Flann O'Brien Studies

Issue 3.2 (Spring 2016) out now!

The International Flann O'Brien Society is proud to bring you the latest issue of The Parish Review.

Guest-edited by Jack Fennell (The Short Fiction of Flann O’Brien, Irish Science Fiction), The Parish Review 3.2 is a special peer-reviewed issue dedicated to the theme of "Flann O’Brien & the Culture Industry".The number boasts articles by Tobias Harris, Susanne Hillman, Joseph LaBine, and Thomas Jackson Rice, as well as Alana Gillespie’s review of a new Flann O’Brien monograph by Flore Coulouma and Tamara Radak's report from the 2015 Society conference in Prague. Two notes on the ongoing #Flann50 celebrations capture the festive mood in the Flann community, with Eimear Ní Dhroighneáin and Daniel Curran reporting from a bilingual symposium in Maynooth University and Catherine Ahearn from the boisterous Myles Day celebrations in the Palace Bar. 

The issue includes two Calls for Papers: one for a special issue of The Parish Review to mark the 75th anniversary of An Béal Bocht and one for the 2017 Society conference on the theme of performance, theatricality, and illusion in Brian O'Nolan’s writing, to be hosted by the Department of English Studies at Salzburg University in 2017. We look forward to hearing from you, and to the opportunity for further encounters and exchanges in Salzburg.

To sign up for your free copy, email us at

Society Awards 2015
 And the winners are...

Best book length study on a Brian O’Nolan theme, 2013-14:
Maebh Long, Assembling Flann O'Brien (London: Bloomsbury, 2014).

Best essay length study on a Brian O’Nolan theme, 2013-14:
Jack Fennell, ‘Irelands Enough and Time: Brian O’Nolan’s Science Fiction', in Flann O’Brien: Contesting Legacies, Ruben Borg, Paul Fagan, Werner Huber (eds) (Cork: Cork University Press, 2014), pp. 33-45.

Congratulations Maebh and Jack!

IFOBS Conference 2015 Registration

Metamorphoses: The III International Flann O’Brien Conference

Charles University, Prague, 16-19 September 2015

Early Bird Registration Rates
15 June 2015!

Offical conference website now open!

Click through to register for the conference, and find details on keynote speakers, academic and social programmes (forthcoming), and accommodation in Prague.

Guest Writer Kevin BarryKeynote Speaker Joseph BrookerKeynote Speaker Catherine Flynn
The Parish Review:
Journl of Flann O'Brien Studies
Issue 3.1 out September 2014!

Guest-edited by Adam Winstanley (University of York) and Catherine Ahearn (Boston University), The Parish Review 3.1 is a special issue dedicated to the theme of "Reading Brian O'Nolan's Libraries".

The essays collected herein represent the Flann O'Brien community's first attempts to sort through, and contemplate the significance of, Brian O'Nolan's personal library held in the John J. Burns Library at Boston College. As well as articles dedicated to this theme by Paul Fagan, Andrew V. McFeaters, Roibeard Ó Cadhla, and Jack Fennell, the issue also contains an extensive interview with Micheál Ó Nualláin by Johanna Marquardt on the subject of O’Nolan’s library and his reading habits.Other items include Ronan Crowley's review of Flann O'Brien & Modernism and Arthur Rose's review of Flann O'Brien: Contesting Legacies, as well as a full
2013-14 O'Nolan checklist.

To sign up for your free copy, email us at

Society Awards 2015
Dear friends and members of the International Flann O'Brien Society,

Every two years, to coincide with the International Flann O’Brien Society conference, the Society assigns two official prizes to the best book-length publication and best essay-length publication on a Flann O’Brien theme. It is time for all Flanneurs and Mylesians to exercise their democratic muscle again, and vote for the best works of scholarshipon Brian O’Nolan for 2013-2014.

The selection process for this year's Father Kurt Fahrt, S.J. Memorial Prizes (or, as our members affectionately term them, "the Fahrts") will follow the same format as the first edition. Shortlists for each category (‘big Fahrt’ and ‘small Fahrt’) will be determined by a popular electronic vote: deadline 16 June 2015. The winners will then be chosen from this shortlist by an impartial judge appointed from outside the Society.

However, to ensure the judges’ fair and total impartiality, this time we will be handing the running of the voting process, in toto, over to lastyear’s ‘Small Fahrt’ winner Jon Day (King’s College London, pictured left). Jon has been directed to receive and tally the votes (, and secure an undisclosed judge to appoint awinner from the shortlists. He is under strict instructions not to revealthe winners to anybody – even we won’t know the results until they areannounced at Metamorphoses: The III International Flann O’Brien Conference (Charles University, Prague, 16-19 September 2015)!

And so without further ado we are pleased to invite you all to submit yournominations to the jury ( by no later than
16 June 2015! May the best Flanneur win!

The rules:
Each member of the International Flann O’Brien Society may nominate up to three titles in any category (two books and one article; three articles;three books; etc. ... any combination works). Scholars may nominate theirown work.

Eligible works: All works of scholarship on Brian O’Nolan and his writing copyrighted in2013-2014 are eligible - if in doubt please consult the 2013-14 checklist in the forthcoming issue of The Parish Review (3.1), or the IFOBS Brian O’Nolan Bibliography.

A brief history of the Awards:
The International Flann O’Brien Society assigns two official prizes in honour of Father Kurt Fahrt, S.J. The prizes are awarded to the best book-length publication, and best essay-length publication on a FlannO’Brien theme. Recipients of the first Fahrts (2011-12) were:

Best book length study on a Brian O’Nolan theme (‘big Fahrt’):
— Neil Murphy and Keith Hopper (eds), Flann O’Brien: Centenary Essays. Special Issue of The Review of Contemporary Fiction 31, no. 3 (Fall2011).

Best essay length study on a Brian O’Nolan theme (‘small Fahrt’):
— Jon Day, ‘Cuttings from Cruiskeen Lawn: Bibliographical Issues in the Republication of Myles na gCopaleen’s Journalism’, in Jennika Baines(ed.), ‘Is it about a bicycle?’: Flann O’Brien in the Twenty-First Century (Dublin: Four Courts, 2011), 32-48.

This year’s awards ceremony will occur at the at The III InternationalFlann O’Brien Conference,  which is to take place at the CharlesUniversity, Prague, from 16-19 September 2015. See below.

IFOBS Conference 2015

Call For Papers

The III International Flann O’Brien Conference

Charles University, Prague, 16-19 September 2015

Keynote Speakers
Joseph Brooker (Birkbeck, University of London)
Catherine Flynn (University of California, Berkeley)
Brian Ó Conchubhair (University of Notre Dame)

Guest Writer
Kevin Barry
(City of Bohane; winner of the 2013 International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award)

Written at a time of profound transformation in post-independence Ireland and war-torn Europe, and displaying an acute awareness of the epochal changes bearing on modern notions of literature and the self, Flann O’Brien’s œuvre offers a sustained engagement with the representation of cultural, political, and personal metamorphosis. This is a body of writing in which the human always bears the potential to be radically remade in the forms of horses, bicycles, and trains; in which genre, language, and literary form are constantly reorganised and refashioned; in which a programme of pseudonymity presents the comic writer as a master of disguise and identity as a matter of constant flux.

At Metamorphoses: The III International Flann O’Brien Conference (Charles University, Prague, 16-19 September 2015), the organisers propose to build on the current sea change in O’Brien studies to foster a scholarly and critical debate dedicated to these themes of metamorphosis in the writer’s work. At stake throughout these debates will be the ways in which O’Brien’s English and Irish language novels, short stories, column-writing, non-fiction, teleplays, theatrical work, and archive:

• Engage and transform literary, cultural, political, and economic upheaval at home &

• Test the limits and possibilities of the transformed body as a site for negotiating
  problems of identity through tropes such as drinking, sport, prosthetics, hybridity,
  biopower, post-humanity, &c.;

• Are transformed in the acts of reception, rewriting, translation, & adaptation, or by
  genetic analysis via his vast collections of under-analysed ‘works in progress’
  (manuscripts, drafts, correspondence);

• Process radical paradigm shifts in the sciences, from Darwinian evolution theory to the
  ‘Mollycule Theory’ of quantum physics;

• Explore (anti-)modernist reconstructions of myth, whether Irish or Ovidian; 

• Attend to linguistic, generic, & formal mutations, as well as the resonances between 

   metamorphosis, metaphor, & metafiction; 

• Provide sites for revisiting anew O’Nolan’s encounters and engagements with the Irish
   Literary Revival and other Irish writing from the canonical to the marginalised;

• Are amenable to new comparative readings with Prague’s sons Franz Kafka and Karel
   Čapek, as well as other modernist writers and movements of transformation, from
   Jarry & Joyce, Borges & Beckett, to the Absurdists, Futurists, & Surrealists. 

Abstracts: If you would like to propose a paper (not exceeding 20 minutes), or panel (maximum 3 speakers) please submit your title and an abstract of 250 words accompanied by a short biographical sketch to by 1 April 2015.

Ondřej Pilný (Charles University, Prague)
Paul Fagan (University of Vienna)
Ruben Borg (Hebrew University of Jerusalem)

Flann O'Brien Book Launch
New collection from organisers of 100 Myles

Recently published and successfully launched: Flann O'Brien: Contesting Legacies is an exciting new volume of essays on Flann O'Brien, Myles na gCopaleen, et al, edited by Ruben Borg, Paul Fagan, & Werner Huber.

Testing popular commonplaces about this undervalued author, the volume offers overdue attention to Flann O'Brien's overlooked short stories, plays, & non-fiction writing while exploring his linguistic inventiveness, his gender politics,  his ideology of science, & his treatment of the themes of nationalism, Gaeldom, & justice.

With contributions by Keith Hopper, Jack Fennell, Marion Quirici, Paul Fagan, Thierry Robin, Ute Anna Mittermaier, John McCourt, Tom Walker, Neil Murphy, Ondrej Pilny, Alana Gillespie, Maebh Long, Thomas Jackson Rice, and Jennika Baines, this collection once and for all reveals as outdated prejudice the dismissal of O'Brien's talent as a matter of local interest.

Copies for libraries or personal purchase can be ordered here.

The Parish Review:
Journal of Flann O'Brien Studies
Issue 2.2 out September 2014!

IFOBS members have received the latest issue of The Parish Review, with articles, reviews, & Myles columns unseen in decades!

The Parish Review 2.2 (Spring 2014) republishes, for the first time in a generation, Brian O'Nolan's complete contributions (columns, letters, and mock-reviews) to the short-lived journal Kavanagh’s Weekly.

The issue is guest-edited by Gerry Smyth (Liverpool John Moores University), who has assembled renowned Mylesians John Wyse Jackson (Myles Before Myles), Frank McNally (An Irishman's Diary), and Joseph Brooker (Flann O'Brien) for their considered insights into this rare material, as they reframe O'Nolan's troubled relationship with Patrick Kavanagh and investigate this oft-overlooked period of O’Nolan’s writing career.

The issue also boasts interviews with artists Michael O’Shaughnessy and Eddie O'Kane, as well as Katherine Ebury's review of Assembling Flann O’Brien (Maebh Long) and Alana Gillespie's review of Flann O’Brien: Plays & Teleplays (ed. Daniel Keith Jernigan) ... not to mention the usual round up of news, views and CFPs from the world of O'Nolan scholarship in The Parish Bulletin.

To sign up for your free copy, email us at

The Parish Review 2015
Call For Papers

‘Flann O’Brien and the Culture Industry’
The Parish Review

The journal of the International Flann O’Brien Society

As a writer who straddled the divide between modernism and postmodernism, Flann O’Brien appears to have had an ambivalent relationship to Western popular culture, veering from an almost Frankfurt School-type abhorrence of mass culture to gleeful postmodern experimentation with form, genre, and intertextuality. In At Swim-Two-Birds we find fictional characters rebelling against the plots into which they are forced by their author – lurid, sensationalist stories that the characters resent being part of – and various popular signifiers/signifieds are lampooned, most notably cowboy stories and the politicised imagery of Irish heroic myth. Under the guise of Myles Na gCopaleen, he played the part of a snob, not only mocking the vulgar tastes of the Plain People of Ireland, but also cocking a snook at the pretensions of Dublin’s literati. At the same time, Cruiskeen Lawn was filled with Myles’s take on aspects of popular culture, from badly-worded advertisements to the films of Walt Disney, Warner Brothers, and Fritz Lang.

As Flann looked into the abyss of popular culture, that abyss also looked back into him.  Sly references to Flann’s corpus abound: The Third Policeman’s Parish appears in the appendix of Volume II of Alan Moore’s The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen (as a strange place visited by the series’ protagonists, along with Laputa and King Solomon’s Mines); Professor de Selby is mentioned, appropriately enough, in numerous science fiction texts (often in footnote form), and, of course, there is the appearance of a copy of The Third Policeman on an episode of the ABC TV series Lost.

A forthcoming peer-reviewed issue of The Parish Review (Spring 2015) will seek to expand upon the research already undertaken into the issues of influence and context in Flann O’Brien’s work. Rather than focusing exclusively on genetic criticism, however, the editors invite essay proposals from multiple theoretical perspectives and approaches, the better to probe some intriguing questions about O’Brien’s place in popular culture. To what degree are his pronouncements on mass media and commercialised art merely ironic, and to what extent are they sincere? How did he feel about producing literature in an age of mechanical reproduction? How have authors, artists, and ‘content creators’ utilised his work? Has Flann had an appreciable impact on popular culture, or is he still a marginal figure, alluded to but seldom openly acknowledged?

Potential topics for essays include, but are by no means limited to:

•    O’Brien’s engagement with/critique of popular culture
•    Popular culture’s engagement with O’Brien – adaptation, appropriation, & homage
•    The distinction (or non-distinction) between ‘high’ and ‘low’ culture in O’Brien’s work
•    Flann, genre, & form
•    O’Brien and cultural theory

Essay proposals of no more than 300 words should be submitted to by 1 December 2014.

Once accepted, the successful proposals should be expanded into essays, limited to 5,000 words and adhering to the Chicago Manual of Style, and returned to the editors for peer review by 28 February 2015. Contributors can expect to receive feedback by 15 April 2015.

The Parish Review 2014
Call For Papers

‘Reading Brian O’Nolan’s Libraries’
The Parish Review
The journal of the International Flann O’Brien Society

The expanding field of Brian O’Nolan (Flann O’Brien/Myles na gCopaleen) scholarship has undergone a remarkable transformation in the wake of the writer’s 2011 centenary. This renewed scholarly interest has given rise to a range of Cultural Materialist, Deconstructionist, and Genetic approaches, amongst others, that have explored the representation, and indeed the limits of, knowledge within O’Nolan’s oeuvre. His writing continues to resonate within the public sphere, as is attested by the many reissues, adaptations, and collections of his works, including the recent publication of his dramatic works and short stories by Dalkey Archive Press. As Flann O’Brien (At Swim-Two-Birds, The Third Policeman) and Myles na gCopaleen (Cruiskeen Lawn, An Béal Bocht), O’Nolan is celebrated, in part, for his savage parodies of academic institutions, erudite individuals, and pedagogical methods; a reputation that appears to rest uneasily alongside this increasing scholarly attention.

The John Burns Library at Boston College acquired Brian O’Nolan’s papers and personal library in February 1997, yet a complete inventory of the latter has only just been compiled and published for the first time in the most recent issue of The Parish Review (2.1, Fall 2013), guest edited by Maebh Long. (A copy of the issue, including the full inventory, is available from the International Flann O’Brien Society by contacting the general editors at This is an important and exciting resource for O’Nolan scholars: the library contains over four hundred books, periodicals, and newspapers in French, German, Greek, Irish, and Latin on subjects as diverse as archaeology, philosophy, politics, psychology, science, and theology. Additionally, there are literary texts from the Classical, Renaissance, Romantic, Victorian, and Modern periods. Due to the complexity of this collection, its potential as a resource for scholarship is only beginning to be examined.

A forthcoming issue of The Parish Review (October 2014) will take up the question of how to assess Brian O’Nolan’s personal library, particularly in light of the representation of archives, marginalia, and scholarship across his oeuvre. We will encourage dialogue between frequently polarized critical approaches, asking which O’Nolan we might find between these shelves. Is O’Nolan’s work invigorated or exhausted by questions of influence? Does the representation of scholarship within his work mark a point of potential or resistance for archival approaches? What might be gathered from the annotations and marginalia within this wide-ranging collection of texts? Or should O’Nolan scholarship be spared from such lines of inquisition?  The editors invite proposals on any aspect of O’Nolan’s writing, but are especially interested in papers that explore the holdings at the Burns Library and/or investigate the wider epistemological issues that arise within his work. Potential topics for papers include, but are by no means limited to:

   * How models of influence are sustained by and/or undermined by O’Nolan’s work
   * The complexities of O’Nolan’s national and intellectual contexts
   * The representation of libraries and/or scholarship within modernist & post-modernist texts
   * O’Nolan’s engagement with, or response to, specific literary movements
  * How emerging methodologies & technologies might inform our use & understanding of O’Nolan’s library 

Essay proposals of no more than 300 words should be submitted to by 31 January 2014

Essays will be limited to 5,000 words and adhere to the MLA style guide. They will be submitted for peer-review to the editors by 31 May 2014. Contributors can expect to receive feedback by 31 July 2014.

The Parish Review
Issue 2.1 out October 2013!

We are delighted to bring you the latest issue of The Parish Review. Guest-edited by Maebh Long (Assembling Flann O'Brien, Bloomsbury 2014), The Parish Review 2.1 (Fall 2013) boasts articles by Ian Ó Caoimh, Jonathan O’Neill, Baylee Brits, and Thierry Robin.

With an original cover image by Irami Buli, the issue offers readers the first full inventory of Brian O’Nolan’s Library (compiled by Catherine Ahearn and Adam Winstanley) at Boston College, as well as Carol Taaffe's review of Dalkey's latest Flann collection, Catherine Ahearn's account from the IFOBS conference in Rome, and reports from the far-flung corners of the IFOBS empire in The Parish Bulletin.

The issue also looks to the future with a Call For Papers for a 2014 edition of The Parish Review on the subject of ‘Reading Brian O’Nolan’s Libraries’.

Have you signed up for your copy yet?

Society Awards 2013
 And the winners are...

Problems with Authority:
The II International Flann O'Brien Conference
Rome, 19-21 June 2013

Il Giardino di Albino, Rome was the proud venue of the first Father Kurt Fahrt S.J. Memorial Prize award ceremony. After lavish baskets of Sardinian appetizers, three pasta tastings, and a main course for which no measure of appetite was prepared, over grappa and tiramisu, the winners were announced. Ruben Borg, the presenter, looked elegant as ever in a light tan jacket, navy blue polo shirt, and beige flannel trousers. His voice betrayed some emotion as he read out first the nominees, then the winners.

The Winners:

Best book length study on a Brian O’Nolan theme, 2011-12:
Neil Murphy and Keith Hopper, eds., Flann O’Brien: Centenary Essays, The Review of Contemporary Fiction 31.3 (Fall 2011).

Best essay length study on a Brian O’Nolan theme, 2011-12:
Jon Day, ‘Cuttings from Cruiskeen Lawn: Bibliographical Issues in the Republication of Myles na gCopaleen’s Journalism’ in Jennika Baines, ed., ‘Is it about a bicycle?’: Flann O’Brien in the Twenty- First Century (Dublin: Four Courts, 2011), pp. 32-48.

The Parish Review 2013
Issue 1.2 is Here!

We are thrilled to bring the new issue of The Parish Review to members of The International Flann O'Brien Society!

The Parish Review 1.2 is a special issue dedicated to the theme of 'Flann and the Archive'. Guest-edited by Jennika Baines (‘Is it about a bicycle?’: Flann O’Brien in the Twenty-First Century, Four Courts Press 2011) the edition includes wonderful contributions from Jack Fennell, Maebh Long, John McCloskey, Neil Murphy, Adrian Naughton, Amy Nejezchleb, Breandán Ó Conaire, Marion Quirici, and Andrew Sherlock - as well as the long-awaited nominations for the inaugural International Flann O'Brien Society Awards (the Father Fahrt, S.J Memorial Prizes, big & small).

To get your copy make sure you've registered for membership of IFOBS: just drop us an email! We're looking forward to hearing from you!

Society Awards 2013
The first IFOBS Awards nominees are in...

Dear friends and members of the International Flann O'Brien Society,
We thank you warmly for your nominations for the International Flann O'Brien Society Awards (the soon-to-be world-famous Father Fahrt, S.J Memorial Prize) for excellent contributions to Flann O'Brien Scholarship. We are pleased to announce the results of the first popular vote determining the Fahrt nominations for 2011-2012.

The nominees for the “Big” award are:
Jennika Baines, ed., ‘Is it about a bicycle?’: Flann O’Brien in the Twenty-First Century (Dublin: Four Courts Press, 2011).
Neil Murphy and Keith Hopper, eds., Flann O’Brien: Centenary Essays, The Review of Contemporary Fiction 31.3 (Fall 2011).

The nominees in the “Small” category:
Jon Day, ‘Cuttings from Cruiskeen Lawn: Bibliographical Issues in the Republication of Myles na gCopaleen’s Journalism’ in Jennika Baines, ed., ‘Is it about a bicycle?’: Flann O’Brien in the Twenty- First Century (Dublin: Four Courts, 2011), pp. 32-48.
Adrian Naughton, ‘Naduir-Fhil ocht na Gaedhilge and Flann O’Brien’s Fiction’, in Jennika Baines, ed., ‘Is it about a bicycle?’: Flann O’Brien in the Twenty- First Century (Dublin: Four Courts, 2011), pp. 83-97.
Thierry Robin, 'Representation as a Hollow Form, or the Paradoxical Magic of Idiocy and Skepticism In Flann O’Brien’s Works', in Neil Murphy and Keith Hoppers, eds., Flann O’Brien: Centenary Essays, The Review of Contemporary Fiction 31.3 (Fall 2011): 33-48.
Maciej Ruczaj, 'Infernal Poetics/Infernal Ethics: Flann O’Brien’s The Third Policeman between Medieval and Modern Netherworlds', in Neil Murphy and Keith Hoppers, eds., Flann O’Brien: Centenary Essays, The Review of Contemporary Fiction 31.3 (Fall 2011): 91-105.

The winners will be chosen by an impartial judge, appointed ad hoc from outside the society. The results will be announced at "Problems with Authority: The II International Flann O'Brien Conference" (19-21 June, 2013), at which prizes will be awarded to the best book-length publication, and best essay-length publication on a Flann O’Brien theme.

May the best Flann(eur) win!

IFOBS Conference 2013
Call For Papers

Problems With Authority:
The II International Flann O'Brien Conference

Rome, 19-21 June, 2013

Keynote Speakers
Jed Esty (University of Pennsylvania)
Carol Taaffe (Author of Ireland Through the Looking-Glass:
Flann O'Brien, Myles na gCopaleen & Irish Cultural Debate)
Dirk Van Hulle (University of Antwerp)

Guest Writers & Performers
Mikel Murfi (Director of John Duffy’s Brother)
Mark O’Halloran (Star of John Duffy’s Brother; screenwriter of Adam and Paul and Garage)
Julian Gough (Author of Jude in Ireland and Jude in London)
Eiléan Ní Chuilleanáin (Author of Acts and Monuments and The Sun-Fish)
Ailbhe Ní Ghearbhuigh (Author of Péacadh)
Aifric Mac Aodha (Author of Gabháil Syrinx)

The International Flann O’Brien Society is proud to announce that a conference on the works of Brian O’Nolan will be hosted by the Department of Comparative Literatures, at the Università Roma Tre under the title Problems with Authority: The II International Flann O’Brien Conference.

It is an exciting time for the expanding field of O’Nolan scholarship. Despite the significant increase in events and publications since his centenary year in 2011, a great deal of work remains to be done in exploring O’Nolan’s under-analysed minor texts and in closing the many critical gaps in the academic record. At the centre of these critical projects are explorations of O’Nolan’s texts as fertile territory for mediating between conflicting authorities: between traditional and modern scripts, local and international perspectives, and between avant-garde and conservative approaches to the authorities of science, history, and literary tradition.

With these issues in mind, the conference aims to address questions of canonicity and authority in Brian O’Nolan’s work.  2013 sees the publication of collections of O’Nolan’s short stories (Neil Murphy & Keith Hopper, Dalkey Archive) and dramatic works (Daniel Jernigan, Dalkey Archive). As these collections give us greater access to a rich variety of overlooked texts in the O’Nolan literary canon, they also prompt and challenge us to broaden and retrace its borders. Indeed, given the amount of pseudonyms and apocryphal texts in play, we might ask whether these borders can ever be definitively drawn. Similarly, the vast collections of O’Nolan’s correspondence, manuscripts, and drafts housed in Illinois, Boston, and Texas, – as well as The Irish Times’s online digital archive – have recently given rise to emerging fields of  Genetic and Cultural Materialist approaches that seek to explore the borders of authorship and authority in O’Nolan’s ever-expanding oeuvre.

And while longer-running critical conversations continue to be finessed about the ways in which O’Nolan’s texts are shaped by towering 20th Century figures such as Joyce and Beckett (and the more local authorities of Church and State), the increasingly international contexts in which O’Nolan is being read have brought a new set of names to the table: from Calvino, Borges, and Kafka, to Nabokov, Danielewski and Bolaño. This international gaze brings with it other issues, such as the challenges of adaptation and translation, and the opportunities of exploring O’Nolan’s broader canon as a fertile ground for a range of critical perspectives, from Cultural Materialism, Queer Theory, and Feminism, to Metafiction, Genre Theory, and Deconstruction.

The organisers invite proposals on any aspect of O’Nolan’s writing, but are especially interested in papers that explore questions of authorship and authority in O’Nolan’s work, including, but not limited to:

Broadening the Canon
– Problems of canonicity and the reception of minor works
– O’Nolan on Screen and Stage: The forgotten scripts
– O’Nolan as letter writer
– Challenges in adapting/translating O’Nolan’s writing

On Whose Authority?
– Ideological critique & the comedic subversion of authority in O’Nolan’s writing
– Conflicting Authorities: The traditional vs. the avant-garde, the local vs. the international in O’Nolan’s writing
– Writing Under the Influence: O’Nolan and his contemporaries
– The Clowning of Science: Menippean Satire and the encyclopaedic ideal

Theoretical Authorities
– Death of the Author: O’Nolan and Capital "T" Theory
– O’Nolan and theories of Genre
– Cultural Materialist and Genetic Approaches
– Male Authorities / Feminist Readings
– The Reception of Flann O’Brien in Ireland and beyond

Please submit abstracts & panel proposals to by 1 February 2013.

John McCourt (Università Roma Tre)
Ruben Borg (Hebrew University of Jerusalem)
Paul Fagan (University of Vienna)

The Parish Review 2012
1.1 (Summer 2012)

It's finally here!

The International Flann O'Brien Society is now getting ready to circulate the first edition of its society journal The Parish Review 1.1 (Summer 2012), with news and (re)views from the world of Flann scholarship.

The issues includes pieces, reviews, and reports by noted Flanneurs, including David Wheatley, Ronan Crowley, Maebh Long, Erika Mihálycsa, Keith Hopper, and Frank McNally, as well as musician Ergo Phizmiz and artists Kevin Atherton and David O'Kane, whose beautiful cover artwork for the edition you can see to the left.

Anybody interested in receiving editions of The Parish Review, please email the founders:

The IFOBS Newsletter & Conference announcements!

Coming soon

Make sure to sign up for your free membership by emailing us to get your copy of the first edition of the IFOBS journal, The Parish Review.

We have high ambitions for this inaugural issue, with numerous Flann O'Brien research resources, reports, books reviews, as well as articles by leading Flann scholars on the current state of  Flann research, the latest and ongoing Flann projects, and, of course, the  Society Awards. We will also  reveal our very exciting plans for future IFOBS events and conferences!

Members will be hearing from us soon on all of these exciting plans - make sure you're  included!

Please send all suggestions for news stories and info on Flann events to

2011 marks the centenary year of Brian O'Nolan; born October 5 1911 in Strabane, County Tyrone, in what is now Northern Ireland. He is most famous, under the penname Flann O'Brien, as the author of At Swim-Two-Birds and The Third Policeman – two works which could easily take a seat alongside Don Quixote, Tristram Shandy, and Ulysses at the head table of comic literature masterpieces.

However, beyond his two most famous and innovative novels, O’Nolan left us a wealth of writing under myriad pseudonyms; from his early student scribblings as Brother Barnabas (such as Scenes in a Novel (probably posthumous), and the short-lived monthly periodical Blather), to his bitingly satirical Gaelic Novel An Béal Bocht (The Poor Mouth) and longstanding “Cruiskeen Lawn” Irish Times newspaper column (as Myles na gCopaleen), and his final series of novels, The Hard Life, The Dalkey Archive, and the unfinished Slattery’s Sago Saga. Further genres in which O'Nolan wrote include theatre plays (the Faustian satire on Irish local government Faustus Kelly, a Karel Capek adaptation The Insect Play, and Thirst, a one act play of after hours drinking in Mr. Coulihan's Dublin pub), short stories (such as the nightmare-ish Two-in-One), TV dramas (including The Dead Spit of Kelly, Flight, and The Time Freddie Retired), and Radio scripts for RTE’s O’Dea’s Yer Man’. O'Nolan is even said to have written three editions of the popular post-war detective comic series Sexton Blake under the pen-name of Stephen Blakesley.

The occasion of O’Nolan’s centenary year affords us an opportunity to re-assess this deeply underexplored body of multigenre and polyphonic comic texts. Furthermore, it encourages us to take stock of how O’Nolan’s legacy has been shaped – particularly in comparison to his exiled, and significantly more canonised, compatriots Joyce and Beckett – how this legacy might be re-evaluated and re-shaped, and to chart how his cultural purchase has gathered speed throughout the last century, to the point that Anthony Burgess (author of A Clockwork Orange) might comment that “if we don't cherish the work of Flann O'Brien we are stupid fools who don't deserve to have great men.” That O’Nolan’s work continues to be cherished is evident in the traces of his influence on contemporary works of metafiction, such as David Foster Wallace’s Infinite Jest, Paul Auster’s Oracle Night, Mark Z. Danielewski’s House of Leaves, Italo Calvino’s If on a winter's night a traveler, and Patrick McGinley's The Devil's Diary. We also find ourselves at the point at which O’Nolan has finally entered the larger pop culture consciousness, with the appearance of The Third Policeman in the second season premiere of primetime U.S. television series Lost, resulting in a sudden surge in sales—more than 15,000 copies in three weeks, equaling total sales of the previous six years.

As demonstrated by these contemporary adaptations and appropriations of O'Nolan's work, the commonly held view of O'Nolan as a purely local writer is in desperate need of updating. As such, the conference is especially interested in challenging and re-evaluating this view of O'Nolan by considering his work in broader, more international contexts, with the ultimate goal of spearheading a more integrated international community dedicated to this ‘cult’ author.