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Final home of Irish dramatist given a blue plaque

By Western Morning News  |  Posted: October 30, 2012

Playwright Sean O'Casey's daughter Shivaun holds the blue plaque honouring her father at the Villa Rosa in Torquay , his former home Picture: Lucy Duval

A heritage blue plaque has been unveiled to mark the final Westcountry home of one of the great playwrights of the 20th century.

Irish dramatist Sean O'Casey, whose work documented the working class struggle in his hometown Dublin, ended his days in St Marychurch, Torquay.

His only daughter and last remaining child, Shivaun, spoke at a ceremony attended by 80 people outside her former family home at Villa Rosa, Trumlands Road.

Ian Handford, chairman of the Torbay Civic Society, said the author was part of an illustrious group of writers to frequent a resort once dubbed Queen of the English Riviera.

He said the playwright had been "besotted" with the area and loved walking there, particularly on Babbacombe Downs.

"It was an interesting one for the society because for the first time we placed two plaques – one on the house and the other on the gatepost – just in case one is stolen," he added.

"The family lived in the first floor flat here after moving from Totnes when the owner wanted his house back."

O'Casey was born to a "shabby genteel" family in Dublin's northside in 1880 and went on to dramatise a turbulent time in his country's history until his death in 1964.

A committed Socialist and nationalist, he wrote The Shadow of a Gunman, Juno and the Paycock and The Plough and the Stars, recently performed in Bath.

His children, including St Ives artist Breon O'Casey, who died last year, all attended Dartington School.

Devon author Charles Kingsley, of The Water Babies fame, will be the subject of the next blue plaque to be erected in December.

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