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O'Keeffe Clan

Gathering and Rally

9, 10 and 11 Sept 2016

guided tours, lectures

historical and genealogical exhibitions

cultural and musical events,

buffet banquet Saturday evening
John O Keeffe, Dramatist

John O Keeffe was born 24th June 1747 in Dublin, he was educated locally and showed an interest in art. He was enrolled into the Dublin Society Schools. But he became interested in theatre and in the summer of 1762 he travelled to his aunt’s in London, he attended lots of plays while there. He returned to Ireland in 1764 where he was employed by Henry Mossop to write and act in plays in the Smock Alley Theatre. He produced his first successful work in 1767 A Farce ‘The She-gallant’) it was improved and performed in London as “The Positive Man” in 1782. He married Mary Heaphy, the eldest daughter of Tottenham and Alice Heaphy in 1774, both her parents were successful actors. Mary his wife was a very successful here in Ireland and Britain, John was acting throughout Ireland, while his wife at the time was making her inauguration as the character Juliet in Romeo and Juliet at the Smock Alley Theatre in 1775. He moved his family to London and composed a twin set to Goldsmith’s ‘she stoops to Conquer’: Tony Lumpkin’s Ramble Thro’ Cork (1773) and ‘Tony Lumpkin in Town’ (1774). One of his greatest success was ‘Tony Lumpkin in Town’ preformed in the Haymarket Theatre in 1778. He changed his remit in 1779 in Dublin when he changed his writing to operatic comedy work Called ‘The Son in Law’ which was both welcomed and applauded in England and Ireland. The husband and wife team worked together on stage in the Crow Street Company. John O Keeffe discovered his wife’s infidelity and his marriage broke up caustically.

John O Keeffe moved permanently to Britain, He set to work and produced a famous piece of work ‘The agreeable surprise’ in 1781. He unfortunately started to go blind as a result of a childhood accident where he fell into the river Liffey. He continued to produce works by dictating, but these were not as distinguished as his previous work. He published his recollections in two volumes in 1826, he dedicating this work to King George IV in return he received a royal pension. He is the author of seventy seven works in total and the Royal Shakespearian Company revived some of his plays, ‘Wild Oats’ was one of these works.

John O Keeffe His wife passed away in 01/01/1813 in Scotland, they had two sons and one daughter. His eldest son, John Tottenham born in 1775 became a chaplain to the Duke of Clarence, he died in Jamaica in 1805. Their second son in infancy, their only daughter Adelaide was born in 1776, became was a poet and novelist. John O Keeffe himself died in the year 1833.


                                                                                                            Patricia O Keeffe, Newmarket