Ireland and the World of the 1950s
Eoin O’Brien The Baggotonian Movement: Nevill Johnson (1911-1999)
Eoin O’Brien The Baggotonian Movement: Nevill Johnson (1911–1999) To the memory of six shades of Baggotonia who so enriched my life and that of many others: Con Leventhal, Niall Sheridan, Denis Johnston, Micheál MacLiammóir, Samuel Beckett and Nevill Johnson. I This essay explores not only Nevill Johnson’s artistic impact on the 1950s in Dublin, but also the decadent milieu into which he plunged as he f led the constraints of Protestant Belfast for Catholic Dublin under the ruth- lessly ef ficient moral dictatorship of the Reverend John Charles McQuaid and Eamon De Valera. My exposure to Baggotonia during my early years inf luenced how I was to view life, but of greater import is the friendship I established with so many of the figures who were then just ‘characters’ in a Bohemian oasis but who are now viewed as figures of cultural significance in the pantheon of achievement. I was born in the heart of Baggotonia, in a nursing home in Pembroke Street and taken then for baptism to St. Marys’ Church in Haddington Road, which kept an episcopal watch over the area in more ways than some of its inhabitants would have wanted, but the majority were duly subservient to the dictates of the Bishop of Nara. My childhood during the war years were spent in Fitzwilliam Street Upper, a main tributary of Baggotonia, where my memories are of two parks – St. Stephen’s Green and the private park of Fitzwilliam. Here we were wheeled by nannies...
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