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Donal O'Kelly (born 1958) is an Irish playwright and actor.[3][4][5]

Donal O'Kelly
Born1958 (age 6364)
Dublin, Ireland
Occupationplaywright, actor
Years active1982–present
Notable worksCatalpa
Bat The Father, Rabbit The Son[1]
Jimmy Joyced![2]

Early life

O'Kelly was born in Dublin in 1958.[6][7] He worked in the Irish Civil Service as a computer programmer, before quitting to become active in theatre and politics.[7]


O'Kelly's first play was Silicon Sweethearts (1984).[8] In 1993, he co-founded Calypso Productions, dedicated to staging work that deals with human rights. He is a longtime activist and an associate director of Afri.[9]

O'Kelly was elected to Aosdána in 2007; he resigned in 2011 after Dunamaise Arts Centre[10] refused to hang one of Mannix Flynn's works and was accused of censorship by Aosdána; O'Kelly did not agree.[11]

Donal O'Kelly's 1995 play Catalpa won a Scotsman Fringe First Award at the 1996 Edinburgh Fringe Festival and the Critics' Prize at the 1997 Melbourne International Festival in 1997. In 1999 he won the Irish American Cultural Institute Butler Literary Award.[12]

In 2014 his music-drama serial Francisco won the gold medal for Best Drama Special at the New York Festivals Radio Awards.[13]

O'Kelly's film appearances include Jimmy's Hall, The Van and Kings, for which he was nominated for an IFTA. On TV, he has appeared on Paths to Freedom, Ballykissangel and The Clinic.[14][15]


  1. "Donal O'Kelly on 30 years of 'Bat The Father Rabbit The Son'". The Irish Times.
  2. "Operation Easter | Magill".
  3. Grene, Nicholas; Morash, Chris (28 July 2016). The Oxford Handbook of Modern Irish Theatre. Oxford University Press. ISBN 978-0-19-101634-9 via Google Books.
  4. Browne, Harry. "One man's remarkable voyage". The Irish Times.
  5. O'Toole, Fintan (6 March 2003). Critical Moments: Fintan O'Toole on Modern Irish Theatre. Peter Lang. ISBN 9781904505037 via Google Books.
  6. "O'Kelly, Donal 1958- [WorldCat Identities]".
  7. Middeke, Martin; Schnierer, Peter Paul (28 May 2010). The Methuen Drama Guide to Contemporary Irish Playwrights. A&C Black. ISBN 9781408113462 via Google Books.
  8. "Aosdána".
  9. "Bat the Father / Rabbit the Son". 24 January 2019.
  10. Fitz-Simons, Christopher; Sternlicht, Sanford (1 November 1996). New Plays from the Abbey Theatre: 1993-1995. Syracuse University Press. ISBN 9780815603450 via Google Books.
  11. Shortall, Eithne. "Actor loses €17k to defy Aosdana" via
  12. Fitzpatrick, Richard (9 February 2015). "Donal O'Kelly staging one of the greatest Irish stories ever told". Irish Examiner.
  13. Murphy, Greg (25 June 2014). "Irish radio serial dedicates NY gold award to Chelsea Manning". Irish Examiner.
  14. "Donal O'Kelly". IMDb.
  15. "Donal O'Kelly". MUBI.

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