The manuscript of a one-act play by the late Irish dramatist Sean O'Casey has resurfaced after being lost for 80 years.

The Cooing of the Doves, typewritten with the writer's notes on the side, is being donated to Princeton University in the U.S. by Leonard Milberg, a financier and collector. Princeton is Milberg's alma mater.

Milberg revealed recently that the play is part of a massive collection of Irish drama and memorabilia he is handing over to the university, documenting 160 years of theatre in Ireland.



It contains more than 1,000 items, including photographs, playbills and materials such as a French first edition of Samuel Beckett's Waiting for Godot, and works by W.B. Yeats, Brian Friel and Martin McDonagh.

"There's nothing quite like this in Ireland itself," Princeton Prof. Paul Muldoon, a northern Irish poet, told the Guardian newspaper.

"It's an extraordinary resource for our local scholars, who are more and more interested in Irish theatre."

Details of the manuscript's journey are still murky. It is valued at $75,000 US.

O'Casey submitted the play to the Abbey Theatre in Dublin in 1923 but it was never performed. Parts of the work were then incorporated into The Plough and the Stars, which premiered at the Abbey in 1926. It was around that time that the original manuscript is believed to have disappeared. O'Casey thought he had lost it.

Milberg says Cooing of the Doves appeared at a sale at an Irish auction house. Book dealer Howard Woolmer, acting for Milberg, bought it.

Milberg says the play was owned for a period of time by an actor, Eric Gorman, a member of the Abbey Theatre company, and O'Casey's friend.

The 73-year-old financier says he's donating the collection in honour of Muldoon, also founding chair of the university's Center for the Creative and Performing Arts.

Princeton is celebrating the donation with a three-day symposium on Irish theatre next month. It will feature productions of Brian Friel's Translations and William Synge's The Playboy of the Western World. Irish actors such as Stephen Rea and Gabriel Byrne are expected to attend.

O'Casey, born in a Dublin slum in 1880, suffered from poverty and poor eyesight most of his life. He died in 1964.

A self-described socialist and nationalist, his plays centre on the plight of the working class and issues of justice. They include Within the Gates, The Star Turns Red, Red Roses for Me, Oak Leaves and Lavender, and Cock A Doodle Dandy.


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