Pseudonym of Brian Ó Nualláin, also known as Brian O'Nolan.
His English novels appeared under the name of Flann O’Brien, while his great Irish novel and his newspaper column (which appeared from 1940 to 1966) were signed Myles na gCopaleen or Myles na Gopaleen – the second being a phonetic rendering of the first. One of twelve brothers and sisters, he was born in 1911 in Strabane, County Tyrone, into an Irish-speaking family. His father had learned Irish while a young man during the Gaelic revival the son was later to mock. O’Brien’s childhood has been described as happy, though somewhat insular, as the language spoken at home was not that spoken by their neighbours. The Irish language had long been in decline, and Strabane was not in an Irish-speaking part of the country. The family moved frequently during O’Brien’s childhood, finally settling in Dublin in 1925. Four years later O’Brien took up study in University College Dublin.
Flann O'Brien is considered a major figure in twentieth century Irish literature. Flann O'Brien novels have attracted a wide following for their bizarre humour and Modernist metafiction.
The café and shop of Cultúrlann McAdam Ó Fiaich (www.culturlann.ie), at the heart of the Belfast Gaeltacht Quarter, is named An Ceathrú Póilí
("The Fourth Policeman"), as a play-on-words of the title of O'Brien's book The Third Policeman
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