Brian O'Nolan

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Brian O'Nolan (1911-10-051966-04-01) was an Irish novelist, journalist and humorist, better known by his pseudonyms Flann O’Brien and Myles na gCopaleen (or Myles na Gopaleen).


  • One beginning and one ending for a book was a thing I did not agree with. A good book may have three openings entirely dissimilar and inter-related only in the prescience of the author, or for that matter one hundred times as many endings.
    • At Swim-Two-Birds (Harmondsworth: Penguin, [1939] 1967), p. 9.
  • Do you know what I am going to tell you, he said with his wry mouth, a pint of plain is your only man.
    • At Swim-Two-Birds (Harmondsworth: Penguin, [1939] 1967), p. 22.

The Third Policeman (1967)

The Third Policeman was written in 1939-40, but was only published posthumously. Unless otherwise stated quotations here are cited from the 1983 edition (ISBN 0246122749).

  • "You told me what the first rule of wisdom is," I said. "What is the second rule?"
    "That can be answered," he said. "There are five in all. Always ask any questions that are to be asked and never answer any. Turn everything you hear to your own advantage. Always carry a repair outfit. Take left turns as much as possible. Never apply your front brake first...If you follow them," said the Sergeant, "you will save your soul and you will never get a fall on a slippy road."
    • Page 60
  • The gross and net result of it is that people who spent most of their natural lives riding iron bicycles over the rocky roadsteads of this parish get their personalities mixed up with the personalities of their bicycle as a result of the interchanging of the atoms of each of them and you would be surprised at the number of people in these parts who nearly are half people and half bicycles.
    • Page 85

The Best of Myles (1968)

The Best of Myles is a posthumously published collection of extracts from Myles na Gopaleen’s "Cruiskeen Lawn" column in The Irish Times. Unless otherwise stated quotations here are taken from the 1977 edition (ISBN 0330248553).

  • Some savage faculty for observation told him that most respectable and estimable people usually had a lot of books in their houses.
    • Page 17
  • Often in the theatre I can hardly hear myself talking or assuring my doxy that so-and-so is the same fellow that played so-and-so in so-and-so, he's very good, he's a civil servant in the Department of Agriculture, I met a sister of his in Skerries, and so on. Actors should conduct themselves like the rest of us and practise the unobtrusive intonation of the gentleman.
    • Page 37
  • It cannot be too often repeated that I am not for sale. I was bought in 1921 and the transaction was final and conclusive.
    • Page 282
  • If Irish were to die completely, the standard of English here, both in the spoken and written word, would sink to a level probably as low as that obtaining in England and it would stop there only because it could go no lower.
    • Page 283

The Hair of the Dogma (1977)

Myles na Gopaleen's The Hair of the Dogma is a posthumously published collection of extracts from "Cruiskeen Lawn". Unless otherwise stated quotations here are taken from the 1989 edition (ISBN 0586089470).

  • Waiting for the German verb is surely the ultimate thrill.
    • Page 143
  • The majority of the members of the Irish parliament are professional politicians, in the sense that otherwise they would not be given jobs minding mice at a crossroads.
    • Page 171

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