Rough, Rug Headed Bunch o’ Forgers

I didn’t have time to put together a real piece on Shakespeare for St. Patrick’s Day, so I thought we’d do more of a smorgasbord 🙂

Old Castle, but not Oldcastle.
An Old Castle, But Not An Oldcastle

When I went googling for Shakespeare and the Irish, I found that Shakespeare created the Irish stereotype. I also learned that Shakespeare apparently wrote a play called The History of Sir John Oldcastle, which was a new one on me.  That is the true name, of course, of Sir John Falstaff. But I don’t recall him having his own play.

But, according to the link, this is where Shakespeare refers to the Irish as “rough rug headed kerns,” whatever that means.  That line is actually in Richard II [II.i], so I’m not sure where the Oldcastle / Falstaff connection comes in.

For something completely different we have the William Henry Ireland, who was so set on discovering lost Shakespeare manuscripts that he just sat down and wrote a bunch of them himself.

Lastly, is Macmorris in Henry V really the only Irish character Shakespeare ever wrote?  I’ve never really looked into it.  And if that’s the case, why does he sound so much like Sean Connery, who is Scottish?

What ish my nation? Ish a villain,
and a bastard, and a knave, and a rascal. What ish
my nation? Who talks of my nation?

Where else does Ireland (or anything having to do with Ireland) show up in the works?  I could swear that there’s more crossover in King Lear but I haven’t gone and dug into it.

Happy St. Patrick’s Day, everybody!


2 thoughts on “Rough, Rug Headed Bunch o’ Forgers

  1. I think that wraps it up. There aren’t any more references to Ireland or the Irish in Shakespeare.

    [Hamlet: “Yes, by Saint Patrick, but there is!” (I.v.142).]


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