Heno Magee, the Dublin playwright who won fame and notoriety for his play Hatchet in 1972, has passed away, aged 77.
He died peacefully at Beneavin Nursing Home in Finglas, Dublin on Tuesday, December 27.
Magee was born in Dublin in 1939. Having left school at fourteen to become a messenger boy, he later joined the RAF and travelled widely for five years before returning to Dublin to work in a variety of jobs.
His interest in theatre lead him to become a drama critic for The Catholic Standard and in 1972 he began to devote himself entirely to writing.
The first of Magee's plays to be produced on stage was I’m Getting Out of This Kip, which was also televised by RTÉ. However, it was his second play, Hatchet, a work of stark and brutal realism is set in inner city Dublin in the early 1970s, which first brought him to the attention of critics and theatre goers.
First produced in the Peacock Theatre in 1972, it shocked audiences with its directness, vitality, realism and viciousness.
At the time, The Sunday Press wrote, " . . . it has moments of rare, sensitive writing and others where Heno Magee lets the tragedy roar through terrible hate.” Hatchet has also been presented in The Abbey, in London, and on RTÉ. It was published first by The Gallery Press in 1978.
In 1976, Magee received an Abbey Theatre bursary and the Rooney Prize for Irish Literature and wrote three other plays, including, Red Biddy which was also produced on stage and television.
Despite his popularity as a Dublin playwright, he once asked Taoiseach Charles Haughey for help after his fourth rejection for a bursary from the Arts Council.
In 1993, Magee made a television documentary entitled In Flags or Flitters - Pictures of Dublin.