Short Biography of Famous Owensons

'Owenson' coat of arms?

Robert Owenson,

Actor, 1744 - 1812

Born Robert MacOwen to a poor family in Tyrawley, Co. Mayo, Ireland.   Robert later anglicised his surname to Owenson.   While still young he acquired a taste for acting and the theatre and around 1771 through Oliver Goldsmith he was introduced to Garrick.   He was quite successful in provincial theatres and made his London debut at Covent Garden in 1774.   The same year, he married Jane Mill (born 1745) in Shrewesbury.

He was admitted a member of the 'Literary Club' on Goldsmith's recommendation, and married Jane Mill from Shrewsbury that same year.   The first child was a daughter, Sydney, who went on to become a well-known author.   Another daughter, Olivia, married Sir Arthur Clarke, MD.

Robert Owenson appeared at and became co-owner of the Crow Street Theatre in Dublin.     In 1785 after a disagreement with his manager, he opened the Fishamble Street Theatre, and also theatres in Kilkenny, Londonderry and Sligo but without commercial success and he retired from the theatre in 1798.

He was regarded as a competent comedian and capable composer; the airs 'Rory O'More' and 'My Love's the Fairest Creature' being attributed to him.   He has a song recorded in TC Croker's 'Popular Songs of Ireland', and published a long 'epic' poem under the signature RNO.

He died at the house of his son-in-law, Sir Arthur Clarke, in May 1812 and is buried in Irishtown outside the city.


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