Abbey theatre, Dublin, created in 1904 as a successor to the Irish Literary theatre founded in Dublin 1899 by littérateurs (including * Yeats, Lady Gregory, and Edward Martyn ( 1859-1923)) and amateur actors wishing to produce an Irish national drama in opposition to commercial theatre. Initially envisaged as a poetic theatre, the Abbey became dominated by easily stereotyped forms of 'realism'. Much of its history has been dominated by conflict between its rival inspirations, patriotism (often linked to puritanism) and artistic excellence. This was exacerbated by a need for financial support due to its non-commercial nature. Two of the Abbey's most generous private patrons, Edward Martyn and Annie Horniman, were alienated by political and religious disagreements, and the theatre survived on a shoestring until the new *Irish Free State government in 1924 made it the first state-subsidized theatre in the English-speaking world. This brought fresh constraints, at first limited by the reputation of Yeats. The founding directors also displayed a certain unresponsiveness to new forms of stylistic experimentation; Sean O'Casey was defended against nationalist protests over The Plough and the Stars ( 1926), but alienated by the turning down of his Expressionist-influenced play The Silver Tassie ( 1928).
O'Casey's departure is seen in retrospect as a major landmark in a process of artistic decline exacerbated by the demise of the founders and seen as reaching its nadir in the 1940s and 1950s under the direction of Ernest *Blythe. Since the late 1960s Abbey standards have improved but it is still frequently criticized as unadventurous. PM
abduction of heiresses became a major concern during the 18th century. Although some such episodes were collusive, intended to circumvent parental opposition, most were genuine kidnappings, intended to force the victim into an immediate wedding ceremony or to compromise her so thoroughly that marriage to the perpetrator became her only option. * Froude's allegations that abduction was an 'act of war' by Catholics against the Protestant landed class were rejected by * Lecky in a celebrated controversy. Modern accounts support Lecky in attributing abduction primarily to economic motives. By the end of the 18th century the spread of new standards of civility had largely ended abduction among the gentry. But the carrying off of well-dowried farmers' daughters by smallholders and labourers remained common in the first half of the 19th century.
Abercorn (Hamilton). The family's Irish history began when James Hamilton of Linlithgow (d. 1618), created 1st earl of Abercorn in the Scottish peerage in 1606, was granted lands in Co. Tyrone. His son James Hamilton, the 2nd earl, was created Baron Strabane in 1616, but in 1633 passed this title, along with the Irish estate, to his brother Claude Hamilton (d. 1638). Claude's grandson Claude Hamilton (d. 1690) succeeded to the Abercorn title as 4th earl around 1680. A Catholic, he supported * James II and was killed in action during the *Williamite War. Although the estates and title were thus forfeited, Claude's Protestant brother Charles Hamilton (d. 1701) obtained a reversal of the attainder and succeeded as 5th earl in 1692. John James Hamilton ( 1756-1818), the 9th earl, created marquis of Abercorn in 1790, built up a following of active and capable members in the House of Commons during the 1790s, and had aspirations to be lord lieutenant. James Hamilton ( 1811-85), the 2nd marquis, became duke of Abercorn in 1868.
Abercromby, Sir Ralph ( 1734-1801), a highly regarded Scottish soldier, appointed commander- in-chief of the Irish army in October 1797. Horrified by what he found he issued a controversial general order ( 26 Feb. 1798) denouncing the indiscipline of the government forces. He was also attacked for his cautious approach to the disarming of the *United Irish movement in Leinster and resigned in March, opening the way for the unrestrained military repression that preceded the *insurrection of 1798.