Fallon, Gabriel Joseph (1898–1980), actor, author, and critic, was born 17 August 1898 at 28 Leinster Avenue, Dublin, son of Peter Joseph Fallon, law clerk, and Mary Josephine Fallon (née Rafferty). Educated at O'Connell's school in Dublin, he joined the civil service as a land commission clerk in 1914. He transferred to the post office in London in 1918 and was part of an amateur dramatic group run by the expatriate Irish actress Una O'Connor. Returning to Dublin in 1919 to work in the ministry of trade and commerce, he remained a civil servant until 1 September 1958 when he retired as a senior staff officer.
Employed by Lennox Robinson (qv) as a part-time actor in the Abbey Theatre in 1920, he was part of a brilliant company that included F. J. McCormick (qv), Sara Allgood (qv), and Fallon's colleague in the civil service, Barry Fitzgerald (qv); he took acting lessons with Frank Fay (qv) in the latter's rooms in Upper Mount St. in 1920. He received a positive notice from the Freeman's Journal for his part in the December 1921 production of ‘Insurance money’ by George Shiels (qv). A long and difficult personal association with Sean O'Casey (qv) commenced with his playing Mr Gallogher in ‘Shadow of a gunman’ (1923) on 12 April 1923. He took the lead role in O'Casey's ‘Nanny passes’ (1924) on 29 September 1924 and the role of Charlie Bentham in ‘Juno and the paycock’ (1924) on 3 March 1924. The two men socialised at O'Connell St.'s Broadway Soda Fountain Parlour, where Fallon once hosted Lady Gregory (qv) to an unlikely dinner. O'Casey intended him for the role of Peter Flynn in ‘The plough and the stars’ (1926) but the director, Lennox Robinson, disagreed and he was given the minor part of Captain Brennan on 8 February 1926. The controversy that surrounded the play's critique of Irish nationalism prompted a subsequent debate in the hall adjacent to Mills restaurant in Merrion Row. He spoke in defence of the play and attacked the Irish Independent for its residual antagonism to Dublin's working classes. The newspaper noted next day that ‘Mr G. Fallon also spoke’.
Though Fallon became godfather to O'Casey's son Breon in 1928, his relationship with O'Casey slowly deteriorated after O'Casey's departure for London in 1926. He left the Abbey Theatre company in 1931 due to pressure of work; rehearsals at lunchtime for a performance programme that was never settled more than three weeks in advance exhausted him. He was employed as drama critic for the Irish Monthly (1926–51) and for the Catholic Standard (1938–54); his final rift with O'Casey derived from his negative review of ‘Red roses for me’ (1943) in Dublin in June 1946. His opinion of drama – that it should be psychologically true to the characters it represents – was as sincere as his appreciation of boxing, often discussed in his regular haunt, Daly's of Eden Quay. Both are vigorous arts and his opinions of O'Casey's work were unwelcome, perceived perhaps to be ungrateful swipes at a former mentor. Drama critic for the Evening Press from 1954, he was made a director of the Abbey Theatre on Lennox Robinson's death in 1959, one year after his own retirement from the civil service. He was extra-mural lecturer on theatre arts and public speaking in UCD from 1950 to 1959 and a regular guest producer with Radio Éireann. He published a painful account of Sean O'Casey (1965) and resigned his directorship of the Abbey Theatre in 1974. A governor of the RIAM, he was also president of the Ireland–Israel friendship league. He remained of a stubbornly independent mind and celebrated his eightieth birthday with a quotation from the poem ‘September 1913’ by W. B. Yeats (qv) to criticise his contemporary, materialist Ireland.
He died 10 June 1980 at his Dublin home at 58 Whitworth Road, Drumcondra, and is buried in Deans Grange cemetery. He married (1 July 1926) Rose Anne Donnellan; they had six children.