Duffy, Bernard Joseph (1882–1952), barrister, playwright, and novelist, was born 19 June 1882 at Carrickmacross, Co. Monaghan, son of James Joseph Duffy, general merchant, and Mary Anne (Maryann) née McEntagart. Educated at Viscount Weymouth Grammar School, Carrickmacross, and TCD, he was called to the Irish bar in 1907. He practised as a barrister for eight years before retiring from law to run his father's mineral-water business from his home town. He wrote throughout his business career, publishing two novels and writing twelve plays that were popular with amateur companies. ‘Fraternity’ (1916), a one-act satire on the Ancient Order of Hibernians, was produced in the Abbey Theatre on 4 January 1916. Like all his successful work, the play relies on comic use of language rather than plot to propel it. ‘The coiner’ (1915) was produced at the Abbey Theatre on 8 February 1916 after a first staging in Belfast (December 1915). It was revived throughout 1916 and was the first production of the Abbey Theatre after it reopened in the wake of the Easter rising. The Ulster Theatre staged the first production of ‘The old lady’ (1916) at Belfast's Grand Opera House on 11 December.
Involved in theatre organisation, Duffy was coopted on 4 November 1918 to the executive committee of the Dublin Drama League, a body formed to promote non-commercial drama. He also contributed to the foundation of the Irish Drama Union in 1919, stressing especially the need to protect authors' copy and play-production rights. His one significant departure from one-act comedy was ‘The piper of Tavran’ (1921), which was produced for one performance only at the Abbey Theatre on 15 November 1921 as a companion piece to a revised ‘The king's threshold’ (1903) by W. B. Yeats (qv). It was never published, but contemporary reviews were puzzled by the play's use of music before speech to tell the story of a piper who banishes an evil spirit from a monastery. The Irish Literary Society in London produced ‘The spell’ (1924) at London's Ashburton Club Theatre on 4 April 1924. Duffy continued to write plays throughout his life, notably the three-act comedy ‘Cupboard love’ (1931). His novels were Oriel (1918) and The rocky road (1929). Ill health confined him to his home at Farney St., Carrickmacross, for years before his death there on 31 March 1952. He was survived by a wife and a daughter.