Just Shiels, the product of one of the first practice as research programmes undertaken by a theatre professional within the environment of an Irish university, ‘activates’ in performance the archives of the Northern Irish dramatist George Shiels (1881–1949). The play explores Shiels's marginalization from the canon of Irish theatre on grounds of his embodied position as a disabled person, his status as a Northerner writing plays to be performed across the border in the new free Irish state, his geographical peripherality to the centre of theatrical activity in Dublin and his choice of popular forms in his dramaturgy. Just Shiels was first performed in May 2008 at Queen's University Drama Centre, Belfast. This article seeks to explore to what degree Shiels's choice of popular forms and his serious physical impairment might be implicated in his marginalization. It was first delivered as a plenary session to the American Conference for Irish Studies in New York, in October 2008.