The light hand of history

Éilís Ní  Dhuibhne is a shamefully under-rated writer. A true polymath, she writes in English and Irish, and across the genres – young adult, crime, and literary fiction in both the short story and the novel forms. Her second Selected Stories volume, just published by Dalkey Archive Press, demonstrates the range and breadth of her […]

Beating the raw chicken blues

  When people ask me what I was doing when Elvis Presley died  – 40 years ago on August 16 , I can remember precisely.  I was cooking – or failing to cook  – my first chicken.  I had just moved into a tiny bedsit in Tralee, where I was working as a cub reporter, […]

The ghost of the good priest

Must all clergy automatically be distrusted because of the Catholic church’s abominable record of sexual and physical abuse?  What about the good priest? Don’t honorable nuns exist? That’s the question Conor O’Callaghan implicitly asks in his recently paperbacked novel, Nothing on Earth.  (It’s a very pertinent question given the heated controversy of recent days about the new national […]

Being 59

A survey conducted by the Department for Work and Pensions in the UK found that most people believe that old age starts at 59, while youth ends at 41. Last week – September 27, to be exact – I reached the age my father was when he died – 59 years, 8 months and 2 […]

The forgotten dead

When Ireland’s Fiction Laureate, novelist Anne Enright, (above) gave a lecture in late November with the title “Giving Voice: Antigone and the Dishonoured Dead”, the unwary might have believed she was going to talk about Greek tragedy in general, and Sophocles’ play, Antigone, specifically. But the real subject of Enright’s lecture lay in the dis-honouring […]

Under the influence

Although I’ve never met the American novelist Julianna Baggott, she has championed my work from afar and blurbed my most recent novel, The Rising of Bella Casey, enthusiastically.  Here’s a blog she wrote about discovering a hardback US edition of my first novel, Mother of Pearl, by fluke in a New England campground. A lucky […]