Posts Tagged ‘ Joseph O’Connor ’

Writing And Ideas At Borris House In Carlow


The lovely Borris House in Co Carlow is once more to be the backdrop for a wonderful variety of literary, cultural and journalistic discussions. The ‘Festival of Writing and Ideas’ will run over the weekend of the 14th and 15th June. It is part of the Carlow Arts Festival, though it is run independently of it and is curated by Vivienne Guinness, Eleanor O’Keeffe, Catherine Heaney and Hugo Jellett. I was also interested to note that they put all of this together without Arts Council Funding which is a great achievement.

I’ve been looking through the programme to see what’s on offer this year and I discovered what is generally known as an ‘All Star Line Up’ which makes visitors to the festival spoilt for choice. If you buy a day ticket for either Saturday or Sunday (35e) which is excellent value then you can go along to any or all of the events or if you prefer, tickets are available to buy individually. Continue reading

New Organisation Aims To Showcase Irish Talent

It’s been said that Ireland has produced some of the most beautiful and profound works of literature in the world, and with writers such as James Joyce, Oscar Wilde, Elizabeth Bowen and Joseph O’Connor part of our literary past, it’s hard to disagree. ‘Under Thirty’, a new non – profit organisation, hopes to add to that reputation by inspiring a new generation of writers.

Specifically aimed at Irish writers between the ages of 16 – 30, the organisation which was set up in September by Dr. Stephen Doherty, aims to showcase Irish fiction at home and abroad. ‘Under Thirty’ is made up of a group of expert panellists and provides a platform for young writers to have their work published and critiqued by experienced peers.  The most promising submissions are published in the group’s bi – annual journal which will be distributed as an e –book and a printed book throughout Ireland, the United States and Australia.

‘It’s quite experimental and it’s not something that has really been done before within the creative writing world’, explains Dr. Doherty, who is an author and a lecturer at Dublin City University.

‘It came from talking to young writers who were struggling to have their work read, and I thought it would be an interesting idea to set up a organisation where people can submit their work, get constructive advice and have a chance to be published.’

At the moment the organisation has fifty panellists from a mixture of professional backgrounds; they include Irish Times journalist – Tim O’Brien, author – Yvonne Cassidy, literary scholar – Professor Margaret Kelleher and historian/ author – Turtle Bunbury.  All the organisers and panellists work voluntarily to ‘review submissions, provide feedback and encouragement to the country’s aspiring writers.’

Valerie Sirr, winner of the Hennessy New Irish Writer award in 2007 and writer for the Irish Times, outlined her view on the initiative – ‘I think it’s a great idea to reach young writers. I wish it had existed when I started out.  I hope my own input will be of benefit to young writers because it’s a great feeling to see new writers develop and in my experience they often come on in leaps and bounds with the right guidance’.

The most outstanding contributor will be awarded with a prize of either, a creative writing scholarship or a writing retreat which will be funded by eBook and book sales. Plans are in place to have the journal put together in December with the finished product ready for sale in the run up to Christmas.

‘The group is a non profit organisation with the idea essentially based around people being generous with their time. There has been a great reaction so far and I’d encourage anyone who is interested to submit their work before the November deadline’, says Dr. Doherty.

Currently ‘Under Thirty’ is only open to Irish writers based at home and abroad but organisers are optimistic that if interest continues it will expand to the ‘UK and USA, and include younger writer’s as well’.

The deadline for this year’s submissions is midnight the 7th of November. Further details are available on the website or join the conversation on Twitter  and Facebook –

By Luke Holohan

Joseph O’Connor’s “Ghost Light” (2010)

Ghost Light is a novel written by Joseph O’Connor and published in 2010. O’Connor is also the author of the renowned 2002 novel Star of the Sea, which similarly to Ghost Light, is an historical-metafiction. Ghost Light centres on the character of Molly Allgood (1885-1952), a non-fictional Irish actress. Molly, a Catholic working class Irish girl * and star of Yeats and Lady Gregory’s Abbey Theatre, attracts the attention of the Protestant upper-class playwright, John Millington Synge. J.M. Synge is best known for his 1907 play The Playboy of the Western World that sparked anger and even a riot at its Dublin opening night. As Synge is much older than Molly their relationship is frowned upon, particularly by Synge’s proud and rather affected mother. The narration is split between Molly’s memories of her youth as an actress in Dublin, her time with John and Molly’s present day existence in London as an older lady, still trying to reignite her success as an actress, living in a decaying bedsit and largely dependent on alcohol.

O’Connor’s depiction of Molly is commendable – though she is haunted by loneliness, alcoholism and the death of her lover, Molly retains her ladylike demeanor, she still rises in the morning and puts on her best clothes, applies rouge to her cheeks and lips and walks London town. Although there is also a sense that she has succumbed to dementia and alcoholism as she describes a BBC interview that she appears to have imagined as well as appearing to pass out drunk in public; O’Connor manages to portray Molly as tragic and lonely without making her seem pathetic or completely erratic to herself. O’Connor’s narrative style can also be held responsible for the powerful effect it has on the reader; you become Molly, you embody the sophisticated elder lady appearing to be having a leisurely stroll around London but in fact pawning off a past lover’s letters for money to drink. You become the young, beautiful, spirited actress touring America, the love-struck fiancé and the grief-stricken lover.

O’Connor’s novel is a perfect study of the imperfect human condition. Rather than be the simple tragic love-story that it offers to be, it defies this with a stylistic narrative and its intricate portrayal of Molly Allgood’s haunted elder life. The novel setting is also one worth mentioning, Molly’s youth and her relationship with John are set in the heart of Dublin at a very exciting time for literature. The time of the Irish Literary Revival; Yeats, the Abbey Theatre, Lady Gregory, Maud Gonne, George Moore and G.B. Shaw. O’Connor takes us all around Dublin at this famous time, Killiney Hill, Kingstown (now Dún Laoghaire) and elsewhere are the backdrop to the story so if this interests you then the novel is definitely worth a look. The novel, despite its fictional story-line is based on the real affair between J.M. Synge and Molly Allgood and is a fascinating account of the life, though tragic, left behind by the famous playwright.

* All opinions in this article are based on information taken from the novel, they are not necessarily based on real-life fact of either Molly Allgood or J.M. Synge.