Maeve Binchy remembered at Dalkey Book Festival

Collection of late author’s articles due to be published soon

Roddy Doyle remembered Maeve Binchy’s “great support” for the creative writing programme at the Fighting Words centre in Dublin. Photograph: Eric Luke

Roddy Doyle remembered Maeve Binchy’s “great support” for the creative writing programme at the Fighting Words centre in Dublin. Photograph: Eric Luke

Sat, Jun 15, 2013, 01:00


Tributes were paid to the late journalist and author Maeve Binchy at the Dalkey Book Festival in Dublin last night. Speakers included author Roddy Doyle, academic Declan Kiberd, Maeve’s agent Christine Green, former Irish Times colleague Mary Maher and festival director David McWilliams.

Roddy Doyle remembered Maeve Binchy’s “great support” for the creative writing programme at the Fighting Words centre in Dublin, which runs writing workshops for young people. It was set up in January 2009 by Roddy Doyle and Sean Love, former director of Amnesty Ireland.

“She just ‘got it’, when it came to encouraging kids to write . . . in a pragmatic way,” said Doyle. He remembered enjoying her journalism while he was still at school and how, when a copy boy at the Irish Times for two summers, in 1975 and 1976, “Maeve would always stop and chat even though she hadn’t a clue who I was,” he said.

Mary Maher said she would speak about how Maeve got into journalism at The Irish Times. “I will also be plugging the book,” she said, a reference to Maeve’s Times, a collection of Maeve Binchy’s articles edited by Róisín Ingle with Maher as editorial consultant, to be published shortly.

McWilliams recalled how, when he had the idea for a book festival in Dalkey, “the very first person I contacted was Maeve. I went around [to her house] for an audience and she just laughed. She said ‘why in God’s name didn’t we do this 40 years ago?’.”

She said “you ring four people and I’ll ring four people and we’ll ask them to ring four people”. The first person she rang was Eamon Morrissey, who agreed to do an excerpt from The Brother.

McWillams, whose wife Sian Smyth is organiser of the festival, now in its fourth year, said: “Maeve brought fun and enthusiasm and extraordinary support” to the festival. He recalled how “her own gig in Finnegan’s was always marked by real affection. Other writers inspired respect and admiration but Maeve inspired affection as well.”

The festival continues today and tomorrow with Edna O’Brien, John Boyne, Kevin Barry, Frank McGuinness, and others. dalkeybookfestival.org