Edna O’Brien. Photograph: Eamonn McCabe/Getty

The most striking aspect of Edna O’Brien’s short stories, aside from the consistent mastery with which they are executed, is their diversity. This wri(...)

John McGahern,  near his home in Leitrim, in 1990. After his mother’s death when he was 10, McGahern and his siblings moved into the Cootehill barracks to live with their father, Frank, wh was a sergeant there for many yeares. Photogaph: Frank Miller

It was the inspiration for John McGahern’s first novel and now the writer’s close association with the barracks in Cootehall, Co Roscommon, is to be c(...)

There was never anything patrician or remote  about Heaney. Photograph: Bryan O’Brien

This is a moment of profound communal grief, a cold knife thrust into the hearts of us all. The loss of Seamus Heaney will be felt throughout the coun(...)

At the unveiling in Nice of a plaque commemorating James Joyce: Ambassador Paul Kavanagh, John Montague, Mayor of Nice Christian Estrosi and Bono

On Tuesday, unveiling a plaque commemorating James Joyce in Nice, the estimable John Montague said something at once obvious and striking. Joyce, he s(...)

‘Guy de Maupassant  the realist saw the mean-minded pettiness of men, the civil servants and peasants with hearts as dried as peas.’ Photograph:  Hulton Archive/Getty Images

His was a vile death, the madness caused by syphilis and its related physical horrors. It was an end that he knew he was facing and had tried to avoid(...)

John McGahern photographed near his home in Co Leitrim in 1990. Photograph: Frank Miller/The Irish Times

Revolutionary disillusionment is a theme which recurs in much of John McGahern’s work and clearly reflected his father’s experience both as a V(...)

‘A new valve, three by-passes and a week in a medically-induced coma later, I lay in a private room looking out on beautiful Dublin Bay, ferries going east and west across the calm waters. But all I wanted was to be able to look out on my own back garden.’ Photograph: Frank Miller

When I reached 70 I felt great. I even had a party, which is not my style at all. Thanks to modern medicine I had already lived four years long(...)