Benedict Kiely: A great Irish writer remembered

Book review: Short stories and essays about the Omagh writer in the centenary of his birth

Benedict Kiely: could unfold a rambling tale on the radio with wit and charm. Photograph: Cyril Byrne

Benedict Kiely: could unfold a rambling tale on the radio with wit and charm. Photograph: Cyril Byrne

Readers of a certain generation will well remember, as I do, the voice of Benedict Kiely from his many talks on Sunday Miscellany on RTÉ radio. The pain of entering the world of a Sunday morning was eased and enabled by the mellifluous northern tones of Ben Kiely as he unfolded a rambling tale with wit and charm –a welcome temporary relief from the news and brutal headlines about the North that started every other day of the week.

What always amazed me was how, despite the fact that Kiely’s stories never went in a straight line but meandered into numerous literary and historical byways, they always came to a strong and satisfying conclusion that made sense of everything that had gone before. (His present-day successor, I would say, is Michael Harding.)

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