Irish author and playwright Lee Dunne dies aged 86

Dubliner’s memoir of his early life, Goodbye to the Hill, was an instant bestseller

Writer Lee Dunne in  Dublin in 2002. Photograph: Frank Miller

Writer Lee Dunne in Dublin in 2002. Photograph: Frank Miller

 

Irish author and playwright Lee Dunne has died aged 86.

Christopher Lee Dunne was born in 1934, the fourth of seven children born to Mick and Katy Dunne of Mount Pleasant Buildings, a tenement slum in the area known as “The Hill” in Ranelagh.

A memoir of his early life in Dublin, Goodbye to the Hill, was an instant bestseller and scandalised the country with its frank depiction of sex and alcohol.

As Dunne himself remarked, when the book was published, there was no divorce in Ireland, contraception was illegal and even owning it could result in a prison sentence; an unmarried woman was likely not able to keep her baby; no woman had the right to choose; and being gay and proud was to risk being outcast by the community.

Second novel

Dunne also wrote radio scripts and plays for RTÉ, including Harbour Hotel, which was set in the fishing village of Kilmahon, and Convenience Corner.

His second novel, the semi-autobiographical A Bed in the Sticks, documented his time as a travelling entertainer.

Dunne is survived by his wife Maura and his children from his first marriage, Sarah, Peter and Jonathan.

A revival of Goodbye to the Hill is planned for 2022 with a script by best-selling Irish author and playwright Eoin Colfer.