Sunday, October 15, 2006


Surrounded by writers: my mother published fifty books, my sister is a poet, my wife has written a history book, my daughters have published stories and studied Creative Writing ... and now my grandmother Geraldine Plunkett Dillon, despite having died in 1986, has published a 342-page book of memoirs (All in the Blood, A. & A. Farmar, Dublin 2006; ISBN-10: 1-899047-26-3; ISBN-13: 978-1-899047-26-0). The book is edited with tact and expertise by my cousin Honor O Brolchain. The main reason why people might want to read it is because Geraldine's brother Joseph Mary Plunkett, poet and revolutionary, was one of the signatories of the 1916 Proclamation and was executed for his part in the Easter Rising in Dublin. Maybe also because it captures the end of the Edwardian era in Ireland, and contains many vivid and sometimes scurrilous comments on events and people of the time (including members of her own immediate circle: her mother the Countess comes badly out of the book, and that much-loved national icon Grace Gifford, tragic wife of Joe Plunkett, is harshly portrayed). The Plunketts were a highly eccentric, occasionally deranged, family group. I remember my grandmother as a dangerous and caustic old lady, reading Private Eye in the nursing home where she died aged 94. She was always wonderful company but my feelings towards her were mixed: she had been mean to my mother, yet my mother loved her without quarter. In an epilogue Honor offers a just and loving portrait of this multi-talented woman:

"Gerry was a gourmet cook, a dressmaker, embroiderer, carpenter, plumber and electrician. She kept cows, goats, pigs, hens and ducks, could tan a hide, cure bacon and make costumes and sets. By temperament she was busy, impatient, not violent but mildly explosive and endlessly inventive. She had an extraordinarily active brain -- in later years she would sit in front of the television, arguing with it, playing double Patience or Bezique and reading (at great speed) novels in French or the Book of Job, Tristram Shandy or Francis Thompson, Georgette Heyer or detective stories or the latest book by an old comrade while drinking strange concoctions [...] She moved to a nursing home when she was ninety-one and started writing her memoirs all over again. [...] She was not perfect but she was outstandingly good. She said you needed a sense of humour to survive all that her family had been through; she had one and she did."

Wednesday, October 04, 2006


Penguin have scheduled the mass-market paperback of THE GROUNDS for 4 January 2007. A good day: our 33rd wedding anniversary. I'm one of the Irish generation that married young. Very young. Would do it again if she'd have me.

To mark the launch, I'm enhancing my two sites: and -- the latter being the web offering of the fictional university featuring in THE GROUNDS. Oddly enough, a presumably real librarian on the web claims to have visited the King's College Dublin campus, while one London lawyer is described as a graduate of the place. Life overtaking Art.

The Cormac Millar site has recently gained a listing of more than fifty Irish crime writers. Advertising my competitors? There's plenty of room in cyberspace.