In the Season of the Daisies

By: Tom Phelan

Publication Date: January 1993

(5 customer reviews)


In the Season of the Daisies by Tom Phelan

The story of Seanie Doolin, surviving twin of a brutal civil-war murder in the Irish midlands, forms the core of this extraordinary debut novel. In 1948 the Town, shadowed by its buried past, prepares for a visit from de Valera and President O’Kelly. Over twenty-four hours events and individuals converge as, one by one, the men who were there that dreadful night in 1921 speak out – schoolteacher, doctor, butcher, priest, victim – each with his own involuntary vision of hell.

Seanie Doolin, a man-child tortured by poetry and grief, roams the hills repeating one talismanic word, Camarawn. His pain and loss, the presence and purging of evil, love’s redemption, and the pathology of ancient animosities within ordinary lives, is conveyed in language that is simple, direct and emotionally devastating.

In the Season of the Daisies is a powerful work of literature which introduces a new voice to Irish fiction.

‘This first novel, an unforgettable exploration of the shattering effects of violence, belongs in most fiction collections.’ Library Journal

‘The deeply dark atmosphere, and the violence of it, and the movement between the characters, the terrified dance of them – all of that in combination, whatever you might call that – that never left me … this is one hell of a book.’ Keith Ridgway

‘Tom Phelan has taken a theme – the slaughter of innocence – and by dint of sheer lyric power, turned it into something you won’t forget for a very long time.’ John Dunne, The Irish Times

‘A writer of immense talent… This is literature of the highest calibre, tautly plotted and finely executed. No one with a serious interest in modern writing should miss it.’ Mike Hudson, Irish Echo

‘A novel of sheer lyrical power.’ Customer review


TOM PHELAN, who was born in the Irish midlands in 1940, went to St. Patricks Seminary, Carlow, in the early 1960s, was ordained and worked in England for several years. He migrated to the U.S.A. in 1970, attended the University of Seattle, and left the priesthood. He now lives on Long Island, New York, is married and has two children.


5 reviews for In the Season of the Daisies

  1. Lilliput Press

    “This is a haunting and provocative book that so artistically yet tangibly inhabits the minds of men who had been involved in the violence and complexities of the Irish troubles. The depth of ugliness in some characters is painful to absorb and almost beyond comprehension. Yet perhaps the distraught lives of Mr. Phelan’s characters are metaphor for the desperation of Irish situation itself. This is a beautiful yet rugged book. It would be great to see Mr. Phelan win the acclaim he so deserves.”

  2. Lilliput Press

    “A most unusual read which grows as you progress through the book. The individual characters build themselves as you go and so does the story. A very successful method and structure which is unusually effective. There are some very gruelling scenes and the underlying sadness and an appreciation of the way that ordinary people get caught up in violent acts almost against their wills and natures and then have to live with the consequences for the rest of their lives.

    It took me a little while to appreciate what Tom Phelan was doing but once I got the hang of it I sped through the book. His characters were very vividly drawn and sprang out of the pages at me.

    It was not what I expected but I would recommend it to the more serious reader who wants something a little different. I will remember this story for some time.” MICHAEL BOOTH

  3. Lilliput Press

    “I stumbled upon this book in a large barnes and noble in new york city. i’d never heard of tom phelan but i was taken by the the books title. this took place years ago and i can only say that this book , the characters and their suffering has stayed with me for years and years. this is not an easy rea but it is poetry in a non poetic format.
    the charcters suffer and you can’t help but inhale their suffer as you go along with them.
    years ago i read this book and it was brought bak to me as i’m reading ghosts of belfast by stuart neville.” NORMAN M NEWMAN

  4. Lilliput Press

    “Firstly, if you are after a light read to take with you on the train in the morning, you are looking in the wrong place. This book is not going to leave you feeling warm and fuzzy! It is rather more of an emotional endurance trial, but one well worth undertaking.

    The book’s immediate narrative is sublimely simple. Spread over the course of a single evening, it follows the mundane undertakings of a number of towns folk as they go about their business. However, this deceptively simple plot acts as a perfect frame for the deeper psychological issues exhibited by each of the main protagonists.

    The main focus of the book is rooted twenty seven years in the past, in which a petty IRA operation goes wrong. A young boy ‘Willie Doolin’ is brutally and callously murdered in front of his identical twin brother, who is left to go insane with grief. Twenty seven years later, the surviving members of the cell are left dealing with the repercussions of that terrible evening. Murder, alcoholism, and compulsive piety are some of the issues described as each character tries to come to terms with the unrelenting guilt brought on by their actions, or inactions. Throughout the story, the surviving twin ‘Seanie Doolin’ now forty years old but with the mind of a child, is ever present acting as a physical manifestation of the community’s guilt.

    The language of the book is unpretentious, allowing you to fully enter the mind of each character as the narrative modulates from person to person. Many of the descriptions are beautiful, and often painful to read. I found myself frequently leafing back in order to re-read particularly harrowing sequences with the same morbid fascination a child displays when peeling back a plaster to look at the injury concealed beneath!!

    The issues addressed in this book are both affecting, and topical. It tells how ordinary people can be made to commit atrocities through their own self righteous interpretations of patriotism. Tom Phelan has woven this story with subtlety, and lyrical strength. The result is a book that will play on your mind for a very, very long time…” A SCALA

  5. Lilliput Press

    “IN THE SEASON OF THE DAISIES is the first novel by Tom Phelan, an Irishman from County Laois and a former priest. It tells the story of Seanie Doolin, a young boy who witnesses a brutal act by the local cell of the IRA during the civil war in Ireland in 1921–the murder of his twin brother– and what happens to Seanie and the men who were there on that fateful night. It is both beautiful and heartbreaking. When it was published in the United States, the novel was chosen by Barnes & Noble for its “Discover Great New Writers” series. Tom Phelan is also the author of DERRYCLONEY (1999) and ISCARIOT. I highly recommend this novel, as well as his other two.”

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Weight 0.5 kg
Dimensions 136 × 215 mm
Publication Date

January 1993


Paperback, 226pp