Leaving Ardglass

By: William King

Publication Date: May 2008

(5 customer reviews)


Leaving Ardglass by William King

In 1961, MJ Galvin, an Irish building contractor in London, brings over his kid brother, Tom, to join the family business. Educated, sensitive and naive, and destined for the seminary, Tom witnesses a killing, learns about dead men and the start in Camden Town, experiences drunken brawls and the excitement of dancehall nights in the Galtymore. He faces a decision that will shape his future: will he join his successful brother and make a fortune, or follow an inner voice towards the priesthood?

The inner voice prevails, Tom enrolls as a seminarian, goes to Rome, becomes a monsignor and is tipped for a bishopric, only to renounce power and prestige, and be relegated to a quiet country parish disillusioned by the betrayal of principles within his Church as a new century dawns.

Leaving Ardglass is powerful family saga evoking the tensions and transformations within a new Ireland as traditional values give way to consumerism and one man’s odyssey becomes everyman’s.

‘One of the best novels to have come out of Ireland in a long time. It chronicles not just a personal and spiritual journey but the state of a nation over 40 years. Outstanding.’ John Boland, Irish Independent

‘Leaving Ardglass gives us a stunning insight into Church politics, the highs and lows of serving God, and the confusions and contradictions that modern Ireland has foisted on all of us.’ – Joe Duffy, Mail on Sunday

‘A finely written and brave book that throws up uncomfortable truths and interesting parallels between hidden worlds driven by ambitious men determined to survive.’ – Dermot Bolger, Sunday Business Post


WILLIAM KING was born in Kilflynn, County Kerry in 1945. He studied at University College Dublin and Holy Cross College, Clonliffe, Dublin. He is now parish priest at Corpus Christi, Drumcondra. He is author of a bestselling novel, The Strangled Impulse (1997),Swansong (2001) and Is That All There Is? (2013).

Also available as an ebook

5 reviews for Leaving Ardglass

  1. Lilliput Press

    “This is an excellent story of Tom, a young Irishman, who, in his student days works as a building labourer in London in the 1960s and goes on, subsequently, to become a Catholic priest in Ireland. It describes the life of the building worker as well as the shadier side of the industry.
    Tom rises rapidly within the Church, but becomes disillusioned with the politics and in-fighting within the organisation.
    The story is beautifully written. It explores, without holding back, corruption wherever it exists in the building industry and in the Church. It is a fascinating story which holds your attention from beginning to end.” E P FARRELL

  2. Lilliput Press

    “This is a highly readable account of one man’s passage through life in modern Ireland. The story moves from the miseries of the Irish navvies in post war London to the heady days of the Celtic Tiger.

    The twist is that the narrator is a Catholic priest, first trained in the heady Sixties, turning his back on the riches he could have had, to accept that he had a calling of a higher order. Or did he really? Forsaking ambition to gain earthly riches, he turns his ambition to becoming a bishop in the Church (shades of the sixties film, The Cardinal).

    To tell you the rest will spoil a good story for you. Read it for yourself.

    Just four stars, as I thought the ending rather weak, but getting there was reading pleasure. Unlike another reviewer, I read the book very quickly. Not a page turner in the Geoffrey Archer sense, but it gets very close!” LESLIE

  3. Lilliput Press

    “Some books tell a story, others – rare ones – recreate a world. This one is in the second category. Why isn’t the country buzzing with the news of what a brilliant book this is?
    The background is the life of the Irish labourers in London in the 1950s, and their exploitation by Irish ‘Subbies’, middle men.” MALACHI O’DOHERTY

  4. Lilliput Press

    “An excellent novel of priesthood and the loneliness of its day to day ministry.”

  5. Lilliput Press

    “King offers a lively and absorbing look at the moral quandaries that grow from the intersection of Irish history and religion.” — Booklist

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Weight 0.5 kg
Dimensions 215 × 136 mm
Publication Date

May 2008


Paperback, 272pp