Richard Hayward 1892 -1964
By: Paul Clements
Richard Hayward was one of Ireland’s best-loved cultural figures of the mid-twentieth century. A popular Irish travel writer, actor and singer, he led an intense and productive life, leaving behind a remarkable body of work through his writing and recordings. However, since his death in a car crash in1964, the man who was a celebrated Irish household name has suffered neglect.
Born in Southport, Lancashire, Hayward was raised in Larne on the Antrim coast. He buried his English past and devoted his days to promoting Ireland. As a pioneering filmmaker, he appeared in the first black-and-white Irish ‘talkies’ and broke new ground in his BBC radio work alongside Tyrone Guthrie. On Radio Éireann, he sang with Delia Murphy and recorded with Decca and HMV. In his travel books and enthusiasms, Hayward opened up an unknown Ireland to thousands of people.
Published to mark the fiftieth anniversary of his death, Romancing Ireland draws extensively on Hayward’s original notebooks, private papers and hitherto unpublished letters. They reveal a man with an explosive temper whose detractors envied his success. Paul Clements brings to life the flamboyant personality, laced with hubris, of a largely forgotten figure who contributed a cosy and unthreatening narrative to the construction of an Irish cultural world. Romancing Ireland exposes fascinating details and rare photographs that have lain unseen for decades. It uncovers an extraordinary man with limitless energy and passionate perceptions, who captured a newly independent Ireland in all its changing hues.
Maureen O’Hara dips into Hayward’s Corrib travel book during the filming of The Quiet Man in 1951.
‘This detailed and affectionate account of Richard Hayward’s life restores a measure of prominence to a long-neglected figure.’ – The Irish Times
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Paul Clements is a literary journalist and author of the biography Romancing Ireland: Richard Hayward 1892-1964 published by the Lilliput Press in 2014 and adapted for BBC television. Shannon Country: A River Journey Through Time is his fifth discursive travel book about Ireland. The others are: Irish Shores: A Journey Round the Rim of Ireland (1993), The Height of Nonsense: The Ultimate Irish Road Trip (2005), Burren Country: Travels Through an Irish Limestone Landscape (2011) and Wandering Ireland’s Wild Atlantic Way: From Banba’s Crown to World’s End (2016). A contributing editor to Fodor’s Essential Ireland and The Rough Guide to Ireland, he also writes local history book reviews and ‘Irishman’s Diaries’ for The Irish Times. He has written a critical study and edited a Festschrift about the writer and historian Jan Morris. His travel writing has taken him to many parts of France and in 2018 he received the Atout France award for the Best Culture Feature about the Lascaux Caves in the Dordogne. A former BBC journalist, he is a Fellow of Green Templeton College, Oxford and lives in Belfast.