The Burning of Brinsley MacNamara
Publication Date: November 1989
The Burning of Brinsley MacNamara by Padraic O’Farrell
The Valley of the Squinting Windows (1918), Brinsley MacNamara’s first published novel, so enraged the Westmeath community in which he lived that the book was publicly burned, its author humiliated and his father, the local schoolteacher, boycotted and driven into exile. MacNamara (1890-1963) was never to live in the Irish midlands again but wrote about it for the rest of his days in an outpouring of fiction and drama. No writer has ever delineated the rural Irish mentality with such precision.
Where was The Valley?
Whom did it portray?
Why did it cause such offence?
The extraordinary story behind the book – its origins, the burning, the school boycott, the trial in Dublin – is a real-life drama as strange, poignant and compelling as the book itself. That story is told here for the first time, interwoven with an account of the author’s early life and subsequent career, and backed by original research. The Burning of Brinsley MacNamara sets the record straight after generations of conjecture, and lays to rest the ghosts of The Valley.
‘Excellent… O’Farrell presents a balanced and sympathetic account of a case which began as a burst of local anger but can also be seen as a symbol of the Ireland of its time.’ – Sean Dunne, Cork Examiner
‘O’Farrell has done a magnificent job in chronicling the social, historical, religious and cultural forces that came into play.’ – Seamus Hosey, Irish Stage and Screen
‘This factual book gives a fair and painstakingly detailed account of the dreadful backlash after the publication of an infamous Irish novel: “The valley of the squinting windows”. A teacher was boycotted and publicaly beaten, the novels were burned and a courtcase was taken over the events that followed. Why?’ – Customer review
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Padraic O’Farrell was born in Staplestown, Donadea, County Kildare. One of Ireland’s best-known journalists and most prolific authors, he was a regular contributor to the Irish Times, Irish Independent, Sunday Independent and Irish Examiner. His thirty-five books include The Burning of Brinsley MacNamara, a study of the controversy surrounding the publication ofThe Valley of the Squinting Windows; the bestselling Rebel Heart, a fictional account of Michael Collins’s love affair with Kitty Kiernan; Who’s Who in the Irish War of Independence and Civil War 1916-23; The Blacksmith of Ballinalee; and Ancient Irish legends. He also wrote and directed a number of plays, including Matchmaking, based on the work of John B. Keane andScullabogue, a drama about the 1798 Rebellion. His play Kitty, about the women in the lives of Michael Collins and Sean MacEoin toured throughout Ireland, including performances in Cork’s Everyman Palace Theatre and Dublin’s Andrew’s Lane Studio.
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