The Burning of Brinsley MacNamara

Rated 5.00 out of 5 based on 1 customer rating
(1 customer review)


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

Out of stock

1 review for The Burning of Brinsley MacNamara

  1. Rated 5 out of 5

    Lilliput Press

    “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? Well, basically the inhabitants of a small Irish town in Delvin believed themselves featured as the narrowminded spiteful people in the book. Instead of rising above it, they decided to take their vengance on the author’s father, the local teacher. The author was safely living away in Dublin. Padraic O’Farrell delves into many areas and gives factual accounts of real life cases that the novel may have been based on. For example, in real life one pregnant lady’s reputation was deliberately ruined on the advice of a solicitor by her wealthy lover who brought her away for a romantic weekend to Dublin. She was then uncermoniously dumped after coming back to the village and labelled a prostitute by sanctimonious neighbours. A similar story featured in the novel.
    A lesson for novelists not to base their characters too close to people they know!” LEO LENNIE

Add a review

Weight 0.25 kg



215 x 135mm, 152pp