The Thirsty Ghosts

By: Emer Martin

Publication Date: 14 September 2023



Emer Martin is an original, radical and vital voice in Irish writing who challenges the history of silence, institutional lies, evasion and the mistreatment of women across mid twentieth-century Ireland.

Two families intertwine in this energetic new work, an epic intergenerational saga that began with The Cruelty Men (2018) and continues here as punk rockers and Catholic laundries collide and spiral forward into a post-colonial Ireland still haunted by history. Interweaving scenes from Ireland’s mythological past, the Tudor plantations, the Magdalene laundries and the 1980s, The Thirsty Ghosts is epic in scope but intimate in focus.

The Lyons, professionals in a newly independent state, are attacked by paramilitaries in their family home in Tyrone. The displaced eccentric O’Conaills, traumatized by industrial schools and laundries, find themselves in leafy Dublin 4. There’s a servant girl who meets Henry VIII, a Lithuanian Jewish family who become part of the fabric of Dublin, and a wild young girl who escapes the laundry only to stumble into a psycho pimp.
Related with dark humor and high literary style, The Thirsty Ghosts is a revelatory exploration of Ireland; its themes of power, class, fertility, violence and deep love are as universal as the old stories that illuminate the characters’ lives.



Emer Martin is a Dubliner who has lived in Paris, London, the Middle East and New York, and is now living in California where she teaches writing, painting and resisting. Her first novel, Breakfast in Babylon, won the Kerry Group Irish Novel of the Year Award 1996. Her second, More Bread or I’ll Appear, was published in 1999. Baby Zero, her third novel, appeared in 2007. She was awarded the Guggenheim Fellowship in 2000 and founded the publishing cooperative Rawmeash in 2014. The Cruelty Men was published by the Lilliput Press in 2018 and was shortlisted for the Kerry Group Irish Novel of the Year Award in 2019.

Weight 0.500 kg
Dimensions 216 × 136 mm


Publication Date

14 September 2023