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Vintage Nell: The McCafferty Reader

By: Elgy Gillespie

Publication Date: November 2005


Vintage Nell: The McCafferty Reader by Elgy Gillespie


‘Contraception, abortion, divorce, gay rights, the war with Britain. The fire has burned out, the smoke is drifting away, and we begin to see clearly now. When the next millennium comes the landscape for the young will have vastly changed … Forward to the future, sisters and brothers.’ (from ‘Divorce: Split Happens’, 1995)

Feminist, socialist, trenchant social commentator, Nell has seen and lived it all. From the early days of the civil rights movement and the revolutionary fervour of Free Derry to the bitter conflict at the Garvaghy Road and the Siege of Sarajevo, she has been both a participant in and a witness to history in the making. Writing about it all in her own way, and as nobody else ever could, the force of her passionate pen has won her a place as one of Ireland’s best-loved journalists.

Here are moving accounts of the numbed aftermath of Bloody Sunday; of the lonely death of Ann Lovett in 1984 and of the shock of the Kerry Babies case a year later. And in excerpts from her acclaimed ‘In the Eyes of the Law’ series we meet Maoists, Hare Krishna monks, wife-beaters and ‘adult consenting males’ confronting the Dublin District Courts.

Taken from sources ranging from The Irish Times, Irish Press and Sunday Tribune, to Hot Press, Kerry’s Eye and Magill, Vintage Nell: The McCafferty Reader harvests the strange fruits of Irish social and cultural life from the seventies to the twenty-first century. It features classic accounts of the Pope’s Visit in 1979 and of the ‘dirty protest’ of women prisoners in Armagh Prison – and sympathetic, raw, incisive cameo-portraits of Ian Paisley, Martin McGuinness, Raymond Gilmour, Bishop Casey, Mary Robinson, Winnie Mandela, Mo Mowlam and others.

From the serious – ‘Reservoir Prods’, ‘Chernobyl’ and ‘The Life and Death of Mary Norris’ – to the witty and satiric – ‘Silent Night’, ‘Golden Balls’ and ‘Jukebox’ (on Elvis) – Vintage Nell concludes with a poignant description of her mother Lily’s death in December 2004, and showcases the best work of this prodigiously talented writer.


Elgy Gillespie, a food writer and journalist, worked on the Irish Times from 1971 to 1986. She freelances from her current home in San Francisco, and is author of the Rough Guide to San Francisco Restaurants and a cookbook You Say Potato!

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Weight 0.5 kg
Dimensions 215 × 160 mm
Publication Date

November 2005


Paperback, 256pp