• Blog

    The Branchman gets its Belfast launch

    My new novel, The Branchman, got a splendid launch at the Crescent Arts Centre in Belfast on Friday 16th November, alongside new works of poetry by Natasha Cuddington and Grainne Tobin, also published by Arlen House. Introducing the novel, Belfast journalist, novelist and memoir-writer Malachi O’Doherty called it ‘a rattling good story’ that ‘more than being just a story … is a profile of Ireland at a dodgy time, a comment on who we are and where we have come from’. The full launch speech follows:     “Imagine a time in a country’s history after it has agonised for years about its place in a Union of nations. Some…

  • Reviews

    First print review in for The Branchman – and it’s a corker

    Murder and subversion in Ballinasloe  Galway Advertiser, Thu, Nov 08, 2018 – Kevin Higgins NESSA O’MAHONY is primarily a poet, the author of three well received collections, and a verse novel. Much of her previous writing has interrogated the subjects of family and history, often dealing in quite innovative ways with how the two intersect. In her 2014 poetry collection, Her Father’s Daughter, she published a parallel sequence of poems – one relating to her relationship with her own father, whose decline and passing she charted with sometimes aching candour, the second exploring the life of her grandfather, whose story emerges through her mother’s memories and O’Mahony’s own research. Her…

  • Blog,  Poems

    Remembering Our Dead

      100 years ago today (24th October 1918), my great uncle, Michael Walsh, a Private in the 115th regiment of the 3rd Battalion of the US Army, was killed by shrapnel during the Battle of the Meuse-Argonne. He was three weeks past his 30th birthday, and had only arrived in France the previous June. Members of my family, led by my sister, Finola, who has done extensive research into Michael’s life and death, are visiting his grave at the Meuse Argonne American War Cemetery.       Age shall not weary them in memory of Private Michael Walsh, 24/10/1918 St. Enda’s in its prime; sky clear, air crisp, the sheddings…

  • Blog

    The Branchman debuts at Dublin’s Brand New Crime Writing Festival

    Dublin has a brand new crime writing festival. Murder One takes place over the weekend of 2nd-4th November, at the Smock Alley theatre, and features some of the leading crime writers from Ireland and abroad. Headliners are Michael Connelly (whose show is now sold out), Lynda La Plante and Peter James, but there’s plenty of home-grown talent too. I’m delighted to say I’ll be reading as part of the Speakers Corner sessions that take place throughout the weekend. I’m up first on the Saturday morning, at 11am, and will be reading from The Branchman, my new crime novel. http://www.murderone.ie/author-programme/free-readings-in-the-banquet-hall/ This is the first time an event like this has ever happened…

  • Blog,  Features

    The man behind the Branchman – Michael McCann

    Five years ago I began to research the life of my grandfather, Michael McCann, a man who has haunted much of my creative writing since I first heard my mother’s stories about his exploits during the War of Independence and Civil War, not to mention the first World War. I’d written about his war record in two poetry collections, but now I wanted to explore his fictional potential for a piece of crime fiction, and so honed in on his experiences as a policeman in newly independent Ireland. Grandad left the National Army in 1924 and, like many other ex-soldiers, joined the nascent Garda Síochána. To get further background on…

  • Poems

    I was delighted to be asked to contribute ten poems to UCD’s splendid Irish Poetry Reading Archive. The link to the Youtube recordings are here: http://libguides.ucd.ie/ipra/readingsotor

  • Blog,  Features

    A novel new experience

    Although I’ve focussed on poetry throughout my writing career, I’ve always been an avid reader of fiction, and much of my poetry has tended towards the narrative. So it was only a matter of time before I ventured into the brave new world of fiction writing. That I should want to write crime came as no surprise to me; my earliest reading as a young teenager was the novels of Agatha Christie; I worked my way through P.D. James, Ruth Rendell and though I never read Colin Dexter’s novels, I became addicted to the TV adaptation of his Chief Inspector Morse (and the sequels and prequels that followed). I’ve always…

  • Poems

    For Mother’s Day

    Mammy at Masada If I were to remember you anywhere it would be here, cliff-top, 59 metres above Dead Sea-level, seated on rock, light bouncing off the white glare of your sun-hat, breath spasming in your 85th year of brooking no obstacles. We’d heard the foundation myth on the way up: the no surrender, the 960 men, women and children opting for glorious death. You opt for glorious life, gasp the thin air left in your body, grasp the chance to rise, resume the tour, run upstream of tourists swarming the citadel.

  • Blog,  Features,  Workshops

    What we remember, what we choose to forget

    On Easter Monday 24th April, 1916, a group of some 1,000 Irishmen and women came into Dublin and occupied a series of buildings around the city. Their aim was to overthrow the British Government in Ireland by military force and to proclaim an Irish Republic. Over the next seven days, over 450 people died, 2,000 were wounded and the centre of Dublin largely destroyed by shelling. 15 of the leaders of the uprising were executed; a 16th was executed later that summer. On the same day in April 1916, the second Battalion of the Royal Munster Fusiliers was stationed in France, awaiting orders for the next big push that was…