Thomas McCarthy

For those interested in literature, [Poetry, Memory and the Party] is addictive reading material, offering unparalleled insight into the many joys and sundry frustrations of someone who determined early to devote himself to the pursuit of his literary vocation…. More detailed than a memoir, more compelling than an autobiography, a companion-piece to John McGahern’s Letters and Fintan O’Toole’s We Don’t Know Ourselves, the book gives an unrivalled account of life in Ireland over a 40-year period.

 Clíona Ní Riordain, The Irish Times

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Thomas McCarthy Thomas McCarthy was born in Cappoquin, County Waterford, in 1954. Educated at the local Convent of Mercy and at University College, Cork, he was a Fellow of the International Writing Program in Iowa in 1978/79. He worked at Cork City Libraries until 2014 when he withdrew to write full-time. He has published ten collections of poetry including The Sorrow Garden (1981), The Last Geraldine Officer (2009), Pandemonium (2016) and Prophecy (2019) as well as two novels and two books of non-fiction. Awards include The Patrick Kavanagh Award, The Alice Hunt Bartlett Prize, The Lawrence O’Shaughnessy Award for Poetry and the Annual Literary Award of the Ireland Funds. A member of Aosdána, he lives in Cork City. ​

Poetry, Memory and the Party

Journals 1974-2014

Forty years of intimate details of Thomas McCarthy’s life lived between a modest background and the ‘Big House’ of West Waterford and his immersion in the literary life of Cork against the troubles of a changing Ireland by one of Munster’s leading poets.

Though a student of John Montague and Seán Lucy at UCC, Thomas McCarthy’s weekends still belonged to West Waterford and the Victorian garden that he was replanting for its owner, Brigadier Denis FitzGerald, a grandson of the Duke of Leinster. Aware of the poverty of his own family background and conscious of the contrasting local Anglo-Irish world of the Brigadier, Molly Keane and W E D Allen, he began to keep a diary in order to make these worlds cohere.

Here are the elements of survival in an everyday Fianna Fáil society. Here is a poet’s life with its travels, encounters, youthful excitements, hyperbole and frustrations. Here are detailed encounters with Terence de Vere White, Robert Graves and Seamus Heaney, with the legendary Paul Engle at Iowa, with IRA prisoners and with Harold Macmillan’s Private Secretary. Here also is the life of Ireland as it unfolds over forty years of turmoil, politics, publishing and art.

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