August 2012        

Organising a Liam O’Flaherty revival

Do you ever get that feeling while reading a book that nothing much has changed since it was written—even if this may go back decades, even centuries? Two readers in Galway shared this experience on rereading the works of Liam O’Flaherty around the time of the last referendum. It is truly startling how little has been learnt from our very own recent history.
     What Liam O’Flaherty reveals in his remarkable novels is the nature of class society in Ireland: colonial power and its henchmen, as well as the strata of the new Irish state. His book Famine is not about suffering and starvation, it is about genocide, betrayal by the middle classes, and resistance.
     Invariably the question arises, Why have his works been manoeuvred out of the canon? Why haven’t they been republished for the new generation to appropriate as their literary tradition? Equally, it is of interest why some of his works were never published or never republished. (My copy of The House of Gold is a German publisher’s English-language edition of 1929.)
     Among our readers there must be interest too in the exact details and duration of O’Flaherty’s membership of the Communist Party in the early days, and the party’s attitude to his taking over of the Rotunda in Dublin and flying the Red Flag over it for three days. How much research is there into those aspects of O’Flaherty’s work that interest us? Is there a decent biography of O’Flaherty?
     Margaretta D’Arcy and Jenny Farrell are hoping to organise a gathering in Galway City Library some time in the autumn to bring together people interested in an O’Flaherty revival with the purpose of collecting information that people may have about his life and the fate of his works.
     We would very much welcome your thoughts, ideas and suggestions on this. So, if you have anything you feel is worth mentioning, please e-mail We look forward to your thoughts and will keep you informed of any gathering.

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