George O’Brien

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George O'BrienGeorget O’Brien was born in Enniscorthy, Co. Wexford, Ireland in 1945 and was educated at Ruskin College, Oxford, and at the UNiversity of Warwick. He has published three volumes of memoirs, The Village of Longing (1987), Dancehall Days (1998), Out of Our Minds (1994), and two books on Irish playwright Brian Friel, Brian Friel (1990) and Brian Friel: A Reference Guide (1995) in addition to numerous articles on contemporary Irish writing. He is Professor Emeritus of English at Georgetown University.

From The Village of Longing

It’s teatime.

Chrissy, my aunt, is slicing a cottage loaf with a crackle and spray of delicious black crust. She’s humming a song-hit, “Shrimp Boats,” or maybe the new Rosemary Clooney, “Mambo Italiano.” Her brother George–Georgie, we call him, or often, “Geo”: “jaw”–will be in from work soon. The meaty tang of his dinner sits in the steamy kitchen air, heavy male aroma (Geo is all smells: paint, putty, sawdust, Brylcreem, booze). At the sink, Mam, my grandmother, is int eh posture I will see her in forever, crouched slightly, head bent over some chose, wisps of grey hair bothersomely hanging around her hand, handsome face.

I wonder if she’s going to Lyons’s tonight.

Dor a year or more when I was nine or ten (in the pages that follow I’m seven going on twelve) she regularly visited Bid and WIlly Lyons after the chapel. The chapel came first, needless to say. Mam wouldn’t dream of missing morning mass at the convent or of closing the day without “paying a visit.” Off with the apron and the dull grey skirt, on with the cloche hat and kid gloves, and away with her, hail, rain or snow, her crisp gait and erect bearing announcing to Lismore at large the uprightness and quiet implacability of her faith.


Reading with Reginald Shepherd | March 23, 2000