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Liam O’Flaherty – one of Ireland’s greatest novelists and short storytellers

We regularly stock novels by Liam O’Flaherty such as Thy Neighbour’s Wife, The Black Soul, The Informer, Mr. Gilhooley, The Wilderness, The Assassin, Return of the Brute, The Ecstasy of Angus, Famine and Insurrection. Short stories such as The Sniper, Dúil, Spring Sowing, The Tent, The Mountain Tavern and Two Lovely Beasts. Children’s books The Fairy Goose and Two Other Stories, The Wild Swan and Other Stories. Non-fiction A Cure for Unemployment and Shame The Devil.

Liam O’Flaherty is considered to be one of Ireland’s greatest novelists and short storytellers, mainly from a socialist perspective. He was born in Inishmore, the largest of the Aran Islands in 1896. The Irish language was widely spoken in the area, but according to O’Flaherty, Irish was not approved at home by his father. This caused a rift in the family home and O’Flaherty rebelled, convincing the rest of his family to speak Irish. At school, O’Flaherty was mentored by his teacher David O’Callaghan. Honeing the craft of writing and installing a separatist patriotism belief system that he carried with him throughout his career. O’Flaherty studied at Blackrock College, he later enrolled in classics and philosophy at University College Dublin. In both colleges, he attempted to form a troop of Irish Volunteers.

At the age of sixteen, he won a gold medal from an organisation in Philadelphia for a piece written in Irish. Several years later, he pawned this medal to fund travling. In 1916 he joined the British Army as a member of the Irish Guards and was badly injured during the Battle of Langemarck, near Ypres in West Flanders. The shell shock he suffered profoundly affected his mental health at various times throughout his life.

After the War of Independence in Dublin, O’Flaherty left Ireland on July 9th, 1922 and moved to London where and became destitute and jobless. He started writing in 1923 and published his first short story, The Sniper. His first novel soon followed called Thy Neighbour’s Wife.
In 1925 he scored immediate commercial success with The Informer. The House of Gold published by Jonathan Cape in 1929 was the first novel banned by the Irish Free State, for alleged indecency. In 1935 his cousin, legendary Hollywood producer John Ford made the famous film adaptation of the The Informer.

O’Flaherty liked to travel and visited the USSR, Cuba, South America, Canada and Europe before settling in California where he met his partner Kitty Tailer in 1940. The couple returned to Ireland in 1952. He died on 7 September 1984, aged 88, in Dublin and his ashes were scattered on the cliffs of his native Inis Mór.

Liam O’Flaherty is considered one of the greatest Irish writers of the 20th century, although opinion are mixed. His ability to describe visual beauty fiction and complexities of human nature in prose has cement a powerful legacy.


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