Literary Programme 2017

Dermot Bolger & Thomas Lynch

Dermot Bolger & Thomas Lynch

Dermot Bolger
Thomas Lynch

Bantry Library

Sat 15 July 2017



Dermot Bolger and Thomas Lynch are both widely published across a number of forms and are well known for both their poetry and their fiction.

Dermot Bolger will read from his latest novel The Lonely Sea And Sky.

Myles Foley gripped my soaked jumper. ‘Before his ship sank he was a Nazi: now he’s a drowning sailor. Out here, we’re all sailors. Your father and grandfather understood that. Are you going to disgrace their memory?’

Part historical fiction, part extraordinary coming-of-age tale, The Lonely Sea and Sky charts the maiden voyage of fourteen-year-old Jack Roche aboard a tiny Wexford ship, the Kerlogue, on a treacherous wartime journey to Portugal.

After his father’s ship is sunk on this same route, Jack must go to sea to support his family – swapping Wexford’s small streets for Lisbon’s vibrant boulevards: where every foreigner seems to be a refugee or a spy, and where he falls under the spell of Kateřina, a Czech girl surviving on her wits.

Dermot’s latest novel is based on a real-life rescue in 1943, when the Kerlogue’s crew risked their lives to save 168 drowning German sailors – members of the navy that had killed Jack’s father. Forced to choose who to save and who to leave behind, the Kerlogue grows so dangerously overloaded that no one knows if they will survive amid the massive Biscay waves.

A brilliant portrayal of those unarmed Irish ships that sailed alone through hazardous waters; of young romance and a boy encountering a world where every experience is intense and dangerous, this is Dermot’s most spellbinding novel, and the work of a master storyteller who is one of Ireland’s best-known novelists, playwrights and poets.

‘A full-bodied barnstormer, a coming-of-age tale of wanderlust ideal for readers aged 12 to 92. It is an ocean-going epic of sacrifice and derring-do against the backdrop of war-torn Europe.’ – Irish Independent

Bolger’s unforced style sings with colour, humour and excitement. But it’s the way he smuggles “the bigger themes” into the narrative hull that grants this historical fiction “modern classic” status.’ – Irish Independent

‘For those who love a whopping good yarn, The Lonely Sea and Sky is a must. It has echoes of Treasure Island and as a summer read, ranks with the best. It is a book the reader regrets finishing.’ –  Des Kenny, The Galway Advertiser

Dermot Bolger is one of Ireland’s best known writers. His twelve previous novels include The Journey Home, Father’s Music, The Valparaiso Voyage, The Family on Paradise Pier, A Second Life, New Town Soul, The Fall of Ireland and Tanglewood. Dermot’s latest novel The Lonely Sea and Sky was published in 2016. His first play, The Lament for Arthur Cleary, received the Samuel Beckett Award and an Edinburgh Fringe First Award.

Also a poet, his ninth collection of poems, The Venice Suite: A Voyage Through Loss, was published in 2012 and his New and Selected Poems, That Which is Suddenly Precious, appeared from New Island in 2015. He devised the best-selling collaborative novels, Finbar’s Hotel and Ladies Night at Finbar’s Hotel, and has edited numerous anthologies, including The Picador Book of Contemporary Irish Fiction. Dermot Bolger also writes for most of Ireland’s leading newspapers, and in 2012 was named Commentator of the Year at the Irish Newspaper awards. Dermot’s adaption of James Joyce’s Ulysses will be staged by the Abbey Theatre during the 2017 Dublin Theatre Festival.

Thomas Lynch will read a selection of his work including poetry collections The Sin-eater: A Breviary (Salmon 2013) and Walking Papers (Jonathan Cape 2010) and short stories Apparition & Late Fictions (Cape 2010).

‘In The Sin-eater, Lynch once again brings together his intricate knowledge of the body and the soul, and the result is a luminous, humane collection that sees religion as a question mark, not a period.’Chicago Tribune

‘The stories and novella here are gifts of precision, narratives with the poise to depict entire lives unstrung by the end of things. Lynch’s aptitude for fiction comes as no shock; he’s been a teller of tales all along, his poems and essays occupied by vivid characters siphoned from the world he moves through.’ New York Times review of Apparition & Late Fictions

‘[Lynch’s] essays, collected in “The Undertaking” and “Bodies in Motion and at Rest,” are among the loveliest in the language, worthy of Hazlitt and Lamb. They expertly fuse storytelling and poetics, the metaphysical and the quotidian, to reveal how death deprives and living gives.’New York Times

Thomas Lynch is a writer and a funeral director. His collections of poems include Skating with Heather Grace (1987), Grimalkin & Other Poems (1994), Still Life in Milford (2000), Walking Papers (Jonathan Cape 2010) and The Sin-eater: A Breviary (Salmon Poetry 2011). The Undertaking (1997), his first book of nonfiction, won The American Book Award, The Heartland Prize for Nonfiction and was a finalist for the National Book Award. It is published in eight languages. Bodies in Motion and at Rest (1998) won the Great Lakes Book Award and Booking Passage (2005), was named a 2006 Notable Book by the Library of Michigan as was his book of short stories, Apparition and Late Fictions, in 2011. He is the recipient of The Pushcart Prize, Fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts and Michigan Endowment for the Arts and in 2008 won the Denise Levertov Award from Image Magazine. He was awarded an honorary doctorate in humanities from Oakland University. Thomas’ work has appeared in Harper’s, The New Yorker, The Atlantic, Poetry, Granta, Newsweek, Esquire, The New York Times, The Times of London and The Irish Times and has been broadcast by NPR, the BBC and RTE in Ireland.

The PBS/Frontline film, The Undertaking based on his book won the 2008 Emmy Award for Arts & Culture Documentary. The Irish filmmaker, Cathal Black’s documentary, Learning Gravity, filmed in Michigan and West Clare, and based on Thomas’ Booking Passage: We Irish and Americans, won the Michigan Prize at the Traverse City Film Festival in 2008. 

Thomas has read and lectured across the US, throughout Europe, Canada, Australia and New Zealand and has taught at Wayne State University’s Department of Mortuary Science, in the Graduate Creative Writing Program at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, and at Emory University’s Candler School of Theology where he taught with Dr. Thomas G. Long, with whom he co-authored The Good Funeral: Death, Grief and the Community of Care, published in 2013 by Westminster John Knox Press

Since 1974 Thomas has been the funeral director in Milford, Michigan. He divides his time between homes in Michigan, and in Moveen, Co. Clare.

Dermot’s photo is by Peter O’Doherty and Thomas’ photo is by Brenda Fitzsimons, Irish Times