James Harpur & Billy O’Callaghan

Time and date

Thursday 13 July 2023

1:00 pm


Bantry Library

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Cork-based authors James Harpur and Billy O'Callaghan read from their novels and transport us back in time and place. James Harpur's novel The Pathless Country opens in London in the 1900s and brings us to Dublin the 1916 Easter Rising whilst Billy O'Callaghan's The Paper Man moves between Cork in the 1980s and 1930's Vienna.

James and Billy will be in conversation with Sue Leonard

Admission: Free

James Harpur‘s novel The Pathless Country opens in London in the 1900s. For Patrick Bowley, fresh from rural Galway, a place of mind-expanding encounters with mystics, suffragettes, theosophists and free-thinkers. Drawn into the world of such luminaries as Jiddu Krishnamurti, Annie Besant and W B Yeats, it seems that Patrick is on a quest for meaning that will bear fruit. But a bruising failure in romance leaves him disillusioned with London and its class divisions and, in spiritual crisis, he flees to the familiarity of rural Ireland. But Patrick finds no peace and as Europe slides towards war and Ireland towards rebellion, his longing to shut out the world is challenged by a vocation to preach peace in Ireland that will not be quieted. And so he begins an epic pilgrimage to Dublin, arriving days before the 1916 Easter Rising. It is here that Patrick’s journey reaches a gripping climax – one that finally reveals the true nature of the ‘pathless country’. James’ debut novel deftly weaves a story of spiritual awakening with fin de siècle alternative thought, love and political history, exploring how conscience and spiritual quest survive in an atmosphere of war, sectarianism and class hierarchy.


In Billy O’Callaghan‘s The Paper Man, Jack Shine is sorting through his mother’s belongings in Cork in the 1980s when he discovers a shoe box full of love letters and newspaper clippings. Jack’s mother, Rebekah, was a young woman when the Second World War broke out, and she came to Cork alone as a Jewish refugee from Vienna. She died when Jack was young, and he never learned of his father’s identity. So, who wrote these love letters to Rebekah and why did she keep newspaper clippings about a famous Austrian footballer player? Who was ‘The Paper Man’? As Jack begins to uncover the story of his mother’s life, he is transported to 1930s Vienna, a bustling, cosmopolitan city on the brink of war. At the heart of the action is Matthias Sindelar, one of the most famous footballers in the world, known to all as ‘The Paper Man’ because of his effortless weave across the pitch. When Sindelar unexpectedly meets Rebekah, a young woman from a small town, both of their lives are changed forever. But as war looms, they must accept that their survival will tear them apart. Based on real people and true events, The Paper Man is the story of twentieth-century Europe, the Holocaust, the cost of fame, and love against the odds. It is a story that will take Jack far from Cork and all the way back to Vienna, and towards The Paper Man.




James Harpur

James Harpur is an experienced workshop facilitator and known for his gentle guidance and insights. Currently Writer Fellow at the Oscar Wilde Centre, Trinity College Dublin, James has published eight...

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Billy O'Callaghan

Billy O'Callaghan is the author of the critically acclaimed novel My Coney Island Baby, which has been translated into nine languages and was shortlisted for the Encore Award 2020. Stories...

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Sue Leonard

A Journalist and Ghostwriter, Sue Leonard is the co-author of twelve books including two number one best-sellers. If Memory Serves Me Wrong, co-written with the former actor and Riverdance manager, Ronan...

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