Mark O’Connell: A Thread of Violence

Time and date

Friday 19 July 2024

2:30 pm


Bantry House

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What does it mean to write about a killer? A Thread of Violence: A Story of Truth, Invention, and Murder by Mark O'Connell is a tale of a notorious double-murder that gripped the nation, a political scandal that almost brought down a government, and a writer who found himself entangled in this strange, true story. In this thorny examination of the nature of true crime, Mark confronts his own fascination, his haunting of Malcolm Macarthur, and in turn our own attraction to true crime stories.

Admission: €18

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In 1982 Malcolm Macarthur, the wealthy heir to a small estate, found himself suddenly without money. The solution, he decided, was to rob a bank. To do this, he would need a gun and a car. In the process of procuring them, he killed two people, and the circumstances of his eventual arrest in the apartment of Ireland’s Attorney General nearly brought down the government. The case re- mains one of the most shocking in Ireland’s history.


Mark O’Connell has long been haunted by the story of this brutal double mur- der. But in recent years this haunting has become mutual. When Mark sets out to unravel the mysteries still surrounding these horrific and inexplicable crimes, he tracks down Macarthur himself, now an elderly man living out his days in Dublin and reluctant to talk. As the two men circle one another, Mark is pushed into a confrontation with his own narrative: what does it mean to write about a murderer?


‘Like all great books, A Thread of Violence is the document of a great writer’s obsession. Mark O’Connell draws the reader into a deeply engross- ing story, and at the same time into a complex investigation of human brutality and of narrative writing itself. This is a superb and unforgettable book.’ Sally Rooney



Mark O'Connell

Mark O'Connell is an award-winning Irish writer. His first book, To Be a Machine, won the 2018 Wellcome Book Prize and was shortlisted for the Baillie Gifford Prize. In 2019,...

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