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O'Flaherty, Liam

world republican novel irish

(Irish, 1897–1984)

O'Flaherty was born on the Aran Islands, fought in the First World War and then for the Republican cause. His first successful novel, The Informer (1925), powerfully conveys the Dublin slums and the dynamics of Republican circles; its protagonist is the powerful but limited Gypo, who betrays an IRA man for the £20 reward and is then pursued himself. O'Flaherty's fiction is passionate, melodramatic, and sometimes sensual; his stories in particular cast an ironic eye on the brutalities of Irish rural and working-class lives. The title story in The Mountain Tavern (1929) has wounded IRA men seeking assistance from a woman bombed out of her own home; ‘The Fairy Goose’ and ‘Red Barbara’ satirize peasant piety and superstition. His most important novel is Famine (1937), concerning family conflicts and emigration during the Great Hunger of the 1840s. By contrast, Two Years (1930) is an engaging bottom-dog view of his world travels.

Sean O'Faolain, Neil Jordan.


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