Mary Rose Callaghan


Life
1944- ; b. Dublin, to a medical family; brought up partly in Bray; childhood fraught with difficulties after her her father suffered a brain tumour (1956; d.1964); ed. boarding-school, with family support, then UCD - at first to study medicine, soon changing to English, History and Philosophy; grad. HDip, 1968; taught at Killester and afterwards at a girls’ secondary modern in Maidenhead, and then a covent school at Oxford; returned after three years to recuperate from pneumonia; worked on arts magazines, reviewing drama;
 
met and married Robert Hogan [q.v.], professor of English at Univ. of Delaware, then visiting Dublin; lived in Delaware, with summers in Bray, and acted as assoc. ed. to the Dictionary of Irish Literature (1977; rep. 1985; rev. & enl. 1996); issued a novel, Mothers (1982), followed by others, Confessions of a Prodigal Daughter (1985), and The Awkward Girl (1990); also a biography of Kitty O’Shea [Mrs Parnell] (1989);
 
teenage books incl. Has Anyone Seen Heather? (1990), Emigrant Dreams (1996) and The Last Summer (1997), bringing Clare from respectable middle-class society to tower-block world of drug-pushers where she becomes ‘Shay’s mot’; suffered the death of her husband, 1999; issued The Visitor's Book (2001), a novel; travelled to Germany on writer's exchange, 2005;
 
formed writing group with four other women writers; issued Billy, Come Home (2007), a who-dunnit revolving around the brutal murder of a schizophrenic Traveller girl and Billie, an accused innocent; issued A Bit of a Scandal (2009), a modern retelling of Héloïse and Abelard in 1960s Dublin, in which the priest is an abuser of a vulnerable girl; lives in Bray.

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Works
Biography, Kitty O’Shea: The Story of Katherine Parnell, with a preface by Gemma Connor (London: Pandora 1989; rep. 1994, xiv, 187pp., ill. [8pp pls.].

Fiction, Mothers (Dublin: Arlen House; London: Marion Boyars 1982), 240pp.; Confessions of a Prodigal Daughter (London: Boyars 1985), 223pp.; The Awkward Girl: A Novel (Dublin: Attic Press 1990), 219pp.; Has Anyone Seen Heather? [Bright Sparks Ser.] (Dublin: Attic 1993), 190pp.; Emigrant Dreams (Dublin: Poolbeg 1996), 297pp.; The Last Summer (Dublin: Poolbeg 1997), 227pp.; Billy, Come Home (Dingle: Brandon Books 2007), 192pp.; A Bit of a Scandal (Dingle: Brandon Press 2009), 240pp.

Miscellaneous, ed., Jumping the Bus Queue: The Older Women's Network Poetry Collection (Dublin: Older Women’s Network 2000), 120pp.

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Criticism
[Shirley Kelly], ‘She Doesn’t Do It Straightforward’ [interview-article], in Books Ireland (March 2009), pp.37-38 [as infra].

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References
Anthologies: Ann Owens Weekes, ed., Attic Guide to Published Works of Irish Women Literary Writers (Dublin: Attic Press 1993); Katie Donovan, A. N. Jeffares, and Brendan Kennelly, eds., Ireland’s Women (Dublin: Gill & Macmillan 1994).

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Commentary
[Shirley Kelly], ‘She Doesn’t Do It Straightforward’ [interview-article], in Books Ireland (March 2009), pp.37-38: ‘[...] In Mary Rose Callaghan's novel, set in 1960s Dublin, the author shows that, in relation to clerical celibacy, nothing has really changed in nine hundred years. If anything, attitudes have hardened in more recent times. While the Church is prepared to turn a blind eye to clerical child abuse, it continues to come down hard on consensual relationship;s between priests and women [...] The beloved cleric of Callaghan's novel, a Canadian monk, is also called Peter [as in Abelard], but there the similarity ends; whereas Abelard appears to have truly loved Héloïse, this charater appears to be driven by more selfish motives, primarily lust. He brings his lover, the much younger Louise, to meet his friends but introduces her as an alcoholic or depressive, someone he is counseling, in a desperate attempt to allay suspicions about their relationship. From the outset, he tells Louise he cannot marry her but every time she ends the relationship he comes looking for her. [...t]he sad truth at the core of the novel - of a vulnerable young woman's love for a man lost to a “higher calling” - bobs persistently to the surface, bouyed up by the well-evoked seediness and poverty of mid-twentieth-century Dublin.’ Kelly recounts family Callaghan childhood history involving the brain tumour that struck down her father when she was twelve, resulting in hardships including eviction for herself and five siblings, her mother's flight to England to work as a nurse, the support of a relative for boarding-school, and medicince at UCD. (Further biographical details as in Life, supra.)

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Notes
Kitty O'Shea (1989) is published in a series that includes lives of Charlotte Despard and Countess Markievicz by Margaret Mulvihill and Anne Haverty respectively.

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