Kevin Casey

Life
1940- ; b. Kells, Co. Meath; ed. Christian Brothers; worked in advertising; wrote The Living and the Lost (Abbey Th., March 1962), and on that account the Abbey’s youngest playwright; Not With a Bang (Th. Fest., Eblana Sept. 1965), set in Dublin, London, Washington and Moscow, with Des Keogh and others acting; issued The Sinner’s Bell (1968), a bleakly pessimistic novel in the tradition of the Brinsley Macnamara’s Valley of the Squinting Windows; also A Sense of Survival (1979, rep. 1985), and Dreams of Revenge (1977); issued A State of Mind (2009), a novel about a troubled period in the life of a writer; m. to Eavan Boland; reviews theatre for RTE Arts Show; issued A State of Mind (2009). DIL FDA

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Works
Novels
  • The Sinner’s Bell (London: Faber 1968), 228pp.;
  • A Sense of Survival (London: Faber 1974), 226pp.;
  • Dreams of Revenge (Faber 1977), 135pp.;
  • A State of Mind (Dublin: Lilliput Press 2009), 296pp.
Miscellaneous
  • ‘The Excitements and the Disappointments’, in The World of Sean O’Casey, ed. Sean McCann (London: Dent [1966]), p.211-34.
  • ed., Winter’s Tales from Ireland (Dublin: Gill & Macmillan 1970);
  • intro. to The Nowlans by John Banim [Tales by the O’Hara family: 2nd Series; selections] [Classic Irish novels] (Belfast: Appletree Press 1992), viii, 272pp.

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Commentary
Sue Leonard, ‘Narrator’s Block’, review of A State of Mind, in Books Ireland (Sept. 2009): ‘It’s the 1970s in county Wicklow [...] John Hughes is suffering from writer’s block [...] His wife, Laura earns enough as a radiographer to keep the family in comfort and the couple's daughter Rachel at boarding school, and that leaves John free to drift, while he looks fruitlessly for inspiration. / One can only assume that the author of A State of Mind knows a thing or two about that particular complaint. Kevin Casey, a writer and critic who is married to the poet Eavan Boland, published three novels back in the sixties and seventies, but this is the first offering to have come to light since. Certainly that lack of purpose; that meandering from pub to bar as John struggles to fill his days is convincing. It’s no wonder, really, that when he forms an attraction, bordering on obsession for the cool beauty Ingrid, it blossoms into a fraught, if fulfilling affair. / Perhaps, John thinks, a bit of passion might unlock that pen. So he writes a journal, detailing that first meeting in a pub, that snatched kiss in the kitchen during a dinner party, and those long afternoons of guilty bliss. John knows, of course, that he is betraying Laura. He worries about the effect of an affair on Rachel who one afternoon almost catches him in flagrante. But he's too busy dissecting his feelings, wondering how it can be possible to love two women at once, to end the affair. And besides, it's good copy. [...]’ Remarks that Casey ‘evokes a time when drinking at lunchtime was the norm’ and considers it ‘his sense of time and place that makes the novel such a good read’, calling ‘the whole a tantalising account that rings true.’

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References
Booksellers
Whelan Books (Cat. 32) lists Dreams of Revenge (Faber 1977), Cathach Bks. (Cat. 12) lists A Sense of Survival (1974) [?err.]; The Sinner’s Bell [1st edn.] (London 1969); Winter Tales from Ireland (Dublin 1970).

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Notes
The Living and the Lost (1962): Mairteen Deignan, a domineering, old-fashioned Mayo farmer has a hard enough time used to the fact that his daughter is a television star. Joyce Murdoch, a seductive Englishwoman, arrives to stay with the family while gathering folklore from the locale, adding interest to his life. (See Irish Playography, online; accessed 08.08.2009.)

The Sinner’s Bell is noticed in Cahalan, The Irish Novel (1988), p.273; see also full DIL entry (Hogan, 1979). None of these sources refer to university education.

A State of Mind (2009): The protagonist is a novelist living in Co. Wicklow in the 1970s at a time when the Northern Troubles are looming large. He allows himself to be drawn into friendship with a once-famous English writer and his German girlfriend, who have moved into a neighbouring house and gets caught up in marital betrayal, suicide, blackmail, and some traditional Anglo-lrish animosity. The hero shakes off his torpor at a heavy cost to his mental well-being and undergoes some trials before finding redemption in writing. (See Books Ireland, Summer 2009, p.155.)

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