Evelyn Conlon


Life
1952- ; b. Rockcorry, Co. Monaghan; ed. Foyle College, Derry; published first short story at 18 in David Marcus’s “New Irish Writing” in The Irish Press; entered UCD and left after a year, finding herself lost in Dublin; married and moved to Australia, working in jobs incl. geographic encyclopaedia; travelled in Asia and Russia; recommenced B. A. at St. Patrick’s College, Maynooth (NUI), 1976; opened creche in Maynooth to cater for her own child and others; separated from husband after birth of second child, 1977; grad. H.Dip; taught English for two years until job terminated;
 
founder member of Rape Crisis Centre; lives in Dublin, with residences in Kilkenny, Cavan, and Limerick; author of My Head is Opening (1987); received Arts Council Bursary, 1988; Stars in the Daytime (1989); Dublin City Library Writer in Residence, 1990; Taking Scarlet as a Real Colour (1993); A Glassful of Letters (1998), semi-epistolary novel of changing mores in Ireland dealing with friendship, courage, and isolation; Telling: New and Selected Stories (2000); issues Skin of Dreams (2003), a novel set in Ireland and Tennessee, dealing with capital punishment. ATT DIL

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Works
Short fiction
  • My Head is Opening (Dublin: Attic 1987), 123pp.;
  • Taking Scarlet as a Real Colour (Belfast: Blackstaff 1993), 176pp.;
  • Telling: New and Selected Stories (Belfast: Blackstaff 2000), 280pp.
Novels
  • Stars in the Daytime (Dublin: Attic; London: Women’s Press 1990), 172pp.;
  • A Glassful of Letters (Belfast: Blackstaff 1998), 208pp.;
  • Skin of Dreams (Dingle: Brandon Press 2003), 288pp.
Anthologised
  • Ireland’s Women,. ed. Katie Donovan, A. N. Jeffares & Brendan Kennelly (Dublin: Gill & Macmillan 1994);
  • Ciara Considine, ed., Moments [Tsunami relief collection] (Clé 2005), &c.
See also contrib. to Caitriona Moloney & Helen Thompson, eds., Irish Women Writers Speak Out: Voices from the Field, with a foreword by Ann Owen Weekes (Syracuse UP 2003), q.pp.
Miscellaneous
  • Where Did I Come From?: A Sex-Education Book For Young Children (Dublin: Arlen House 1982), and Do. [rev. edn.], ill. by Madeleine O’Neill (Dublin: Ard-Bui 1983), 29pp.;
  • Introduction to Mary Lavin, Tales from Bective Bridge (Dublin: Town House 1996);
  • ed., with Hans-Christian Oeser, Cutting The Night In Two: Short Stories By Irish Women Writers (Dublin: New Island 2001), 300pp.;
  • ed., Later On: the Monaghan Bombing Memorial Anthology (Dingle: Brandon Press 2004), 128pp.

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Criticism
Interview with Shirley Kelly, in Books Ireland (March 1997), pp.41-42; Rosemary Dawson, review of A Glassful of Letters, in Books Ireland (Dec. 1998), pp.342-43; Interview, ‘The trauma of a death is dragged out over years’, in Books Ireland (May 2003) [infra].

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Commentary
Shirley Kelly
, ‘The trauma of a death is dragged out over years’ [interviw], in Books Ireland (May 2003), examines the death penalty in Skin of Dreams, starting with the case in the 1940s in which Harry Gleeson was executed for the murder of a single mother in Clonmel; Conlon read Marcus Bourke’s treatment of the case in Murder at Marhill (1993) as a primer to her novel; recalls that she heard the death sentence read three times in a special criminal court in Dublin in the 1980s: ‘It took a long time and I’ll never forget the extraordinary silence in the court throughout that time.’ Shows concern about Death Row, and especialy the case of partents with untreated psychotic son of elderly who finally commits a murders. Calls the book ‘traumatic and emotionally exhaust[ing] I write.’ (p.113.)

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Kate Bateman, review of Evelyn Conlon, Skin of Dreams (Brandon), in The Irish Times (23 May 2003), Weekend, p.10: ‘[...] Skin of Dreams opens with Maud, seat-belted on an Aer Lingus plane in a prior-to-landing pattern, musing (in the paranoiac fashion that afflicts passengers) will she get by customs and might the Special Branch nab her? The blending of fact and fiction starts with the name Maud - yes, of course, of Maud Gonne fame. The gentle parodic motif continues as she and her twin brother, Malachy, move to the city and, conventionally, set about getting a flat, academic training and jobs. Maud becomes a civil servant, her brother a teacher. She has a few desultory affairs, while Malachy acquires a sister-in-law for Maud to be spiky about. Then enter the well-known trope of a sealed package found among the effects of dead parents. The contents and the ensuing mission are kept from Malachy until the end of the story, by which time Maud also has found love with the house-partner.’ Bateman concludes: ‘This is not a warm novel; the characters further the plot and adhere to the, author’s agenda. But though the tone is as jagged as Maud’s jet-lag, descriptions of camp life with the Death Row community - The journeyers remain with the reader.’ (See full text, infra.)

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Notes
Écrire l’Europe/Writing Europe (2003), the Franco-Irish Literary festival, Dublin Castle (chaired by Michael Cronin); invited Irish authors incl. Evelyn Conlon, Moya Cannon, Colm Tóibín, Keith Ridgeway, Peter Fallon.

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