Shane Connaughton

Life
1946- ; b. Co. Cavan; RTÉ sound actor; wrote script-play for My Left Foot (dir. Jim Sheridan, 1987); issued A Border Station (1989), stories and The Run of the Country (1991), a novel filmed in 1995-96, dir. Peter Yates; scripted The Playboys (?1990), in which he appears with Albert Finney and others; also A Border Diary (1994), giving an account of the shooting of the film in Redhills; lives in London; nominated for Oscar with his script for Christy Brown’s My Left Foot (1989); wrote script for film-vesion of Colm Toibin’s The Blackwater Lightship premiered in 2004. OCIL

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Works
Lily (London: Irish Company 1987), viii, 56pp. [play]; A Border Station: Stories (London: Hamilton 1989), [8],165pp., and Do [new edn.] (London: Penguin 1994), 176pp.; The Run of the Country (London: Hamish Hamilton 1991), [4],246,[1]pp.; A Border Diary (London: Faber & Faber 1995), viii, 231pp. Also, with Richard Deacon [comp.], Escape!, scripts by Shane Connaughton [et al.] (London: BBC 1980), 192pp. [TV ser. prod. by Frank Cox]; also The Playboys (?1990), script and appearance.

Film: with Jim Sheridan, My Left Foot (London: Faber 1989), 68pp., ill. [film based on novel of Christy Brown]; The Run of the Country, film version, dir. Peter Yates, 1996, with Matt Kessler as male lead, and Victoria Smurfit as female; also Albert Finney; filmed on location in places of the author’s childhood.

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Commentary
In Brief’, Times Literary Supplement (12 Jan. 1995), gives notice of A Border Diary (Faber 1995), set in border counties to which the author returns for the filming of The Run of the Country, it recounts the experience of the adult whose childhood experience is recreated before his eyes,; ebullient, good-humoured, nostalgic and astute commentary; author occasionally taxed with having written ‘filthy books’; bon mots, viz, ‘in summer, the Erne is in Fermanagh, in winter Fermanagh is in the Erne.’ (TLS, p.28.)

Alexander Walker, ‘Peek-a-Boo, Ballyhoo, and Blarney’, in Causeway 1 (Autumn 1993) [on Ireland as a theme of Hollywood film-makers]: ‘Yet in the unlikely setting of Gillies Mackinnon’s The Playboys (1992), which has a script by the novelist Shane Connaughton, one finds an astute unsentimentalised study of narrowminded and ominously enclosed rural community 40 years ago, whose bigotry is visited on Albert Finney’s local police sargeant. Much of it is comedy ... but the centre of the film is tragedy, the terrible despair of the policeman, exiled in this part of Cavan for hitting the bottle to heard elsewhere, craving a home, not an outpost, and finding that his uniform set him apart from the inherent lawlessness of the people he lives among ... perhaps the most identifiably Irish of [a] remarkable proliferation of film-making’ (pp.32-35.)

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References
Dermot Bolger, ed . Picador Book of Contemporary Irish Writing (1993, 1994), includes work and cites him as co-author screen-play My Left Foot; collections A Border Station; The Run of the Country. [Bolger does not provide publication details.]

Patricia Craig, The Rattle of the North: An Anthology of Ulster Prose (Blackstaff 1992), excerpts from “Beatrice”, a story concerning a nameless boy and his insights into the adults around him [see Giovanna Tallone, review, ABEI, No. 10, Jan. 1996, p.11].

Hibernia Books (Cat. 19) lists 1994, Border Station, stories (London: Hamilton 1989), 164pp. [0241125219]; Penguin rep. 1994, 176pp. n.e. pbk [0 14 0178 56 2]; Run of the Country (Hamilton 1991) 224pp. [0 241 12837 4] ALSO Lily, play (Irish Company 1987).

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Notes
The Run of the Country (London: Hamish Hamilton 1991), 247pp.; [largely concerned with relationship between a Garda sergeant in the border country and his disaffected son in the 1950s ... more than an account of [Republican] background ... manages to link character to environment; leaving home after his mother’s death, roaming the border country with his friend Prunty, falling in love with all-too-foreseeable consequences, Connaughton’s teenage hero ends up tarred and feathered and imprisoned by his own father. Comic scenes incl. impersonation of a priest and a dancehall fight broken up by the playing of the National Anthem. Mixes comic and tragic well. The hero ends contemplating emigration to America, ‘Over the village the new moon hung pregnant with the old’ (Sunday Times, Books Review.)

The Playboys (?1990): Shane Connaughton appears as the customs officer in The Playboys (?1990), his own original screenplay, directed Gillies Mackinnon, with Robin Wright (Tara), Albert Finney (Sargeant Hegarty), Aidan Clarke (Tom Casey) and Milo O’Shea (the theatrical impresario), et al.

Newsweek: Shane Connaughton is treated among authors cited in ‘The Second Coming’, an article on contemporary Irish writers by Malcolm Jones, Fr., in ‘Books’, Newsweek (1 July 1996), pp.63-64.

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