Mary Costello

Life
1955- ; b. West Belfast; grad. QUB [Modern Languages]; trained as actress and worked with Martin Lynch; set up children’s Albatross Co.; worked with TEAM; wrote Titanic Town (Mandarin 1992), the story of Annie McPhelimy growing up in Troubles Belfast (‘seductive yet doomed’); written in Melbourne, Australia, she has lived with her Mauritian husband since 1981.

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Works
Titanic Town,: Memoirs of a Belfast Girlhood (London: Methuen 1992), 340pp. [ISBN 0416 6690 5; Mandarin rep. 1993 07493 1260 2]; climax is the murder of a Catholic by a Protestant; Australian parts, incl. autobiographical char. Annie McPhelimy, edited out by publisher; to be filmed by Titanic Town Productions, funding from British Screen; .

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Criticism
Interview with Simon Costello, ‘Swimming from the Titanic’, Irish Studies Review 8 (Autumn 1994), pp.6-8; Aveen McManus, “Narratives of Childhood - A Comparative Study” (MA Diss., Univ. of Ulster 2005) [with Frances Molloy, Jennifer Johnston, David Park, Glenn Patterson, Seamus Deane, Edna O’Brien, Patrick MacCabe].

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Quotations
Titanic Town (1992), “Author’s Note”: ‘The disremembrance of things past accommodates the natural and necessary exaggeration attendant upon the recounting of any Irish story, and seems to me to be a creating way of dealing with the trails of a youth troubled by the Troubles. But the spirit of the book is true, the tone authentic.’ Further, ‘I don’t pretend that Titanic Town contains all the facts of my life and times, but Annie McPhelimy is certainly part of me. The people in the book are not intended to be portraits of people I used to know and watch. Certain traits and quirks and bletherings have indeed been borrowed from family, friends and enemies, but the sotry imposed its own form on character,s events and circumstances, and shaped out the truths and untruths, misusunderstandings, myths, and rumours whcih, in Belfast, ferment into history.’ (Author’s Note [q.pp.]; quoted in Aveen McManus, “Narratives of Childhood - A Comparative Study”, MA Diss., Univ. of Ulster 2005, pp.5, 11.)

Titanic Town (1992), ‘For the cause, for queen and countryfor peace, with justice or at any price. For there will be no surrender, fuck the pope and queen, both the same. Sons, sisters, fathers, daughters, husbands and brothers will not be grudged, thogh they go out to break their strength and die. We will not give an inch and shall not be moved, till the last drops of blood, orange and green, run down the street, through our four green fields, one of them in bondage, to mingle with the rivers of ceaseless rain, seep into the brown sucking bogs, and piss, peacefully at last, out into Belfast Lough, in the wake of the Titanic.’ (p.340; quoted in Aveen McManus, “Narratives of Childhood - A Comparative Study”, MA Diss., Univ. of Ulster 2005, p.27.)

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Notes
Titanic Town (1992): concerns autobiographical character Annie McPhelimy; the climax is the murder of a Catholic by a Protestant; Australian sections were edited out by publisher; to be filmed by Titanic Town Productions, funding from British Screen.

Film version: Mary Costello’s Titanic Town filmed under the same title, dir. Roger Mitchell (Persuasion), with Julie Walters (Educating Rita) as Bernie [mother of Annie] McPhelimy, ‘a Belfast bombmaker turned mediator’; Ciaran Hands and James Loughran in other roles; reviewed in Washington Post (1 Sept. 2000), C12.

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