Leo Cullen

Life
1948- ; b. Templetuohy, nr. Tullamore, Co. Tipperary; son of hoteliers; moved to country when his father remarried after death of his mother when he was eight; published poems in “New Irish Writing” (Irish Press), during 1980s; works as civil servant; studied fiction-writing with McGahern; issued highly-acclaimed Clocking Ninety on the Road to Cloughjordan and Other Stories (1994), serialised for RTÉ radio; also Let’s Twist Again (2001) resumes where the stories in Clocking left off — viz., young Lally Connaughton is now ten, his father having remarried when he was eight.

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Works
Clocking Ninety on the Road to Cloghjordan & Other Stories (Belfast: Blackstaff 1994; Blackstaff: Beeline 2002) [17 stories]; Let’s Twist Again (Belfast: Blackstaff Beeline 2001), 390pp.

Commentary
Sam Thompson, reviewing Let’s Twist Again (Blackstaff), in Times Literary Supplement, 25 Jan. 2002, quotes the opening sentence, spoken by narrator Lally Connaughton: ‘When I was eight and a half and a great judge of people out around the wide world of our street my father went away and did something. I did not know what it was.’ His father has re-married. (p.24.)

George O’Brien, review of Let’s Twist Again (Belfast: Blackstaff Press), ‘by no means deficient in a spirit of place, Let’s Twist Again is much more concerned with the rather more elusive spirit of home’; ‘1950s rural Irish childhood - day out at the big match, puppy love, obnoxious teachers’; ‘in the account of his coping, exploring, questioning and negotiating the new adult terrain, Leo Cullen has created the most memorable fictional child since at least Paddy Clarke [Roddy Doyle] (Irish Times, 27 Oct. 2001, Weekend, “Books”, with extract on p.13.)

Shirley Kelly, interview, in Books Ireland (Oct. 2001), p.247 [biog. as supra]

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