Frank Delaney

Life
1942- ; journalist and broadcaster; twenty years in England; prolific author of history, biography, and fiction; The Sins of the Mothers (1992, novel; Telling the Pictures (1993); A Stranger in Their Midst (1995), story of the arrival of Dennis Sykes, a psychopathic seducer, in an quiet Tipperary valley and the subjection of the Kane girls to his powers; The Amethysts (1997); Desire and Pursuit (1998), a tale of a nouveau riche Dublin girl and an English journalist caught up in the Northern Troubles; latterly worked for FM101 (‘Classic FM’); issues Ireland: A Novel (2004), the story of ronan O’Mara, a boy who falls under the lifelong influence of an Irish storyteller [seanachie] in 1951.

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Works
Fiction, The Sins of the Mothers (London: HarperCollins 1992), 509pp., Telling the Pictures (London: HarperCollins 1993), 412pp.; A Stranger in Their Midst (London: HarperCollins 1995), 317[8]pp., The Amethysts (London: HarperCollins 1997), 416pp.; Desire and Pursuit (London: HarperCollins 1998), 416pp.; Ireland: A Novel (London: Time Warner 2004), 476pp., and Do. (NY: HarperCollins 2005), 560pp.

Omnibus, A Stranger in Their Midst; Telling the Pictures; The Sins of the Mothers (London: HarperCollins 1996), audiobook read by author. Non-fiction, James Joyce’s Odyssey: A Guide to the Dublin of Ulysses (London: Granada 1983); The Celts (London: Hodder & Stoughton 1986).

Miscellaneous, intro. The Landleaguers, by Anthony Trollope (Trollope Society [1995]); xix, 357pp.

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Commentary
Aisling Foster, ‘The Guff of Legend’, review of Ireland: A Novel, in The Irish Times, Weekend (14 Sept. 2004), p.10 [‘An ageing seanachie appears at the home of John O’Mara, solicitor, in 1951. [...] The nine-year-old Ronan feels a strange attraction to the man (completely non-sexual, of course) this is rural Ireland). Devasted when his mother expels the old windbag from her house, he spends the next 10 years searching for the magus and collecting his and other people’s chronicles, each one of which is delivered to us here at some length. [...] Which leaves the question: what is the intention of all this work?’

Tom Dunne, ‘A New Lady Morgan’, review of Ireland, in Times Literary Supplement (15 Oct. 2004), p.23: ‘Ronan’s obsession with the storyteller and his stories gives Frank Delaney’s Ireland what narrative drive it possesses, and its main weakness is Delaney‘ ’s inability to make him an interesting, or even a complex, character. A loner with no self-awareness and a single focus, he is as uncomprehending of the world around him at the end as at the beginning. “Puberty passed like a short season”, we are told, like everything else subordinate to his quest for the old man [...] The important challenge to modern “revisionism” raised by Brendan Bradshaw, Seamus Deane and others, and suggested in the title of Ronan’s doctoral research, “the Story of Ireland”, never comes properly into focus. / Insteads what we are presented with is just another version of “The Story of Ireland”, a celebration of Ireland’s unique and heroic past in the tradition of A. M. Sullivan’s best-selling book of that name in the late nineteenth century.’ Contrasts this ‘traditional piety’ with ‘Roddy Doyle’s subversive, irreverent account of 1916 in A Star Called Henry’ and worries that it may beguile ‘the very similiar amnesiaca romanticism of Provisional Sinn Fein’.

Roslyn Blyn-Ladrew, review of Ireland: A Novel (NY 2005), in Irish Edition [US], July 2005, p.21: Delaney’s novel consists of numerous stories with a story, framed by the account of a boy, Ronan O’Mara, who is nine years old when his tory starts in 1951; book journeys through time, the framework returning to period 1951-1966; Ronan makes his own voyage of discovery, seeking the whereabouts of a travelling Seanchaí [sic] and seeking his own indentity in a rapidly modernising Ireland; characters in the more-than 20 historical narratives incl. architect of Newgrange; “Angry Woman”, “Silken Elder”; Annan and Senan; Handel in Dublin; Seán O’Sullivan (folklorist); periods incl. St. Patrick’s arrival in Ireland; the Irish Famine and the 1916 Rising. The reviewer questions identificatrion of Conchobar Mac Neasa, king of Ulster in the time of Cuchulain, with Conchobar, son of a man [sic] named Nessa, overlooking the story of Neasa in the Ulster cycle where Conchobar is begotton on her by a local chieftain on his learning from the druid Cathbad that the time is good for the begetting of a king on a queen (hence a rare instance of a matrilineal name). In summary, remarks that, details aside, ‘the theme of the novel hinges on the role of oral storytelling in Ireland [...] a particularly appropriate medium in which to absorb Delaney’s masterful tale’.

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