Michael Farrell

Life
1899-1962; b. Carlow, son of prominent business family; ed. UCD; joined IRA, and imprisoned in Mountjoy; became Marine Superintendant in the Belgian Congo, returning in 1932; resumed medical studies at TCD, but abandoned them for journalism, contrib. The Bell; m. Frances Cahill, and ran with her a hand-weaving in Dublin mountains called The Crock of Gold; his novel, long in the writing, Thy Tears Might Cease (1963), reduced by 100,000 words by Monk Gibbon, who wrote an introduction to it. DIB DIL IN FDA OCIL

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Works
Thy Tears Might Cease
, introduced by Monk Gibbon (London: Hutchinson 1963; 4th imp. April 1964), 592pp. [Introduction, pp.9-25], and Do. (NY: Knopf 1964), xxvi, 578pp.

Contribs. incl. ‘A Famous Country Theatre’, in The Bell, 1 2 (Nov. 1940), pp.76-84 [see extract].

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Criticism
Peter Costello, The Heart Grown Brutal: the Irish revolution in literature from Parnell to the death of Yeats, 1891-1939 (Dublin: Gill & Macmillan 1977), pp.93-96 [infra], also 119-23; James Cahalan, The Irish Novel (Dublin: Gill & Macmillan 1988), p.295; see also Seamus Deane, gen. ed., Field Day Anthology of Irish Writing (Derry: Field Day Co. 1991), Vol. 3, 515n, 640, 641.

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Commentary
Peter Costello, The Heart Grown Brutal (Gill & Macmillan 1997), on Thy Tears Might Cease (pub. 1963): [...] one of the highpoints of Irish realistic fiction tinged with romanticism; peculiar literary product of the revolution; also of the disillusioned thirties ... informed by bitterness for post-revolutionary Ireland; novel opens in Reilly family household at Glenkilly, Christmas 1910; Martin Matthew Reilly awaits permission to stay up to hear carol-singing; opening chapters describe his childhood; masterfully evocative of vanished world of country balls and sodality meetings; Catholic bourgeois home at Glenkilly, houses of their landed relatives, and easy cultivation of the Ascendancy at Keelard; Matthew later realises that he is a love child, an orphan passed from relative to relative catching glimpses of John Redmond’s Ireland; Tim Corbin, Bannow nationalist town-councillor (‘Jerusalem’s primest cut of a dodiddler’), inquires into the death of Martin’s father, wondering if ‘God’s first-prize Catholics, had a skeleton in the cupboard’; later arrives at meeting about a new dance hall; parish priest’s objections to drinking or sitting out, and no dancing on stage; gentry have difficulty understanding last point based on immorality of petticoats on view; argument ends with bitter words when one of the Protestants calls Corbin, a passionate nationalist ‘an ignorant enemy of Ireland’; Martin sent to school reminiscence of James Joyce [... &c.].’ Costello remarks, ‘Farrell had anti-clerical feeling born of a good Catholic education, despised especially this sort of mean-mouthed puritanism. ... Farrell is honest enough to draw for us the complexity [95] of feelings in Ireland then, where all that was good and dignified was Protestant, and all that was grubby and conniving seemed to be nationalist. In the end Martin retains his own sort of nationalism, but tempers it with his love of the life at Keelard. From that narrow home, that straitened town, from the damp dark corridors of schools haunted by unnameable sins, his imagination escapes into the wide spring fields of ascendancy Ireland.’ (pp.94-96.)

Brendan Kennelly, review of Tears reviewed, in Hermathena, XCIX (Autumn 1964): ‘This is the first Irish novel of epic stature since Ulysses ... There has been an uncomfortable feeling that everything that Ireland had to say was superbly said by Joyce. Farrell’s work is a vast assurance that such, happily, is not the case, and Thy Tears Might Cease is a new and important contribution to our literature’; main char. is Martin Reilly; Monk Gibbon removed one hundred thousand words from his friends manuscript.

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Notes
Ella O’Dwyer, The Rising of the Moon: The Language of Power (Pluto), a work of Republican cultural criticism, takes shots at historical revisionism as an addition to ‘empire-speak’ and a further distortion of Irish culture and consciousness [~]; contains a reading of Thy Tears Might Cease considered as ‘a register of the national psyche, an index of conflict’ in which ‘neither hero nor nation come into their own’. See review by Liam Harte in The Irish Times (22 March 2003). Harte remarks that this is ‘not only lacking in sensitivity to textual detail, it also runs counter to her earlier injunction “to resist enclosing a given work in an neframed isolated interpretation”.’ [O’Dwyer has also written “Reading Institutions: Alternative Responses in Women’s Fiction” (MA, Durham U. 1990) and “The Linguistics of Power and the Structuration of Meaning” (PhD, Univ. of Ulster 1998).]

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