John Maher


Life
1954- [John Patrick Maher: pseud. “Jack Barry”; var. b.1960- ] ed. at UCD, with a BA in Near-Eastern Languages (Modern Arabic/Biblical Hebrew), proceeding to an MPhil on “‘The Development of the Palestinian and Israeli Novel”; he was a Irish Press Hennessy Short Story Award finalist in 1981; issued short stories as The Coast of Malabar (Dublin: O’Brien Press 1988), and won the Francis McManus Award; wrote The Fetch (Dublin Th. Fest. 1990), a one-act play; also radio plays, The Doppler Effect (RTE 1990) and The Gala Gala Man (RTE 1990); winner of P. J .O’Connor Radio Play Award, 1990; also The Kithogue (RTE 1991);
 
Maher has acted as Moderator at Palestinian-Israeli Literary Forum (Cúirt Fest., Galway 2000); lectured on Palestinians and Arabs in Israeli fiction at Féile Na Bealtaine (Dingle, May 2002) and Bronfman Lecture Series (TCD, October 2002); winner of Lar Cassidy Award for Prose; awarded Arts Council of Ireland Grant, 2002; issued The Luck Penny (2006) , a novel is set in mid-nineteenth-century Ireland and England, the story of Dr. John Drew, an Anglican minister at Aghadoe (loosely relating to the life of Dr. Edward Hincks who deciphered Akkadian cuneiform); issued Slouching Toward Jerusalem: Ractive Nationalism in the Irish, Israeli, and Palestinian Novel (2011), and attempt to trace the similarities between these areas of conflict in literature by and about the different groups involved;
 
also, as Jack Barry, Miss Katie Regrets (2006), dealing with prostitution, paramilitaries and political corruption, set in Dublin, Manchester and Amsterdam. DIL

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Works
Fiction,, The Coast of Malabar (Dublin: O’Brien Press 1988), 176pp. [stories]; The Luck Penny (Brandon Press 2006), 294pp. As Jack Barry, Miss Katie Regrets (Dingle: Brandon 2006), 256pp.

Drama, The Fetch (Dublin Th. Fest. 1990), a one-act play; The Doppler Effect (RTE 1990). For radio, The Gala Gala Man (RTE 1990) and The Kithogue (RTE 1991).

Miscellaneous, ed Slouching Toward Jerusalem: Reactive Nationalism in the Irish, Israeli, and Palestinian Novel (2011), 256pp.

Lectures incl. ‘The Palestinian in Israeli Literature’ (Féile Na Bealtaine, Dingle, May 2002), and ‘The Arab in the Israeli Novel’ (Bronfman Lecture Series, TCD, October 2002).

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Commentary
Liam Harte, review of The Luck Penny, in The Irish Times (10 Feb. 2007): ‘[...] Though predominantly a meditation on unresolved grief, the novel also explores themes of colonisation, religious prejudice and language shift through the prism of private trauma. Set in the aftermath of Queen Victoria’s 1849 visit to Ireland, it dramatises the anguished predicament of Dr John Drew, a “woebegone” Church of Ireland minister living in Aghadoe, “a small damp town in the Queen’s County”. Drew’s daily thoughts are consumed by a desire to decode the inscriptions on ancient clay tablets, an obsession that inures him to the pain of having recently lost his young son. / Gradually, however, Drew’s attempts to translate the scriptures of the dead transform his understanding of death itself, and relativise his sense of faith and history. He comes to regard the past as a palimpsest that encases a polyphony of voices - “One tongue lurking beneath another” - and recognises that his own religion may be little more than “the vanity of a cleric deducing the words of a Galilean divine who died almost two thousand years earlier in Palestine”. Paradoxically, such scepticism brings him spiritually closer to the Catholics he once demonised, notably the disaffected former schoolmaster Fox Keegan and Nan Tours, a seamstress with a gimlet eye for gossip. All three emerge as restless, questing individuals who are uneasy with the doctrinaire allegiances of planter and Gael. [...]’

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Notes
Brandon Press (Cat. 2006): The Luck Penny is a powerful novel which will stay in the mind long after it has been read, combining a story of colonisers and natives, of language and power, with a poignant exploration of loss and grief. Also: Miss Katie Regrets features Detective Thomas Barrett in pursuit of a male prostitution service, the title character being is a Dublin transvestite who will kiss and tell about her politico clients. (Brandon Cat. gives birth-date as 1954.) See also Books Ireland (Feb. 2007), “First Flush”: ‘literary novel about colonisers and natives, language and power.’

Namesake? Author of Long Live King Dick (Banbridge: Adare Press 1998), 51pp. [copy in TCD Library].

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