Frances Molloy

LifeWorksCriticismCommentaryQuotationsReferencesNotes

Life
1947-1991 [pseud. of Anne McGill]; b. Dungiven, Co. Derry; left school at fifteen to work in factory, briefly a nun; lived in Lancaster for eighteen years; published stories in English magazines;
 
issued No Mate for the Magpie (1985), an autobiographical novel centred on Ann Elizabeth McClone and written in Derry dialect; narrated by Anne herself and dealing with her experiences growing up during the early years of the Northern Troubles;
 
Molloy visited Ireland in 1988; m. Gerard Brady, with whom she had two children; she later lived with Dermot Healy; contributed stories in magazines in England, some anthologised; she died of a stroke on Holy Thursday 1991; also wrote a play with Ruth Hooley and Nell McCafferty. ATT DIL2

 

[ top ]

Works
Fiction
, No Mate for the Magpie (London: Virago 1985), Do. (NY: Persea Books 1985) [novel]. Anthologised, ‘The Last Thing’ and ‘An Irish Fairy Tale’, in Ruth Hooley, ed., The Female Line; Northern Irish Women Writers (Belfast: Northern Ireland Women’s Rights Movt. 1985), pp.25-29; 148-49; ‘Women are the Scourge of the Earth’, in Ailbhe Smyth, ed., Wildish Things (Dublin: Attic 1989); Women are the Scourge of the Earth (Belfast: White Row 1998), 105pp.

[ top ]

Criticism
Victory Luftig, ed., ‘Frances Molloy: In Memoriam’, in Irish Literary Supplement (Autumn 1993), p.39; Aveen McManus, “Narratives of Childhood - A Comparative Study” (MA Diss., Univ. of Ulster 2005) [with Mary Costello, Jennifer Johnston, David Park, Glenn Patterson, Seamus Deane, Edna O’Brien, Patrick MacCabe].

[ top ]

Commentary
Robert Goldsmith, ‘The Trouble with Literature’ (MA Dipl., UUC 1996): No Mate for the Magpie (1985) is attack on corrupt and bizarre institutions of N. Ireland through eyes of protagonist Ann McClone, a working-class Catholic living outside Belfast; narrates conflict in microcosm with the neighbours, the nuns, the council and the RUC; her father interned on ‘Catch 22’ legal technicality; attack by matriarchs on breadman who allegedly cursed the Pope; Ann naively accepts job in Protestant majority factory, and disguises identity; escapes across the border in the wake of the civil rights marches in Derry; confronts in Dublin a fossiled iconography and ascendancy of opportunism and repression; eventual flight from Ireland parodies Stephen Dedalus.

[ top ]

Quotations
No Mate for the Magpie (1985), ‘Wan of them said, are you a catholic or a protestant? A said nothin’. Another of them took a cigarette lighter outa hir pocket an’ lit it and hel’ the flame te me face an’ said, we only allow catholics te sit at this table. A got up an’ walked away an’ set at another table. They all follied after me an’ kept on askin’ was a catholic or protestant? In the en’ a said a was a christian. Then the wan way the cigarette lighter said, we know you’re a prod. A said, if ye know so much why de ye waste yer breath askin’ question? She lit the lighter again an’ set fire te the side of me hair.’ (p.57; quoted in Aveen McManus, “Narratives of Childhood - A Comparative Study”, MA Diss., Univ. of Ulster 2005, pp.18-19.)

[ top ]

References
Loreto Todd, notes in The Language of Irish Literature (1989, p.151-2) that No Mate for the Magpie (1985), uses working-class Derry dialect.

[ top ]