John Morrow

ReferencesNotes

Life
1930-2014; b. Belfast; school at 14; apprentice in the linen trade; worked in shipyards as a navvy and afterwards an insurance agent; contrib. stories to Honest Ulsterman and Irish Press in the 1960s; joined Arts Council of Northern Ireland as Community Arts Officer, 1978; appt. Director of Combined Arts, 1991; retired 1995; novels, Confessions of Prionsias O’Toole (1977); The Essex Factor (1982); stories; Northern Myths (1979) and Sects and Other Stories (1987) are collections; The Anals of Ballyturdeen (1996) [sic]; Pruck: A Life in Bits and Pieces (1999); d. 6 Nov.. 2014, being predeceased by his wife Isabel in October; survived by two sons, Brian and Johnny. DIL FDA DIW OCI.

 

Works
Confessions of Prionsias O’Toole (Belfast: Blackstaff 1977); The Essex Factor (Belfast: Blackstaff 1982); stories, Northern Myths (Belfast: Blackstaff 1979); Sects and Other Stories (Belfast: Blackstaff 1987) [collected short stories]; The Anals of Ballyturdeen (Belfast: Lagan Press 1996). 165pp.; Pruck: A Life in Bits and Pieces (Belfast: Lagan Press 1999), 181pp. [autobiography]

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Commentary
Maurice Harmon
, ‘First Impressions: 1968-78’, in The Irish Short Story, ed. Terence Brown & Patrick Rafroidi (Gerrards Cross: Colin Smythe 1979), writes: ‘When the violence in Northern Ireland appears in the contemporary story, it does so as a context and background, and as something to get away from. John Morrow alone seems able to present it with a healthy black humour.’ (p.65.)

Tom Paulin, Ireland and the English Crisis (1984), p.50: ‘In his collection of contemporary folktales he draws on a vigorous and seldom noticed oral tradition of northern Irish storytelling. Morrow is the author of a brilliant comic novel, The Confessions of Prionsias O’Toole which treats the Ulster situation in a violently comic manner, and the folk memory which informs his art is that of the urban working class - a wild, often cruel imagination which eagerly absorbs the contemporary and transforms it into legend. [50] ... tapping the primeval powers [52] ... a lacerating rhetoric which possesses an operatic and inebriated violence but doesn’t actually scathe anyone [53].

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References
Seamus Deane
, gen. ed., The Field Day Anthology of Irish Writing (Derry: Field Day 1991), Vol. 3 selects from Sects and Other Stories (London: Black Swan [Corgi] 1987), ‘Lonely Heart’; REFS & REMS, 939, 942; BIOG, 1134.

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Notes
Namesakes: John Morrow (1931-2009), Belfast peace-activist; John Morrow (1971- ), Belfast footballer; John Morrow (), economist at Essex University.

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