Kevin Myers

Life
1947- ; son of an Irish doctor and Irish parents; b. Leicester, raised in England; lost his father in teenage years; attended minor public school; accepted by UCD as part of foreign student quota on 2 “A” levels (GCE) after his mother wrote to Prof. James Hogan, a family friend; grad. in History; worked on Newsight and then at RTÉ; journalist in Belfast during the 1970s, returning to Dublin to take up the “Irishman’s Diary” column at The Irish Times, frequently devoted to remembrance of the forgotten Irish soldiers of World War I and victims of republican violence both in the War of Independence (1919-21) and the Northern Irish crisis; travelled to Split and Sarajevo for The Irish Times, June 1992; m. Rachel, 1995; issued a first novel, Banks of Green Willows (2001), dealing with the Bosnian tragedy; issued apology for remarks on mercenary motives of unmarried mothers made in the “Diary” (Irish Times, 10 Feb. 2005); moved to the Irish Independent ; issued Watching the Door (2006), a memoir of reporting on Belfast in the 1970s; also More Myers: An Irishman's Diary, 1997-2006 (2007); subject of allegations of incitement to hatred by Irish Immigrant Council, July 2008.

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Works
Journalism, From the Irish Times Column “An Irishman’s Diary” (Dublin: Four Courts Press 2000), 292pp.; Watching the Door: A [Belfast ] Memoir 1971-1978 (Dublin: Lilliput Press 2006), 256pp., and Do . [as] Watching the Door [ : Cheating Death in 1970s Belfast ] (Atlantic Books 2008), 288pp.; More Myers: An Irishman's Diary 1997-2006 (Dublin: Lilliput Press 2007), 271pp.

Miscellaneous, contrib. to Andrew Whittaker, ed., Bright, Brilliant Days: Douglas Gageby and The Irish Times (Dublin: A.& A. Farmar 2006).

Fiction, Banks of Green Willow (London: Scribner; Dublin: TownHouse 2002), 275pp.

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Criticism
Shirley Kelly, ‘Columnist Turns Novelist’, interview with Kevin Myers, in Books Ireland (Dec. 2001), p.321-22 [infra]; Ruth Scurr, review of Kevin Myers, Banks of Green Willow, in Times Literary Supplement, 7 Dec. 2001, p.21.); Rory Brennan, review of Watching the Door, in Books Ireland (May 2007), p.105 [infra].

See An Answer to Revisionists: Eamon Ó Cuív, TD and others launch Sean Moylan’s Memoir (Aubane Hist. Soc. 2005), 118pp., in which Ó Cuív assails ‘trained’ historian Kevin Myers in a short introduction; and see also Martin Mansergh’s Irish Times column in Dec. 2005, asking whether Kevin Myers is still necessary?

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Quotations
Dead Men Walking’: review of Martin McFarland, 50 Dead Men Walking (London: Blake 1997), 248pp., in Spectator ([during] May 1997], ‘A most striking feature of McGartland’s tale is the intellectual and moral triviality of those he was informing on, IRA leaders for whom the murder of insignificant members of the security forces was in reality no more than an index of their determination to get what they wanted. Tree-felling could have been just as efficacious. The creation of a united Ireland is totally unrelated to the activities of the IRA, which were based on primitive notions of organisation and personal gratification through violence, as if a terrorist killing-contest could achieve political victory, rather as goals win a football match.’

See remarks on Countess Markievicz [supra].

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Commentary
Shirley Kelly, ‘Columnist Turns Novelist’, interview with Kevin Myers, in Books Ireland (Dec. 2001), p.321-22: notes that Myers was attacked with John Waters by Nuala O’Faolain as women-haters, and calls his novel Banks of Green Willow ‘a direct riposte’ had it not been written earlier. Written from standpoint of Gina, a nineteen year-old American visiting the Bracken family in Mayo in 1972, who falls in love with part-Bosnian Stefan and becomes pregnant; marries Warren; returns to Ireland on death of her mother in a car accident; events in Bosnia impinge on her life and Stefan’s [biog. as supra].

Ruth Scurr, review of Kevin Myers, Banks of Green Willow (Scribner), calls it a disquieting novel and writes: ‘[…] while the dismaying figures of Milosevic and Arkan maraud in the shadows, it is indirectly, through the Egyptian myths of Osiris and Seth, that Myers addresses the war itself.’ (Times Literary Supplement, 7 Dec. 2001, p.21.)

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Elizabeth Butler Cullingford, ‘There’s Many a Good Heart Beats under a Khaki Tunic’ [Chap.], in Ireland’s Other: Gender and Ethnicity in Irish Literature and Popular Culture, Cork UP 2001), cites Kevin Nolan’s Irish Times contemporary review of Dolly Wests’ Kitchen : ‘“[T]he author wants to compare the loyalties and enmities in the dinner part with the loyalties and enmities of the parties engaged in, or neutral in the world war. Here he falls into a logical fallacy which is ultimately lethal to his drama. Sexual love or hate is not comparable to love or hate of country, so that to compare […] the resolution of sexual relationships with the end of the war is merely sentimental.” If this assertion were correct, we might have to conclude that much of the Irish drama we have looked at is “merely sentimental”. I would reject this conclusion, along with the implied denigration of sentiment as a political and theatrical force. When Benedict Anderson categorises nationalism with kinship and religion he indicates that love of one’s country is closer to passion than to intellectual allegiance. That familiar analogy between sexuality and national that McGuinness uses to structure his play does not depend on a “logical fallacy” and it is inherent in the Irish dramatic tradition.’ (p.72.)

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John A. Murphy (Emeritus Professor of Irish History, UCC), writes a letter to The Irish Times (16 Oct. 2004) in response to Myer’s ridiculing his suggestion that ‘the real “no petty people” of modern Ireland [Murphy’s itals.] were the small tenant farmers of Ireland who refused to be cowed by a tyranneous Protestant gentry, magistracy, yeomanry and church establishment.’ He concludes: ‘For Mr Myers to change “in modern Irish history” to “modern Ireland” in order to submit my sentence to ridicule is a distortion for which I am owed, but do not expect, an apology.’

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Books Ireland (“First Flush”), calls Watching the Door: A Memoir 1971-1978 ‘compulsive’ reading: ‘[…] Here […] is a book that may well earn the status of classic. It tells how as a young man he survived seven years as reporter (for RTÉ and for newspapers) of the Northern troubles but unlike other reporters getting deeply involved in the madness that was Belfast. Not only was he on drinking - and closer - terms with paramilitaries and paranoid petty assassins of all persuasions, but he apparently slept with any and every one of the opposite sex who happened to be available. On two occasions he was interrupted by an unexpected husband (one a loyalist cuckold, the other a nationalist) and escaped by a hairsbreadth. You keep asking yourself is this made up? Could it all be fabrication - particularly as Myers tends to emerge as hero - and yet somehow you know it isn’t. All the political and military analysis is meaningless and thin stuff beside this racy kaleidoscopic slice of life, chronicling the hatred and violence as well as the loyalties and loves of real people. it is funny and moving and in Myers’ bafflement perhaps lies as good an explanation as you’ll get for the troubles.’

Rory Brennan, review of Watching the Door, in Books Ireland (May 2007), judges that ‘for its individualism and … fideltiy to disquietening truth’, Watching the Door will take its place with Murphy's Divided Place, McCann's War and an Irish Town, and de Paor's Divided Ulster (p.105).

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Myers Complaint’ - Irish Examiner (16 July 2008) reports that the Immigrant Council of Ireland has lodved an official complaint with the Gardaí arising from comments made by Myers under the heading “Africa has given nothing to anyone - apart from AIDS” (Irish Independent,Thurs. 10 July) which it deems to be in breach of the Prohibition of Incitement to Hatred Act.

Danny Morrison: Jo O’Donoghue of Mercier/Marino Press writes to The Irish Times (“Letters”, 13 May 2000.) in answer to Kevin Myer whom she accuses of using Danny Morrison’s The Walls Came Down as ‘a launching platform for intemperate attacks on RTÉ, Irish public opinion and the author himself’ in his regular column (Irishman’s Diary, 11 May 2000). [See further under Morrison, Notes, infra.]

Notes
Literary agent
: Myer‘s literary agent was Christopher Sinclair-Stevenson in 2001.

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