Alice Taylor


Life
1938- ; b. 28 Feb., Newmarket, Co. Cork; ed. Dromanarigle School., St Mary’s Secondary School, and Drishane Convent, Co. Cork; raised in small farm; telephonist in Killarney and Bandon; on marriage to Gabriel Murphy moved to Innishannon; m. Gabriel Murphy of Innishannon, Co. Cork, and ran guest-house, then supermarket-cum-post office; four sons and a dg.;
 
issued To School Through the Fields (1988), anecdotal autobiography and classic account of Irish childhood based on the neighbourhood of Innishannon; published by Steve MacDonogh, it became best-seller Irish-published book in Ireland up to that date; issued sequels as Quench the Lamp and The Village (1992);
 
issued The Woman of the House (1997), a first novel; issued Going to the Well (1998), poems; issued Across the River (2000), a novel; issued A Fallen Leaf (2004), a memoir of bereavement; suffered death of her husband, Dec. 2005; issued House of Memories (2005), concerning the struggle of the Conway family to survive after the father’s sudden death. ATT
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Works
Memoir
  • To School Through the Fields (Dingle: Brandon 1988; NY: St Martins Press 1990; London: Century Publ. 1991), 275pp.;
  • An Irish Country Diary (Dingle: Brandon 1988);
  • Quench the Lamp (Dingle: Brandon 1990), 196pp. and Do. (NY: St Martins Press 1991) [into ISIS large print 1992];
  • The Village (Dingle: Brandon 1992, 1996);
  • The Woman of the House (Dingle: Mount Eagle 1997);
  • Going to the Well (Dingle: Mount Eagle 1998), 89pp.;
  • Across the River (Dingle: Mount Eagle 2000), 283pp.;
  • A Fallen Leaf: A Journey Through Bereavement (Dnigle: Brandon Press 2004), 160pp.;
  • House of Memories (Dingle: Brandon Press 2005, 2006), 288pp.;
  • The Parish (Dingle: Brandon Press 2008), 221pp.
 
Reprints incl. To School Through the Fields and Quench the Lamp [one vol.] (London: Century Publ. 1991; 1996), 154, 173, 156pp.; Country Days; Quench the Lamp; To School Through the Fields [uniform edn.] (Brandon Press 1999), all 192pp.

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Poetry
  • Close to the Earth (Dingle: Brandon Press 1989) [port. on cover];
  • The Journey: New and Selected Poems (Dingle: Brandon Press 2009), 206pp.
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Miscellaneous
  • Secrets of the Oak (Brandon ?1992), fairytale for children;
  • Night Before Christmas (Brandon 1994);
  • A Country Miscellany (Mount Eagle 1999), 123pp. [essays];
  • Introduction to Stephen Rynne, Green Fields: A Journal of Irish Country Life [1938] (Dingle: Brandon 1995);
  • A Child’s Book of Irish Rhymes (Bath: Barefoot 1996), 48pp. [ill. by Nicola Emoe].
 
Discography
  • An Evening with Alice Taylor (Dingle: Brandon Books 2001), sound-cassette [90mins.]
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Commentary
Books Ireland
: ‘There is no writer more full of the milk of human kindness … this book will find a ready market among her fans.’ (Brandon Catalogue, 1994-95, p.9, attached to listing for Country Days, 1988.)

Hugh Oram, review of The Parish, in Books Ireland (Sept. 2008): ‘She tells the story of life in the parish just as it has been for so many generations, so it has great continuity. We have all moved on in the twenty years since Alice had her first big hit and the country has changed inexorably and in many places, dramatically. But for [sic] anyone who enjoys a sense of continuity and a sfeeling that the tried and trsuted old ways of playing out the social life of a village and parish are more or less as they always were, will get great enjoyment from the book. She’s a shrewd observer and writes of how young people these days have clipped heavy mortages round their necks, that is if they can get them in the first place [...]’ (p.182.)

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Quotations
Seasonal Tale from The Night Before Christmas ’: ‘It was well-known in the town that the Taylor’s jennet had to be kept at a safe distance and whenever he stood tethered to a pole in the street he was given a wide berth by passers-by; his hooded eyes were always on the look-out for a likely victim. He would stand by the side of the street pretending to be asleep waiting for the unwary to venture too close[,] and when absent-minded pedestrians came along he would whip his long jaw in their direction and sample an elbow and if he got them in time, or a bottom if they were moving away [… &c.]’ (In Sunday Independent, 24 Dec. 1995 [Leisure], 9L.)

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The Night Before Christmas (1994): ‘The Magic of Christmas was out in the moonlight haggard with the cattle and down the fields with the sheep but most of all it was here in the holly-filled kitchen with the little battered crib under the tree and the tall candle lighting the window. The candle was the light of Christmas and the key that opened the door into the holy night.’ (Excerpt in Brandon Press Catalogue 1994-95).

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