29 August 2019, The Tablet

Ireland’s Fathers of electric light

Ireland’s Fathers of electric light

Electricity is brought to rural Ireland
ESB Archive


A writer setting a novel centred on the coming of electricity to a west of Ireland village in the 1950s knew one of his characters had to be a priest. In a mysterious way he found that a Jesuit lecturer he knew as a student became his inspiration

When I set out to write a novel, I believe I’m undertaking an act of faith. That probably sounds larger than I intend. Still, it’s true. The book exists only in the vaguest sense at that stage. I have a few notes, but nothing solid, no structure, no plan, only a kind of prompting that grows to the point where one morning in Kiltumper I say to Chris, “I’m going to begin”, and I go into the front room that overlooks the large garden, and I face the white screen.

Some days that’s all I do. Some days that’s the “work” that was done that day. Still, you try to keep the faith, which is not an easy thing in my experience. “The book will come” is what you say to yourself, and anyone else who’s listening. The book will come.

With This is Happiness, what I had was the village of Faha in west Clare, where I had set my previous novel, History of the Rain. And I had the threshold event of the coming of the electricity there in the late 1950s.

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User Comments (1)

Comment by: diarmaidpo
Posted: 31/08/2019 20:49:10
wonderful, & Ardnacrusha's just "down the road". D