Frank Delaney. I was given the first in his “Novel of Ireland” series some years ago. Called, simply, Ireland, the story is set in 1951 and is about the last surviving seanchaí (itinerant storyteller) in the country. Frankly, it took me some time to warm to the book, but when I turned the final page, kids, I was knocked out. There’s a lot more than meets the initial eye, and I was impressed by both the finely crafted tale and the gorgeous writing. Other books in this series are Tipperary, Shannon, Venetia Kelly’s Traveling Show, and The Matchmaker of Kenmare (I haven’t yet read the last two, but I delighted in the series’ first three).
Born in County Tipperary, Delaney moved to England as a young man, where he had a distinguished twenty-five-year career as a creator of BBC documentaries on both literary and Irish subjects. He also began writing books, was a panel judge for many literary prizes, and is still a well-known lecturer. He moved to the United States in 2002.
Honestly, I haven’t read Ulysses—it’s 265,000 words, y’all (of Joyce’s works I’ve read only Dubliners and A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man)—but I have listened to quite a few of Delaney’s podcasts and they’re enchanting. Here’s the episode from June 16, which celebrates Bloomsday, a celebration of the life of James Joyce and an informal reenactment of the events of the single day that passes in the thousand or so pages of Ulysses. Enjoyce!
Jamie Chavez is an editor, writer, and blogger.
This article reprinted by permission, © 2011.