I was born in Ireland, and after completing an MA at University College Dublin in 1970, I moved to Canada for further studies at McGill University in Montreal. I taught in the English Department at Vanier College for many years, and for limited periods at université de Caen, France, and at université de Montréal.
My new book is a memoir, A Migrant Heart, published in September 2014. Its main focus is on growing up in Ireland, settling in Montreal and the many ways in which these two homes interconnect with each other and with wider worlds known through travel; closely related to this story is an exploration of the father-son relationship and the discovery of literature and its enabling influence in a life.
I have been writing for over thirty years in a variety of genres and have had books published in Ireland and Canada, the United States and the UK. My first book, Outstaring Nature’s Eye, was a study of the novels and stories of John McGahern. This interest in McGahern has been central and has continued up to the present. It has inspired many articles and reviews over these decades, culminating in a recent investigation of how he found his style and outlook in the first decade as a writer, Young John McGahern: Becoming a Novelist.
My interest in Irish fiction and memoir has also led to the writing of a biography of Brian Moore, The Chameleon Novelist, and articles, conference presentations and reviews on many twentieth century Irish writers. Much of this work has been published in Irish Studies journals, such as Irish University Review, the Canadian Journal of Irish Studies and Irish Review, and as chapters in books.
I have also published personal essays in literary reviews such as Dublin Review, Irish Pages: A Journal of Contemporary Writing, Threepenny Review, and Brick: A Literary Journal. Some of this work has been shortlisted in the annual Canadian Broadcasting Corporation Literary Competition and has won a Maclean-Hunter Fellowship for Non-fiction at the Banff Centre. I have also written book reviews for national newspapers in Canada, blogs on the Irish Times ‘Generation Emigration’ site, and have broadcast many personal essays on ‘Sunday Miscellany’ on RTE Radio 1.
My next book will be The Found Voice: Writers’ Beginnings, an investigation of how Alice Munro, V. S. Naipaul, Mavis Gallant, William Trevor and J.M. Coetzee found their writing voice for the first time.