From vicious rival brothers to desperate single mothers, frisky newlyweds to frigid life partners, Patrick McGinley covers all kinds of Irish (or simply human) relationship in this collection of short stories. In 14 stories, some brief glimpses of an hour in the life, some longer explorations of years of growing animosity, McGinley explores the ties that bind us: the bond of family, unbreakable even when we wish it severed; the financial and emotional connections we make with our neighbours and colleagues; even the brief and tenuous link between a con artist and his prey. In turns hilarious and heart-wrenching, sweet and savage, Irish Portraits gives the reader a first-hand look at the lives of its characters, a handful of countrymen with one thing in common: their humanity.
Liam O'Flaherty aka Liam Ó Flaithearta (1896-1984) was a significant Irish novelist and short story writer and a major figure in the Irish literary renaissance. O'Flaherty was the son of Maidhc O'Flaithearta and Maggie Ganley of Gort na gCapall. In 1908, at the age of twelve, he went to Rockwell College. This was followed by enrollments at Holy Cross and University College, Dublin. He did not attend the first two schools for long. He had intended joining the priesthood, but in 1917 he left school and joined the Irish Guards under the name 'Bill Ganly'.
He served on the Western Front, where he was injured, and it is possible that the shell shock he suffered may have been responsible for the mental illness which became apparent in 1933. He travelled in the United States and Europe, and the letters he wrote while travelling have now been published. He had a love of French and Russian culture, and this may have been part of the attraction he felt towards communism. Before his death, however, he left the Communist Party and returned to the Roman Catholic faith.
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