28th May 1940 to 30th July 2012
An Irish Treasure
Maeve Binchy: she was home, humble, heartfelt and now she has left this world.
I haven’t the strength to write about this tonight. I just heard that Maeve Binchy, the Irish author who captured the best of the Irish people in charming insightful stories, passed away a few hours ago. I was in Dalkey two weeks ago and thought of her there. She had recently read her latest short story at the Dalkey Book Festival. It’s hard to take it in.
I took these pictures of early morning Dalkey where Maeve lived in Ireland and where nature inspired her and nearby Killiney Hill when I was home just two weeks ago :
Maeve Binchy (2010 winner of the Irish Book Awards Lifetime Achievement Award) had her novels translated into 37 languages which sold more than 40 million copies worldwide. There’s a reason they were popular. They touched people with their affection for the simple truths of life. For me, they brought me home when I was far away. When I was losing sense of what it was to be Irish, Maeve reminded me through her characters.
Circle of Friends was made into a film. Here is a taste of it: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hRYfE-FEq9U As lovely as it is though, it cannot truly capture the warmth of reading the words from the page. She had the gift of capturing the best of humanity in its humblest and honest forms. Her own humility was real: “I was very pleased, obviously, to have outsold […] great writers. But I’m not insane. I do realize that I am a popular writer who people buy to take on vacation.”
In other words, her books were read because people, lots of people, identified with what she wrote and it made their lives richer.
My parents had the pleasure of sitting and dining with her once at an event and my Mom (who has since passed away) came home delighted as she had met a wonderful writer who made her feel at ease and happy and was an amazing down-to-earth, kind-hearted person. For that I am eternally grateful. With a kind and wise heart, Maeve put it all in perspective and you finished her books refreshed, renewed and with a new sense of the good rhythm of life. Her clarity made you believe that the world could be fixed with the right attitude one small problem at a time. Her narrative voice was pure and loving. And I feel her passing as if I had lost a close friend.
I have an urge to light a penny candle for Maeve on Lughnasa, an ancient Celtic festival celebrated long ago on the first of August. It seems fitting.
- 1982 Light a Penny Candle
- 1985 Echoes
- 1987 Firefly Summer
- 1988 Silver Wedding
- 1990 Circle of Friends
- 1992 The Copper Beech
- 1994 The Glass Lake
- 1996 Evening Class
- 1998 Tara Road
- 2000 Scarlet Feather W. H. Smith Award
- 2002 Quentins
- 2004 Nights of Rain and Stars
- 2006 Whitethorn Woods
- 2008 Heart and Soul
- 2010 Minding Frankie
Short story collections:
- 1978 Central Line
- 1980 Victoria Line
- 1981 Dublin 4
- 1983 London Transports
- 1984 The Lilac Bus
- 1990 Story Teller: Collection of Short Stories
- 1993 Dublin People
- 1996 Cross Lines
- 1996 This Year It Will Be Different: And Other Stories
- 1998 The Return Journey
- 1999 Aches and Pains non- fiction
- 2002 The Builders novella
- 2002 Irish Girls About Town editor with Cathy Kelly and Marian Keyes
- 2006 Star Sullivan novella
- 2006 A Time to Dance non-fiction
- 2008 The Maeve Binchy Writer’s Club non-fiction
- Deeply Regretted By – a play Jacob’s Award Winner
- Finbar’s Hotel contributor
- Ladies Night at Finbar’s Hotel contributor
… a nation that mourns her and by readers around the world.
Before she passed away she said:
“I don’t have any regrets about any roads I didn’t take. Everything went well, and I think that’s been a help because I can look back, and I do get great pleasure out of looking back. I’ve been very lucky and I have a happy old age with good family and friends still around.”
No anger, no regrets, no fears. Good night and joy be with you all.
That deserves a parting glass from a fellow countryman ♫: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BwVj-G3k8yQ
Maeve Binchy website http://www.maevebinchy.com/
As words of encouragement to all writers, it is worth noting that Maeve’s first work was rejected three times by publishers. Listen to what people tell you and then do what you know in your heart is right. She did.
Online Book of Condolences: http://alturl.com/7suy2