Back to McGahern's Roots - Launch on the Shannon


On Friday, the 22nd of July 2011, the organisers of the annual John McGahern International Seminar arranged a launch with a difference on the river Shannon, where the writer would sometimes escape to do some some fishing or simply to relax during his youth. He also walked regularly along the banks of the river close to Cootehall, where the family moved to be with their father, a Garda sergeant, after the premature death of their mother.

On a beautiful sunny day, in an idyllic setting, Professor Luke Gibbons of NUI Maynooth stated how appropriate it was that there should be a launch of Eamon Maher's significant book in such a setting. Catholicism is a theme that influenced almost everything McGahern wrote and he was a lot better informed on the subject than he would sometimes let on: he was, for example, an astute reader of Saint Augustine and of the writings of Pascal.

Eamon Maher's study manages to capture the importance of that seminal influence in the various works of fiction and the memoir, while also demonstrating the evolution of Irish Catholicism in the period covered by McGahern's oeuvre. At a time of great upheaval for the Catholic Church in Ireland, it was important to explore the extent to which religion controlled the lives of people in the Ireland up until very recently, Professor Gibbons stated.

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