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General literature studies

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Published in The Irish Times 20th August 2013.


As a writer, Macken was attuned to the menacing depths that lay behind the physical exterior: the infertile bogland that makes farming problematic, the harsh character of the inhabitants, their callous treatment of one another, their superstitious religiosity and frustrated love affairs. I read most of Macken’s novels as a teenager and enjoyed them enormously. It is a shame that there is little or no critical attention now paid to someone who had such a successful career as a novelist, playwright, actor and director. Even the publication by his son Ultan of a biography, Walter Macken: Dreams on Paper, by Mercier Press in 2009, has not inspired scholars to engage with his work in a serious manner. Perhaps the archive of An Taidhbhearc theatre at the James Hardiman Library in NUI Galway may draw attention to the seminal work he carried out at this important artistic venue.