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A Tribute to Nuala O'Faolain

June 24, 2008

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Friends and fellow Irish writers of Nuala O’Faolain, who died in Dublin on May 9, will gather to pay tribute to one of Ireland?s best-loved writers.

Internationally known for her searing memoir, Are You Somebody?, as well as her acclaimed first novel, My Dream of You, O'Faolain was widely respected in Ireland as an award-winning television producer, journalist, and columnist for The Irish Times before her memoir caused a sensation on its publication in 1999. Her unblinking, unsentimental description of an impoverished Irish childhood that struck a chord with readers world-wide became a New York Times bestseller.

Frank McCourt, Paul Muldoon, Fintan O'Toole, Julie Grau, Sheridan Hay, John Low-Beer, and Deidre Brady will honor Nuala Nuala O'Faolaine's life with reminiscence, traditional music, and readings from her work.O'Faolain

Special live musical performance by Susan McKeown, vocals; Eamon O'Leary, guitar; Dana Lyn, fiddle; Cillian Vallely, uillean pipes, flutes; and Lindsey Horner, bass. During March 2005, McKeown appeared with O'Faolain at LIVE from the NYPL.

About Nuala O’Faolain

is the author of Are You Somebody?, My Dream of You, Almost There, and The Story of Chicago May. Her first memoir is often seen as a feminine, and feminist, counterpart to Frank McCourt's Angela's Ashes. 'A lot of us suffered in the Ireland of my day,' she later said. We came out of a culture where women were utterly powerless and children had no value. If you were hit at school you were hit at home for being hit at school. The only education a lot of us got was in neglect and being unloved.

And yet, O'Faolain's humanity softened her observations and her humor was irresistible. Despite being a well-known opinion columnist, a television and radio commentator, and bona fide celebrity, her work often chronicled her own sense of personal failure. She turned her vulnerability into a strength that enabled her to empathize with ordinary people?s fears and hopes. Her opinion column developed from a broadly feminist commentary to a narrative that spanned all aspects of the human condition. Her memoirs touched many readers, who responded by sending her hundreds of letters with their own tales of unhappiness and failed family life.

A resident of Brooklyn for much of the past seven years, O'Faolain ascribed her affinity for the City to her experience growing up one of nine children. ?When you live in the middle of mayhem for so long, you grow to need mayhem to construct peace within it.? As Maura Casey wrote in an Appreciation in the New York Times: 'Although her mortal life has ended, her words, her sympathy and insights, are here. Her writing helped her legions of readers believe in her and in the validity of their own experiences.'

About Deirdre Brady

Deirdre Brady is the next-youngest after Nuala of the nine O'Faolain children. She is the author of Thank You For the Days, a memoir that views the O'Faolain family from a very different perspective than her sister's. She left school when she was fifteen and at 20 years of age she married Eamon Brady, with whom she has seven children. She lives in Dublin.

About Julie Grau

Julie Grau is Senior Vice President and Publisher of Speigel & Grau, a division of Random House. Previously she was Vice President and Publisher of Riverhead Books, where she edited Nuala O'Faolain's novel, My Dream of You, her memoir, Almost There, and her work of biography, The Story of Chicago May.

About Sheridan Hay

Sheridan Hay is a novelist, editor, and teacher. She met Nuala O'Faolain in 1999 and remained a close friend until her death.

About John Low-Beer

John Low-Beer and Nuala O'Faolain met in 2002 and registered as domestic partners a year later. An attorney for the City of New York and a former professor of sociology, Low-Beer lives in Brooklyn with his daughter, Anna.

About Frank McCourt

Frank McCourt received the Pulitzer Prize and National Book Critics Circle Award for his memoir Angela's Ashes. He is also the author of 'Tis and Teacher Man, both international bestsellers. McCourt appeared with O'Faolain and others for "Silence, Exile and Cunning: What?s So Irish About That Anyway" on March 15, 2005, at LIVE from the NYPL.

About Paul Muldoon

Paul Muldoon teaches at Princeton University and is an Honorary Professor in the School of English at the University of St Andrews. He held the chair of Professor of Poetry at Oxford University five years and he is an Honorary Fellow of Hertford College, Oxford University. In 2003 he won the Pulitzer Prize in poetry and in 2007, he became poetry editor of The New Yorker.

About Fintan O'Toole

Fintan O'Toole is a literary critic, historical writer, and political commentator. He is known for his commentary on a remarkably wide-ranging number of subjects cultural, historical, political, social and economic. O'Toole has written for the Irish Times since 1988 and was drama critic for the New York Daily News from 1997 to 2001. He is the author of more than ten books.