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Monday 16 January 2017

Chronicles of 
a friendship between two men of letters

Letter writing is a lost art, but not for Ulick O'Connor and Tony O'Reilly. Donal Lynch visited the former at his Dublin home

Donal Lynch

Published 06/07/2014 | 02:30

Donal Lynch and Ulick O'Connor
Donal Lynch and Ulick O'Connor

To enter Ulick O'Connor's rambling, book-strewn homestead in Victorian Rathgar is to travel back in time to an era when he was the nearest thing we had to a literary oracle - a sort of Celtic Gore Vidal - and a seemingly-permanent fixture on the national airwaves.

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He is at a loss to describe how this happy time ended - he says there is now an unofficial ban on his appearing on RTE - but the wit and wisdom of his Late Late Show heyday lives on within the Havisham gloom of these four walls.

In a voice like tarnished silver he describes the artefacts and sundry mementoes that line the walls - pictures of himself winning national pole-vaulting titles in his youth, the Japanese masks of the mythical figure of Deirdre (in her youthful and aged incarnations) that glower blankly from the walls of his study - remnants from his Noh plays - and in the living room, the poster from his one-man Brendan Behan play at the Abbey in 1971, ("it ran longer than any one-man show there").

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