Thursday 25 May 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 and Ulick O'Connor
Donal Lynch and Ulick O'Connor

Donal Lynch

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.

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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