Monday 5 December 2016

Mary Kenny: the country's girl - Edna O'Brien

A gala tribute to Edna O'Brien confirms her as a national treasure

Published 10/04/2016 | 02:30

Mary Kenny
Mary Kenny

Since the Republic of Ireland doesn't award national honours, other ways have to be devised to honour those who have shown themselves to be an adornment to the nation. And so, there's to be a gala evening of tributes to the writer Edna O'Brien at Dublin's Gaiety Theatre on April 24: a fitting tribute to a person whom the writer Philip Roth has described as "the most gifted woman now writing in English".

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The soiree has been conceived by theatrical producers Moya Doherty, John McColgan and Pat Moylan and will feature tributes from musicians, singers, actors and writers. Edna herself will be present; it'll surely be a memorable occasion.

As I've mentioned in a memoir, I was once, for a short time, Edna O'Brien's secretary, and like a lot of jobs I did in my life, I seem to have been hopeless at it. She was an indulgent employer - too soft, really, to be anyone's boss - and I think that not a lot of secretarial letters got written. But the experience gave me something of an insight into her warm, feminine personality: such a mixture of guileless vulnerability and determined steeliness; always attentive to her appearance and presentation, and yet, entirely without frivolity or shallowness.

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