Monday 19 February 2018

The late, great JP Donleavy can never, ever be replaced

There was always magic and mischief to discover with the late author, JP Donleavy, writes Victoria Mary Clarke

FAIRYTALE OF NEW YORK: JP Donleavy, Victoria Mary Clarke and Shane MacGowan in The Shelter on Vicar Street, Dublin in 2007. Photo: Tony Gavin
FAIRYTALE OF NEW YORK: JP Donleavy, Victoria Mary Clarke and Shane MacGowan in The Shelter on Vicar Street, Dublin in 2007. Photo: Tony Gavin

Victoria Mary Clarke

'I should warn you, he does have a shotgun. And he doesn't like trespassers." Marina Guinness spoke these words to me while we were already trespassing at Levington Park, the Mullingar estate of the late JP Donleavy.

The year was 2001 and Marina was on a mission to get me writing for the Sunday Independent. She had drawn up a list of potential interviewees and Donleavy was at the top. Reportedly reclusive, rumoured to be a misogynist, and undoubtedly a literary genius, I was thrilled to be meeting the creator of The Ginger Man. The living legend was not at home -but we found him in a pub in Mullingar.

A slender, sprightly figure, elegantly attired in tailored tweeds, with a beatnik beard, he spoke very softly with an old-money American accent, and had piano player's fingers to match the elongated vowels.

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