Pádraic Ó Conaire, a central figure in contemporary Irish-language literature, and two of the women in Ó Conaire’s life, one real and one fictional (Caitlín Ní Aodha and Mary Morrison) are the central characters in this novel. Set in the years between 1913 and 1928, the action in Beirt Bhan Mhisniúla moves from North America to London and Dublin before returning once more to North America. We are given a taste of what life was like before 1916 for the Irish (and Irish speakers) in London, where the Canadian woman, Caitlín Ní Aodha, first met Ó Conaire. It was in London that their relationship became intimate and she believed, for a time, that they would be married… She soon learned that Ó Conaire had lied to her and that she wasn’t the only one he had lied to either. In a novel that draws on two of the major themes from Ó Conaire’s own writings, love and betrayal, it falls to the second of the women, Mary Morrison, to come to the aid of the man who has failed her friend Caitlín, and to put Ó Conaire to the test, both as a man and as a writer. Beirt Bhan Mhisniúla was named Literary Novel of the Year by Oireachtas na Gaeilge in the Oireachtas na Gaeilge Literary Competitions, 2010.
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