The first part of Thomas McCarthy's book collects his recent short lyrics. Part two daringly recreates a forgotten period in the Anglo-Irish world: a Big House in the years between the World Wars, a FitzGerald ("Geraldine") family that has tilled the soil of County Waterford, absorbed its language and history, and sent young men back to British regiments, particularly the Irish Guards. Focusing on his Gaelic-speaking soldier-poet, Sir Gerald FitzGerald, and his man-servant, Paax Foley, McCarthy creates a fully imagined landscape of men escaped from Irish neutrality to fight against Fascism. Moving from ballad to prose poem, from mid-century Gaelic verse to County Waterford recipes, McCarthy mixes competing loyalties and readings of Irish history to create a single Irish narrative of exile and bereavement, of battles won and love lost and found.
Thomas McCarthy, born in Co. Waterford in 1954, was educated at University College, Cork. He received the Patrick Kavanagh Award in 1977 and the American-Irish Foundation's Literary Award in 1984. His last two books are "Mr Dineen's Careful Parade" (1999) and "Merchant Prince" (2005). He lives in Cork and works at the city library. He is a member of Aosdana.
Not many poets have the gift of being able to write so tenderly about private affections and so acutely about public figures and events. - Brendan Kennelly