Michael Farrell 1899-1962
Michael Farrell, medical student, journalist, radio broadcaster and novelist, was born on Tullow Street, Carlow in September 1899. His parents James and Mary owned a hardware store there until 1924 when they relocated to Dublin. Farrell was educated at Knockbeg College of which he had fond memories and later Blackrock College for which his experiences were not so happy. He then commenced a degree in Medicine at University College Dublin but this was cut short due firstly to imprisonment in Mountjoy Jail for six months during the War of Independence and then a walking tour of Europe accompanied by a fellow medical student. After a spell working as Marine Customs Superintendent in the Congo, Farrell returned a little wealthier to his studies at Trinity College Dublin. However, Farrell's enthusiasm for medicine soon diminished and after a short time teaching he immersed himself in journalism.
Writing was Farrell's true calling and he spent the rest of his life occupied with his one novel "Thy Tears Might Cease"; which was published posthumously in 1963. In 1930 he married Frances Cahill, an established businesswoman, and they settled in Killmacanogue. Farrell spent his time writing and Frances ran her hand weaving business, the Crock of Gold in Dublin. He worked for several years for Radio Éireann writing and producing a program called "Radio Digest". However, he is often best remembered for his writings under the pseudonym of "Gulliver" for Sean O'Faolain's Bell publication who was also a close friend and neighbour. However, after a number of years Farrell departed from journalism and moved into the management of his wife's business in Dublin. He died on June 24th 1962.
Farrell never got to see the publication of his acclaimed novel but this was due mainly to his reluctance to part with it. In 1937 under Sean O'Faolain's initiative the novel was accepted by a publisher in London. However, Farrell spent the next fifteen years in a failed attempt to edit the lengthy book sufficiently and sadly died before he saw his name on the cover. The book was finally edited and submitted by his good friend Monk Gibbon who reduced it by 100,000 words. It was finally published in 1963 and became a bestseller, translated into many languages.
The hero of the book is Martin Mathew O'Reilly whose childhood and subsequent years are heavily influenced by the events of Irish history at the turn of the 20th century. A Catholic boy with strong Protestant links he experiences both sides of the troubles before the catalyst of the 1916 Rising sees him become a strong protagonist in Ireland's fight for freedom. The novel is noted for its depiction of the social and political changes, which affected Ireland at this time, and the birth of a new nation after World War I.
1. Monk Gibbon's foreword to Thy Tears Might Cease.
2. Dictionary of Irish Literature by Robert Hogan. Page 426-427.
3. Michael Farrell, Carlowman (1899-1962) by Martin Lynch for Carloviana '00 Edition.
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