Brian Leyden author of "The Home Place"

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The Author Brian Leyden



Brian Leyden lives in County Sligo. He is the author of the short story collection Departures. His work was the subject of the Jacobs Award winning RTE Radio One documentary No Meadows in Manhattan. A regular contributor to RTE Radio's Sunday Miscellany, he is a past winner of the Francis Mc Manus Short Story Award. He also scripted and narrated the documentary Even the Walls were Sweatin’. He has edited issue seven and issue eight of the acclaimed Irish literary journal Force 10. In 1994 he received an Arts Council Bursary in Literature and Death and Plenty, a novel, followed in 1996. He was appointed the first Writer in Residence by Leitrim County Council for the year 2000. His life and work featured on the Carrie Crowley programme, Snapshots on RTE Radio One. Here’s my Heart Break It appeared in the Irish Times Write Now section in February 2001 and his latest book, The Home Place, is a memoir, published by New Island Book in September 2002.



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THE HOME PLACE: A Memoir (New Island Books) ISBN: 1902602919 "This is a beautiful story. Like all good fires it starts small until eventually it warms the whole house". Dermot Healy America Ireland Fund Literature Prize Winner 2002 Starting with the arrival of a National Geographic photographer in Arigna in 1978, The Home Place spans three generations and a century of transformation in a coal mining and hill farming community on the Shannon River. The Home Place also tells the story of Nan, and her identical twin sister Lil, in a tender account of cancer and its impact on the extended family. Through beautifully detailed episodes the author weaves a chronicle of life, loss and the passing on of values. The Home Place is richly peopled and deftly mingles personal memories with a wise and knowing account of a country, its values and traditions. The Home Place is a meticulously crafted chronicle that delights in making the most intimate experience familiar and the local universal. [opening excerpt from The Home Place] We did not see ourselves as a remarkable, far-flung or endangered people. Our way of life, our attitudes, our humour and engagement with our home place hardly deserved the attention of the National Geographic Society. But the National Geographic Journal for November 1978 included an article, Where the River Shannon Flows. A map on page 657 showed the Shannon River; the longest river in Ireland or Britain, and the symbolic divide between the remainder of Ireland and the true West. Adam Woolfitt, the assignment photographer, included a two-page photo essay that highlighted my mother and father, Ann and Matt Leyden, on their family farm overlooking the Shannon. A caption quoted my father: “Don’t stay too long in this country or it will capture you.”

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Other works by Brian Leyden DEPARTURES (Brandon Books, 1992) ISBN: 0863221548 “Timelessness breathes through these affectionate portraits like the pulsebeat of a dream. This book just calls out for reading, for in its evocation of place it gets to the very core of what it means to be Irish.” Vincent Lawrence Sunday Press. The characters, the stories, the social rituals, and the quick irreverent humour of the world of Departures are all presented in the voice of the first person: a youth who sits under the alders by a river bank waiting for the first lines of poetry to form on the tongue; a homesick traveller and pilgrim stranger in London, Amsterdam, and Paris who finds himself back in Ireland in time for an election. A nameless writer living alone in a rented cottage whose first uneasy months in the countryside become a discovery of something tranquil, ageless and perfected. [opening excerpt from Departures] The said the coal mines would not last much longer. And it seemed, with every passing week, another one of the old characters had gone to that dauby graveyard on the the hill.

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DEATH AND PLENTY (Brandon Books, 1996) ISBN: 0863222188 “Brian Leyden is a skilful craftsman and, most importantly, he knows what he is writing about. Leyden’s eye for the incongruous in the conjunction of Tai Chi with fairy forts, Samuel Beckett with sheep farmers and ancient legends with modern industry is what lift this book above the ordinary.” Eamonn Sweeney Sunday Tribune Death and Plenty is a long freefall into love, heartbreak and danger, and the big questions of what it means to belong, to be loved to be Irish. [opening excerpt from Death and Plenty] The affair became a legend. Like so many things that grow more colourful over the years, its roots began in darkness, the darkness in which an audience sat ready to be entertained.


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