MAEVE Binchy’s irrepressible good humour, humility and honesty were recalled by local people this week who had the privilege of knowing her personally or were fortunate enough to have their work acknowledged by the esteemed author.
Maeve Binchy, who has been described as one of the most popular and critically acclaimed authors in contemporary Irish literature, selling more than 40 million books, died on Monday at a Dublin hospital after a brief illness. She was 72.
Maeve’s second cousin Owen Binchy, who is originally from Charleville and is now living in Dublin, recalled the last time he met Maeve at her first cousin Dan Binchy’s house at Mount Blakeney in Kilmallock.
“It was around last October. She was in good spirits – she always was in good spirits,” he said.
“I knew her quite well. She was a wonderful person. She was so entertaining and amusing,” he added.
Maeve’s father William Binchy was a first cousin of Mr Binchy’s father, Owen Binchy from Charleville.
And he was also related to the author through his mother’s side.
“My mother was a first cousin of Maeve’s father also. Maeve’s grandmother and my grandmother were sisters,” explained Mr Binchy who lives near St Stephen’s Green in Dublin.
And it seems that a way with words runs in the Binchy genes. Mr Binchy’s daughter, Joanna Binchy who lives in Charleville, also “does a bit of writing” according to her father. Maeve’s first cousin, Dan Binchy from Mount Blakeney in Kilmallock, is also an author. In an interview with the Limerick Leader in 2006 he described the bestselling Irish author as “ my closest friend on earth”.
“She is an absolute scream. She would make the stones laugh. I would talk to her four or five times a week. What I would love her to say to me is: ‘I’ll write the books for you!’ but we rarely talk shop when we are together,” he said at the time.
Both Dan and Maeve appeared on shows together in America and when they were asked about the difference between their writing, Maeve would say: “He writes about things and I write about emotions”. “She never mentions the fact that she outsells me by a million!” said Dan at the time.
The author was also remembered by staff and students at Youthreach on O’Connell Avenue in the city this week, particularly for her humility. Teacher Deirdre Curley recalled how one of the students, Shauna O’Connor, received a note from the famous short story writer after she happened upon a review the girl had written about her novel Circle of Friends in a yearbook.
Maeve, who is a distant relative of one of the teachers in Youthreach, came upon the year book on a coffee table during a visit to Limerick and sent the student a thank-you note. “She didn’t have to do that, at all. It’s a testament to her humility. Shauna was very thrilled,” said Ms Curley. The writer also wrote a short story for Youthreach’s charity publication last year Different Voices.