Stunning landscape drives personal obsession in Limerick writer’s debut novel

Gerard Fitzgibbon

Reporter:

Gerard Fitzgibbon

A LIMERICK writer has said that his debut novel is a story of obsession and self-discovery amid the stunning backdrop of central Italy.

A LIMERICK writer has said that his debut novel is a story of obsession and self-discovery amid the stunning backdrop of central Italy.

‘A Year’s Midnight’ is Ciaran O’Driscoll’s first foray into novel writing after more than two decades of writing poetry, a leap which he said presented itself all at once as a challenge and an opportunity.

The book follows the experiences of an Irish couple, George and Barbara, who move to a fictional location in Umbria seeking reflection, but their intentions and their relationship are tested by a curiosity which develops into an obsession.

The book is loosely based on Ciaran’s own year living in Italy, but the characters are not autobiographical. Instead, the book has allowed him to fulfil his own curiosity about the forces which bring people together, and drive them apart.

“I found it very challenging”, Ciaran said. “To some extent, the story wrote itself, but I wasn’t satisfied with the first draft. George seemed to be a very surly character, and after some work I found the reason why he might be so angry in his childhood.

“George is a writer. He thinks he’s after suffering a nervous breakdown, so he goes to Italy specifically not to write. But when he gets there, things start coming back to him, and he’s totally at a loss as to why.”

Ciaran has worked the landscape of central Italy in as an invisible character itself, which both inspires and overwhelms George and Barbara. In particular, George becomes obsessed with one field, which he is convinced will give him a tremendous revelation about his life if he lets it. However, his growing preoccupation leads to tension between him and his partner.

A native of Kilkenny, Ciaran has lived in Limerick since 1986 and over the past 25 years he has published a number of poetry collections, as well as a memoir of his childhood. ‘A Year’s Midnight’ published by Pighog Press is available at O’Mahony’s bookshop.