ALMOST twenty years’ worth of short stories, witticisms and local histories by the late West Limerick writer, Michael O’Riordan, have been immortalised in a new book, which has been compiled by his son.
Eamonn O’Riordan has just launched the book ‘Beyond the Myths’, which chronicles some of his father’s favourite pieces from his time as a correspondent with the Weekly Observer from 1982 until his death in 1998, at the age of 83.
The book is a 352-page, 91,000 word labour of love which has preserved the stories and characters that leaped from Michael O’Riordan’s typewriter.
“Someone said to me, ‘you must have done a lot of work for it’,” Eamonn said. “But there wasn’t any work involved. I didn’t see it as work. It was a pleasure. My father was a great man, and he always wanted to write about people in Irish history, real people who are never spoken about”.
Throughout his time as a columnist, Michael O’Riordan’s writings became one of the most popular sections of the paper, and he developed a keen following across West Limerick and North Cork.
Eamonn said that his wish to write a book about his father was years in the making. “My father said to me once: ‘if you don’t write a book about me after I die, no one will!’ But I didn’t want to write something just about him, I wanted to share all the stories he’d written during his life.
“But the problem is, everything he wrote was hand typed. You couldn’t just pull it off a computer. It took me about six months to type it all out. Everything in the book was typed out by hand”.
The names of some of stories in the book read like a slow train back into a bye gone era: Paddy the Yank, Go East for Land and West for a Woman, The Cabbage Plantation, Keeping off the Drop, Great Ashford Hurlers, Broadford Creamery, The Land League Priest and Irish Olympian Champions, to name but a few.
Born in 1914, Michael O’Riordan lived in Broadford, Charleville and Kilmeedy before settling at Marian House, Feohanagh in 1954. He worked at Castlemahon creamery until he retired in 1982 and began writing for the Weekly Observer.
The book is available for €10 in shops in Newcastle West, Castlemahon, Dromcollogher and other nearby parishes.