Acclaimed Irish writer speaks at ConU

Acclaimed Irish author Sebastian Barry delivered a memorable performance at Concordia’s J.A. de Seve Cinema Friday night.

Reading from his most recent novel, A Long, Long Way, Barry slowly captured his audience’s imagination by drawing them alongside the book’s main character, an Irish soldier in World War I named Willie Dunne. Once there, audience members became encompassed in the story of Dunne and his brothers in arms as they struggled to survive the trenches of the Great War.

During the reading, Barry asked those in attendance to close their eyes and envision the events of his novel. Participating students and staff were left in awe as they imagined the yellowish cloud of poison gas seep into the trenches as the Royal Dublin Fusiliers struggled to repeal German attacks.

Born on July 5, 1955, Barry was educated at Trinity College in Dublin, Ireland. A playwright, poet and author, Barry has received numerous awards for his various works.

In 1988, he won the BBC/Stewart Parker Award for Boss Grady’s Boys, a play that explores the relationship between two brothers living on a farm on the Cork/Kerry border. Seven years later, Barry’s The Stewardship of Christendom earned a spot on Broadway and received the Christopher Ewart-Biggs Memorial Prize, the Ireland/America Literary Prize, the Critics’ Circle Award for Best New Play and the Writers’ Guild Award for best fringe play.

His latest play, Whistling Psyche, has received decent reviews. British Theatre Guide critic Philip Fisher said Whistling Psyche “succeeds in sympathetically recreating the life of a fascinating woman in a most unusual but illuminating way.”

Barry’s poetry includes The Water Colourist (1983) and Fanny Hawke Goes to the Mainland Forever (1989). He also wrote a children’s novel entitled Elsewhere: the Adventures of Belemus (1985).

A Long, Long Way succeeds Barry’s last novel, Annie Dunne , and received a rave review from Kirkus Reviews that said “Barry is authentic and unflinching as a novelist of the war, neither sparing nor over dramatizing….Flawless, honest, humane, moving.”

Barry now lives in County Wicklow, Ireland. His academic posts include Honorary Fellow in Writing at the University of Iowa and Writer Fellow at Trinity College.


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