Thomas Kilroy gave a glimpse of his memoir “Over the Backyard Wall” during a launch event on Wednesday 20 February.
The Irish playwright and novelist read an excerpt themed “the allure of the West” to an audience of around 30 people in the event held at NUI Galway.
Mr Kilroy said he was avoiding writing his memoir even though he was asked to several times over the years. He pointed out he had a bad memory, but that changed after his cataract operation.
He told Galway Pulse, “I had a cataract operation on my eyes and one of the results of this operation was that I started to see memories. Very startling, very vivid pictures and it started out with childhood and my mother and that’s how the book developed.”
He also discussed playwriting, prose fiction and an author’s creative process. Mr Kilroy said he is impressed with the human elements in big novels and how there is a natural gift to being a novelist.
“I don’t think I have a natural gift for prose fiction,” he said.
He also said that there are differences between playwriting and prose fiction writing, explaining that the central imagination in a work of fiction is that of the author and novelists have the ability to absorb and unite human factors into a story.
“I just think of it as quite essentially different to the playwriting activity. In playwriting there’s surrender of personal control, I think that’s a very healthy thing,” he said.
He also mentioned an upcoming project, a rendition of his novel The Big Chapel by a street theatre company which will be released next August in Callan.
“But I had nothing to do with it, I just happened to write this book,” he pointed out.
Mr Kilroy grew up in County Kilkenny and studied in University College Dublin. He was a lecturer with the English department in NUI Galway until 1989, when he decided to focus entirely on his writing career.
“It’s a welcome back to Tom,” said Professor Adrian Frazier of the College of Arts, Social Sciences, and Celtic Studies in NUI Galway when introducing the writer.
Thomas Kilroy has won several awards over the years including the Irish Times / ESB Irish Theatre Lifetime Achievement in 2004 and the Irish PEN Award for Literature in 2008.
Over the Backyard Wall: A Memory Book, Thomas Kilroy, Lilliput Press, paperback, 240 pages, €15.