AT LEAST YOU'LL NEVER STARVE
general consent, the crème de la crème, not only in Ireland but also in the Britain. It was expensive, and many claimed even more costly than any hotel in London.
In September 1957 I started work as a hotel management trainee. The Russell Hotel in Dublin was situated on the south-western side of St Stephen's Green, on the corner of Harcourt Street. From the foyer and restaurant, there were views of the Green, and opposite the Russell, on the north side, the Shelbourne Hotel, one of the Russell's competitors, stood like an opponent. Around the corner, on Dawson St, there was the Russell's
sister hotel, the Hibernian, while the north end of O'Connell St was home to the Gresham. These four were the top hotels in Dublin, with the Russell by
Thomas at home, 2005
I was sixteen years old, and it had never crossed my mind that I would work in the hotel business. When I had given my future any thought, I had assumed it would include university and probably teaching. At school, I was good at history, had specialised in Irish history and was the recipient of a medal for an essay on Patrick Pearse, the leader of the 1916 Easter Rising. All that had to be given up when my parents explained to me in the summer that due to the severe financial pressure in my father's business, they were no longer able to afford my school fees. As I was the eldest of six, it was necessary for me to go to work.
Finding a job of any sort was not easy in those days in Ireland. It was the time of heavy emigration, the economy stagnating during the last days' of Eamon De Valera's government an old man, long in power, unable and unwilling to do anything to modernise the country. My parents had stayed in the Russell and knew the General Manager, so my father called in a favour, and after a perfunctory interview with M. Pétrel, a large plump Frenchman, I was taken on as a trainee manager. I would not receive any wages but would get all my meals when at work. As we left the hotel, my father in an effort to cheer me up, said in his dry, sardonic way, At least you'll never starve.
The Dispense Bar was not open to the public but was used to supply drink to the restaurant and room service. There I began the first part of my two-year training, with Miss Enright, a member of the sisterhood who comprised the female management in the hotel. An internal room with a sturdy door and a serving hatch, the bar was like a library with racks and shelves of bottles in place of books. There was no daylight, apart from that coming from a window along the corridor to the restaurant. Miss Enright set me to learning by rote the names and origins of the array of liqueurs and brandies and spirits in stock.
The ethos of the hotel and, in particular, the restaurant and kitchen, was French. In addition to M. Pétrel, Frenchmen held the most important posts of Head Chef, Restaurant Manager and Maitre d'Hotel. The menus were in French, the lingua franca in the kitchen was French. At times, this led to some fiery arguments. There was a constant battle between Miss Enright and M. Maurice, the Restaurant Manager. His contract allowed him one large glass of the house Burgundy with his dinner. While his meal was brought to the staff dining room, adjacent to the Dispense Bar, Maurice would come for his glass. Miss Enright never filled it to the brim, so Maurice would shout at her to do so, which she then did reluctantly. If she had to open a fresh bottle to fill the glass, he took a non-too surreptitious slug while she did so. Miss Enright did not drink, was in fact a Pioneer, the Catholic society whose members pledge total abstinence from alcohol. She would say after the nightly joust, I pray for him.
When I had a good knowledge of liqueurs, I was sent to the accounts department, the financial control system of the hotel. Here I learned double entry book keeping. And became aware of the intricacies of the overtime rates, and the mysteries of the waiters' tronc, the method used to pool their tips. Each Thursday Michael Nolan, one of the staff Head Waiters, would present Mr Hall, the accountant, with the list of those guests who had included an additional service charge to their bill as a tip. This amount was added to the tips collected in cash and was divided by a devilishly complex system of quarter, half, single and double shares. On Friday mornings, I accompanied Mr Hall across the Green to the Bank of Ireland, where we drew the week's wages in notes and grey canvas bags of shillings and pence.
After six months, I was deemed house-trained, suitable to be put in front of the guests, and I went to work under the iron rule of Miss Goulding, the Head Receptionist. She ran her section like a military operation. The advance booking sheets were written up in her neat copperplate; every regular guest had an index card listing when and in what room they stayed, and with any special preferences written in red ink. Every time I went on duty, in a black morning jacket, striped trousers and stiff white collar, I was inspected. If there was anything that Miss Goulding found below her standards, I would be sent to rectify it.
Last thing at night, the guests' accounts were balanced and ruled off. The large sheets listed each item charged to a room. Many nights, my eyes heavy with sleep, I checked and rechecked the columns of figures searching for a missing couple of shillings or pence. From time to time, Miss Goulding would peer over my shoulder as I sat at the sloping desk at the side of the Reception desk. How are we doing Mr McCarthy? Not found it yet? By way of encouragement and of keeping me awake, she would pinch my upper arm. Keep checking. It's there. And it usually was.
I learned how essential it was to have their rooms ready when the guests arrived. Mr Slazenger, of the tennis equipment company (their umpires' chairs are used at Wimbledon), a delightful man, friendly and not at all demanding, became stern and furious when he discovered that their room had twin beds and not a double. Miss Goulding went into urgent consultation with Cormac, the Head Porter, and Miss Houlihan, the Head Housekeeper, and a suitable room with a double bed was found for the uxorious Mr Slazenger, whose arm was constantly around his wife's waist.
There were always complimentary theatre tickets in Reception for those of the guests who might wish to use them. They rarely did, and I was often given free tickets for the Abbey and Gate theatres. The Abbey, while waiting to move to the new theatre after the original playhouse burned down in 1951, had a temporary home in the Queen's theatre on Pearse Street, where it stayed until the new Abbey opened in 1966. It produced mostly Irish Catholic propaganda under the watchful eyes of the government appointee. From time to time, the odd gem was staged. There I saw Eugene O'Neill's masterpiece, Long Day's Journey Into Night. There were a couple of productions of Shakespeare each year, sometimes a French classic and usually a Chekhov.
However, it was to the Gate, run by the flamboyant Irish actor, Micheál Mac Liammóir
and his lover and colleague Hilton Edwards, that I went for the most innovative theatre. The young Orson Wells had acted there, as had the British playwright and Nobel Laureate, Harold Pinter. Mac Liammóir and Edwards, known as the Boys, were openly gay at a time when homosexual acts were illegal. With that particular blindness authority has when it suits, the government, with the connivance of the Catholic Church, tolerated them.
One night Mac Liammóir arrived at the Russell, heavily made up, wearing a black cloak with a scarlet silk lining. He stood in the foyer waiting until he was the centre of attention, and then dramatically dropping the cloak on the carpet he advanced towards Siobhan McKenna, a famous Irish actress, and said in a deep dramatic voice, Siobhan! Muirnín! Agus grá mo croí! (Darling! And love of my heart!) It was fashionable in some circles to converse in Irish and Mac Liammóir
was fluent. It certainly helped keep the authorities happy, who were trying and failing to promote the Irish language.
So I began a lifelong love of the theatre. I had known for some time I wanted to be a writer. Back in my hometown, I was involved with the local dramatic society, and it was in those years at the Russell, when I saw at least one play a week, I began my first efforts to write for the stage.
The great and good, the famous and infamous, when in Dublin, either stayed or ate at the Russell. In the mid-fifties, the hotel became notorious when Dawn French, an English film star, was photographed taking a bath in Jersey milk. For a time Miss French was famous, the photograph published whenever a newspaper wanted to demonstrate just how luxurious and decadent the Russell was. They had a point. Poverty in Ireland was extensive and in Dublin was very close to the city centre. Just off O'Connell Street, along Gardiner Street, there were slums of tenement buildings with large families sleeping in one room. A world not changed at all since Sean O'Casey's trilogy of plays set during the Irish revolution, had depicted the world of the Dublin slum-dweller.
Sir Oswald Mosley, the former leader of the British Fascist party was a frequent visitor. Everybody in Dublin knew when he was staying at the Russell as a couple of plain-clothes officers from the Irish Special Branch were posted at the front and rear of the hotel. They hung around, bored and cold, smoking, and were happy to chat to me, or to anybody, just to pass the time.
Ardmore Film Studios in Co Wicklow had recently opened amidst great publicity. We had the opportunity to see live Hollywood stars, something that had most of the country agog. Nobody famous came to Ireland in those days: we were forgotten and unfashionable; this influx of cinematic legends seemed like a huge pat on the back.
Robert Mitchum was in Dublin working in a film co-staring Richard Harris, who was at the start of his career. Mitchum became involved in a brawl after signing a woman's autograph book as Frank Sinatra. The woman's fiancée took exception and had a swing at Mitchum, who retaliated. Richard Harris joined in. By the time they reached the Russell, the press were in pursuit, and it took all of Cormac's knowledge and the calling in of favours the press owed him to keep them out of the hotel.
I saw Rock Hudson being very nasty to his co-star Barbra Rush, reducing her to tears during a publicity shoot in the restaurant. At the time, he was the romantic male lead, the top-box office earner in Hollywood, and a heartthrob. Nobody suspected he was gay it would have been death to his career. He rented a house, and was not seen in Dublin during his stay apart from when he had a publicity gig.
Late one night in the restaurant, I heard the beautiful voice of Mary O'Hara singing haunting songs in Irish, as she accompanied herself on the harp. Soon afterwards, she entered a convent, where she stayed for over twenty years before resuming her singing career.
President Eamon De Valera (he was elected to the largely ceremonial post of President following his retirement as Taoiseach), (Prime Minister), all the government ministers, the diplomatic corps (we did the catering for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs at Iveagh House, just along Stephen's Green) ate in the restaurant. Most of the hierarchy of the Irish Church used the restaurant. One of the Archbishops, resplendent in morning coat and episcopal regalia, lunched on two eggs fried in butter, served with mashed potato. He had, he always informed his guests, a delicate stomach.
James Cagney, also in Dublin to make a film, introduced me to rhum baba. A serious epicurean, he was easy, friendly, and very affable. By then I had progressed to serving the desserts. I wheeled the trolley alongside his table. How's the rhum baba, son?
Very good, sir, I'm sure.
You tasted it?
No, Mr Cagney.
Go ahead, taste it, tell me what you think.
I'm not allowed to. Besides, I've never eaten rhum baba, so my opinion wouldn't be worth much. I was floundering and a tad embarrassed. He sensed this and motioned the Head Waiter across.
John, this young man tells me he has never even tasted rhum baba. I think it's time he did. Don't you?
Of course, Mr Cagney.
I cut a piece and ate it. It was delicious and I said so. James Cagney said in his threatening voice. That's one of my rules son. Try everything once and most of the time you'll be pleased. He winked, and it became my job whenever I served him dessert to taste it first.
My last six months training were spent in the kitchen. There I did get to taste all the food. It was one of many lessons I learned, the importance of constantly tasting as you cook. In most other ways, it was a hellhole, hot and sweaty, down in the bowels of the building, an all-male environment. Any of the younger female staff with business in the kitchen was invited in lurid and explicit terms, to go to the vegetable store in the cellar outside under the street. The goading of management trainees was tolerated, seen as part of toughening us up after the effete atmosphere upstairs. Within days, I was told to get a glass hammer to break ice; to make a bouquet garni and add it to the jars of fruit cooking in a saucepan. When I did not respond and was smugly congratulating myself on escaping such humiliations, I was sent to the Sous-Chef to make a sauce. A ferret-faced Dubliner, the Sous-Chef stood by the rectangular stove, the centrepiece of the kitchen, with the different chefs, Chef de Legume, Chef de Roti, Chef du Poisson, working around it, calling out orders and information or just gossiping.
Stir quickly otherwise it will curdle. As I whisked and stirred, my arm started to ache, the sweat ran down my face, I could feel the band of my toque getting wetter, the kitchen seemed even hotter than usual. I realised the oven door below had been opened slightly to allow the heat to escape. I nudged it shut with my knee. Don't do that! the Sous-Chef screamed. It needs the heat to rise.
It was an initiation rite. I stirred the mixture of flour, water and sugar and carried on until the futility of the joke bored them. The orders started to come down from the restaurant, the Maitre Chef, M Roland, stood by the hot plate, resplendent in his immaculate snowy jacket and apron and freshly pressed blue and white check trousers, his very high toque at a jaunty angle. He called out the names of the chefs and the orders for food in French, Monsieur Jacky, deux potage Henri le huit Oui, Chef. Monsieur Rocky, un faisan roti avec pommes chips. (Pommes chips, the French name for crisps, served with roast game.) Oui, Chef. And the serious business of the day began.
Although I didn't particularly enjoy my time in the kitchen, I learned about food, about the importance of fresh ingredients, of eating in season; how to chop vegetables quickly and accurately using a big knife; how to cook, above all how not to waste any leftovers. I cut my fingers, burned my arm when I slipped and came down on the red-hot stove. Cracking open Dublin Bay prawns left me with striated thumbs for months afterwards. What I learned was useful in other ways. When I began to eat out, I never felt intimidated by a snooty Maitre d'Hotel or a patronising sommelier.
French and no friends, I read about Joyce's life, his peripatetic childhood, his attendance at Clongowes Wood College, where my
father and all my uncles had been educated. (My brothers and I were not, for some reason I never discovered.) I read Professor Ellman's analysis of the Joycean cannon and it was no bad introduction to reading Joyce. In Lyon, I bought A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man and Stephen Hero, the first draft of A Portrait of the Artist.
At the end of my two years in the Russell, I went to France to finish my training. To travel to France to work for a year was a big adventure back then. My French was limited to what I had learned in the Russell. I needed a visa, and various permits to reside and work. There were no direct flights to Lyon so I flew from Dublin airport to Paris. Brendan Behan, who was seeing off one of the Guinness family on the same flight, danced an impromptu jig with Katie Barry, a tinker woman and a singer, on the viewers' balcony by way of farewell. At Orly airport, a cousin who was working in Paris for a year, met me and took me to the Gare de Lyon where I entrained for the long journey to Lyon.
As a going-away present, my parents gave me Richard Ellman's biography of James Joyce. All of Joyce's books were banned in Ireland but by some strange omission, the biography was not. During those first lonely months in Lyon, with my scant
Thomas in Lyon, 1960
By then, I was puzzled by the, to my mind, godless French, who though proclaiming themselves Catholics, did not practise any of the self-denial bred into me. They did not attend mass on Sundays nor abstain from eating meat on Fridays. Lent seemed to glide by them without any of the fast days on Monday, Wednesday and Friday that were part of my religion. I wondered why they were not struck down. But they were not. Not only that, they were relaxed about sex. There were prostitutes on the streets on Sunday mornings and it was not uncommon to see a respectable family man come from mass and head off for an assignation before returning home for lunch. This added to my questioning of Catholicism on rational grounds, but emotional and family ties still held me to it. I understood the intellectual concept; the framework was perfect, it all fitted provided you were able to make the leap of faith. I was no longer sure that I could, as I hovered between apostasy and religious fervour.
When I read The Portrait, I did so with a horrified sense of recognition. The boyhood of Stephen Dedalus, in particular the sermons he sat through during the annual retreat were almost word for word those that had terrified me at boarding school a few years earlier. The eternity of Hell, the pestilential stench, the bodies of the damned crammed together. The nightmares I had about having to empty the Pacific Ocean using only a thimble, or of being flung alive into a vat of boiling oil, were still vivid and recent.
For a time, during those early summer months in Lyon, I found myself drifting back to my religion through a combination of remembered fear and of the effect on my parents. We were a devout family. My father's brother was Jesuit missionary in what was then Northern Rhodesia, and is now Zambia, who later became a teacher at Clongowes. My mother's twin sister was a nun. There were distant relatives who were priests, and my parents counted half a dozen or more members of the clergy among their friends. The Patrician Brothers and the Vincentian Fathers had educated me. To leave that, turn my back on what had been an integral part of my life, was to risk the wrath and hurt it was bound to cause my parents. Reading the sermons in The Portrait delayed my decision, overrode my intellect for a while.
That summer I bought Ulysses, in the Bodley Head edition. It would be nice to record that I bought it on 16 June, the date on which the novel's activities take place, but if I had, I am sure I would have written that on the flyleaf instead of June 1960. The three books are still on my shelves. During the rest of my year, I read Ulysses without understanding much of it, apart from Molly's soliloquy, as erotic an experience as I had been warned.
It was in Lyon, sitting in cafes on my day off, eking out a café au lait, that I struggled to write a play. By then I had discovered the American library, where the librarian, Marie-Claire, made me very welcome. From there I borrowed and read all of Eugene O'Neill's plays, those of Thornton Wilder, and Arthur Miller. Marie-Claire nudged me in the direction of Hemingway, of Steinbeck and Scott Fitzgerald. An English friend lent me his copy of Sons and Lovers, by D.H. Lawrence, a novel that also had a profound effect on me. It helped me understand my own difficult relationship with my mother, made me realise that it was not abnormal to both love your mother and yet struggle to break free from a relationship that was at times stifling under the burden of expectation.
I read widely, for pleasure, for knowledge, for instruction how to construct a play and perhaps O'Neill with his complicated sets and elaborate stage directions was not the best example.
The work in the restaurant was hard, the hours long. The agreement with the Russell was that I should spend half the year in the restaurant and half as a trainee chef. I had little desire to return to kitchen work, and M Lafoy, the owner of the restaurant Farge, though personally kind was irascible and lost his temper without warning. Like a number of self-made men, he did not delegate and was always liable to interfere. The kitchen brigade accepted it as he was a well-known chef, but the waiters and the numerous headwaiters would not, so we were often short-staffed.
I grafted in the brasserie and on the terrasse; my day started at six am when I opened the bar. A surprising number of early morning workers would stand at le zinc, the counter of the bar, and kick-start their day with un petit rouge. Later I learned there was a pattern, that some of them made their journey to work by way of a number of glasses in bars and cafes. Around ten, I helped to set up the restaurant for lunch, scrubbing the floor, polishing the cutlery and the glasses. We ate at eleven, all the waiters and chefs and kitchen and brasserie staff sitting at a long table. There was wine, which sometimes went to my head, leaving me rather woozy as I served lunch between twelve and whenever the last customer left. In the afternoon, I patrolled the terrasse, waiting for the hour of the aperitif at five. Then back to the restaurant for dinner, which might end anytime between eleven, and midnight.
It was a time of unrest in France; the crisis in Algeria dominated the news. The local paper carried regular reports of killings in Lyon, of bodies shot and dumped in back streets. President De Gaulle had been elected the previous year as the first president of the fifth Republic in the belief he was the one man able to bring Algeria fully back under French control.
Le Patron was ambitious and took on work regardless of whether he had enough staff. There was a function room on the first floor over the restaurant, used for lunches by a number of clubs, where I usually had to serve on my own. A group of French army officers met there for lunch twice a month. Informal affairs, once seated, they removed their Sam Browne belts and opened their tunics. I was familiar with a number of the younger officers, and was known as le jeune irlandais, Tomas, after I had corrected the adjutant when he referred to me as l' anglais. I enjoyed their banter, the friendly way they treated me.
One day the aperitifs went on past the normal 12.30 deadline when the commanding officer, usually a general, would say 'Messieurs, a table.' This time I went round twice with the bottles of champagne. Then the adjutant called me aside and told me to fetch le Patron. He stood whispering with the general and the adjutant on a little balcony over the stairs, where every morning the waitresses pressed the table linen. I was called over to join them. Le Patron said, We have a very important visitor today, that is why we are late. He informed me that President De Gaulle was on his way and would join the officers for lunch.
We crowded outside as a team of security men searched the room. By then le Patron had changed into a fresh chef's tunic, a kerchief around his neck and newly laundered check trousers. He fussed and panicked a little as the guards, some big bulky men, others small and wiry, muttered in walkie-talkies. The party returned to the room and stood around the table. The adjutant closed the door and I heard the general address his officers.
President De Gaulle came through the back entrance amidst tight security, flanked by several bodyguards. A screen normally used to close off part of the restaurant when we were not too busy, shielded him from the customers and the entrance. The President mounted the stairs briskly, slightly stooped, wearing his army uniform, his kepi under his arm.
Le patron introduced me as, 'le jeunne irlandais étudiant, mon Général.'
President De Gaulle had lost his angular shape. Despite the impeccably tailored uniform, it did not conceal the considerable paunch, nor disguise the fleshy jowls. This was not such a surprise as I had seen him on TV when he made his speeches appealing directly to the French people. In his precise, beautifully modulated, slow French, (in my early months, when my French was not good I was always able to follow his speeches) he asked how I was enjoying France. What did I like the most? The food, I replied. Where was I from in Ireland? Cork, in the south. Yes, he knew where it was. Did I miss my home? At times, yes. And what was my favourite part of Ireland? That was easy. In the torpid Lyonnaise summer heat, I longed for a fresh breeze off the Atlantic, some wind and rain sweeping in over the mountains to freshen the day. Kerry, I said, a small village called Parknasilla, where I went on holidays with my parents. Parknasilla. He repeated it, Parknasilla.* With that, he shook my hand and went into lunch and a round of applause.
I did not see him again. My job was to bring the food up from the kitchen and return with
*(Following President De Gaulle's resignation in 1968, he went to Ireland on holiday, to Heron's Cove near Parknasilla in Co Kerry.)
the used crockery. Three of the President's staff served the food, one of whom tasted each dish before serving the President.
What brought President De Gaulle to Lyon in secret? There was no mention of it in any of the local or national papers. None of the other staff knew as the President had arrived and left by a private entrance, and I did not tell them as le Patron had sworn me to secrecy about his visit. I can only guess that it was part of President De Gaulle's policy of wooing the French army.
By then the Organisation Armée Secrète (the OAS), a force dedicated to keeping Algérie française (Algeria is French), was gaining in influence. That year, 1960, there were a number of murders in Lyon. The police rounded up Algerians and other North Africans at will. One afternoon I was walking with an English friend near the Place de la Républic when we heard the whistles, the shouts, and the hee-haw of the emergency services. The Corps Républicain de Sécurité (the CRS), the anti-riot squad who were on stand-by in parked vans up side streets, waiting to break-up any
gathering not to the authorities' liking, charged across the street, batons swinging, to disperse a crowd of Algerians. I stood watching, and would have been clubbed to the ground if my friend had not grabbed my arm and pulled me into the safety of a shop doorway.
The following year in 1961 there was an unsuccessful putsch. The negotiations, which led in 1962 to Algerian independence, had already begun, and it is now known that long before then President De Gaulle concluded that Algeria could not remain under French control. As he had been returned to power as the man who would keep Algeria as a French département, the sense of betrayal, of outrage, grew. The hatred for President De Gaulle, particularly by the French settlers born in Algeria, the pieds-noirs, families who had lived there for over a hundred years, exploded into violence.
As a man whose life had been devoted to the French army before he entered politics, I can only assume that President De Gaulle was seeking to convert the officer class to the unpalatable fact that the French armed forces could not win the war to retain control of Algeria. That there would have to be negotiations with the Algerian resistance movement, the Front de libération nationale, (the FLN). When Algeria gained independence, it almost destabilised France. Some of the French armed services mutinied; the OAS increased its efforts to assassinate President De Gaulle.
My Christmas in Lyon was memorable. I went on duty at six pm on Christmas Eve and we served dinner up to midnight. There was a lull as people went to midnight mass in the church of Saint Bonaventure, across from the Farge in Place des Cordeliers. We barely had time to clean up, to re-lay the tables before we resumed serving until six on Christmas morning. I managed to get away to the Post Office on Place Bellecour, where I made my pre-booked phone call to my parents. The three-minute call all I was allowed by the telephone operator due to the pressure on the antiquated Irish telephone service cost me the best part of a week's wages. Walking back along the deserted Rue de la République, I was a little tearful, longing to be at home for the big family Christmas, with all our own customs and little treats. This lasted until I reached the Farge, where my homesickness vanished in the rush of customers as they arrived for lunch.
At seven in the evening, I walked to my room on the Cours Franklin Roosevelt. The local cafe was still open. I was friendly with Andre, the barman who had waited for me in his deserted bar. On his shelves was a bottle of Jameson Irish whiskey. Over a couple of large ones, we wished one another Bon Noel. Andre bought a second round. Almost asleep on my feet, I went home to bed and slept for fifteen hours until eleven the next morning.
At the end of my time in Lyon, I knew the hotel business was not for me. A year or so later, after the production of my play by the local dramatic society, I concluded that I was not meant to be a playwright either.
When in time I discovered I wanted to write short stories, I had the experience of my hotel career. The first story I had published, Mammy's Boy, is set in an unnamed Dublin hotel with a view across St Stephen's Green. It was accepted for the first PEN short story anthology and the editor, Peter Ackroyd, mentioned it in his introduction. When Nicholas Shrimpton reviewed the collection in the London Sunday Times, he singled out Mammy's Boy as a fine example of the art of the short story. Since then I have written a further five stories set in hotels or restaurants, and used my knowledge of the industry as background in a novel.
My father was also literally correct about not starving. Being able to cook, knowing food, how to use it and when to buy it, has meant I have lived well and cheaply and I hope with a healthy diet. The hotel business was not what I wanted to do, but in a way, it was an extraordinary education.
THOMAS McCARTHY was born in Mallow, Co. Cork and educated there and in Dublin. He has lived in France and Ireland and now resides in Peterborough, England.
His stories have been published in PEN New Fiction 1 & 2; Sunk Island Review; Paris Transcontinental; The Literary Review; Cimarron Review; New Irish Writing; The Irish Press; StoryQuarterly. A collection of stories, The Last Survivor, was published in 1985. In May 2000 his novel, A Fine Country, was published. A new collection, Finals Day & Other Stories, was published in October 2002. He is also a contributor to Rugby World magazine.
In 1990 he co-founded and co-edited the magazine Passport, which was published until 1995. For a number of years he was Chairman of Writers in Peterborough and on their behalf led a creative writing class for five years. He has been Writer-in-Residence at Impington Village College, Cambridge.
[copyright 2005, Thomas McCarthy]