Praise for Declan Burke: “Burke shows again that he’s not just a comic genius, but also a fine dramatic writer and storyteller.” – Booklist. “Proust meets Chandler over a pint of Guinness.” – Spectator. “Among the most memorable books of the year, of any genre.” – Sunday Times. “A hardboiled delight.” – Guardian. “Imagine Donald Westlake and Richard Stark collaborating on a screwball noir.” – Kirkus Reviews. “A cross between Raymond Chandler and Flann O’Brien.” – John Banville.

Saturday, January 3, 2009

Now That’s What I Call An Irish Crime Writer # 1: The ROCK

Being part the first of what will probably be a very short series on my new heroes for 2009, to wit:
O’Connor, Roger, for many years a prominent character in Irish affairs, son of Roger Conner, the descendant of an opulent London merchant, was born at Connerville, in the County of Cork, in 1762. Possessed of ample means, and having received a good education, he was called to the English Bar in 1784. He more than once suffered imprisonment for being involved in the revolutionary designs of the United Irishmen, and was consigned to Fort George in Scotland, with his brother Arthur, Thomas A. Emmet, Neilson, and others. He was subsequently engaged in several not very creditable transactions. He was proved to have wasted his brother Arthur’s property, which he held in trust, to the extent of £10,000. His residence, Dangan Castle, once the home of the Wellesley family, was burnt down shortly after he had effected an insurance for £5,000, Twice married, he eloped with a married lady. In 1817 he was tried at Trim for complicity in the robbery of the Galway coach and murder of the guard, and was acquitted, although there were grounds for believing that he had planned the affair to secure certain letters, the possession of which was of importance to him. An agent to whom he had paid £700 was robbed of the money before he was clear of O’Connor’s land, by persons who were never discovered. Roger O’Connor has been described as “a hale, hearty, joyous, good-humoured, kindly- looking, broad-faced, honest-minded seeming person - a man in the full vigour of life … His conversational powers were of a high order; his manner was fascinating; his tone of voice sweet and persuasive; his style impressive, full of energy, and apparent candour; his language eloquent, and always appropriate.” In 1822 he published, in London, in two bulky volumes, Chronicles of Eri, being the History of the Gael, Sciot Iber, or Irish People; translated from the Original Manuscripts in the Phoenician Dialect of the Scythian Language. The work is dedicated to his friend Sir Francis Burdett, and is illustrated with numerous maps and plates. A portrait of the author faces the title-page, with the words: “O’Connor Cier-rige, head of his race, and O’Connor, chief of the prostrated people of this nation. Soumis, pas vaincus.” The book is an extraordinary production; as far as the annals are concerned, a piece of gross literary forgery. Roger O’Connor openly advocated the most extreme free-thinking opinions in religion. He died at Kilcrea, County of Cork, 27th January 1834, aged 71, and was buried in the vault of the MacCarthys at Kilcrea.
  Apparently O’Connor adopted the acronym ROCK, for ‘Roger O’Connor, King’. Oh, and the ‘certain letters’ he was alleged to have robbed the Galway mail to secure were love letters that would have incriminated his good friend, Sir Francis Burdett.
  They just don’t make ’em like that anymore, do they?

1 comment:

Philip said...

Oh, this is good, Dec. "...the Phoenician Dialect of the Scythian Language." Anyone with the chutzpah to try this sort of stuff on is worthy of book-length treatment.