Dermot Healy

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Dermot Healy
Born9 November 1947
Finnea, County Westmeath, Ireland
Died29 June 2014 (aged 66)
Ballyconnell, Sligo, Ireland
GenresNovels, plays, poetry, short stories
Notable worksA Goat's Song,
Sudden Times,
Long Time, No See

Dermot Healy (9 November 1947 – 29 June 2014) was an Irish novelist, playwright, poet and short story writer. A member of Aosdána, Healy was also part of its governing body, the Toscaireacht. Born in Finea, County Westmeath, he lived in County Sligo, and was described variously as a "master", a "Celtic Hemingway" and as "Ireland's finest living novelist".[1][2][3]

Often overlooked due to his relatively low public profile, Healy's work is admired by his Irish literary predecessors, peers and successors alike, many of whom idolise him—among the writers to have spoken highly of him are Seamus Heaney, Eugene McCabe, Roddy Doyle, Patrick McCabe and Anne Enright.[4][5] He has won several literary awards, and been nominated for both the Booker Prize and the International Dublin Literary Award.


Healy was born in Finea, County Westmeath, the son of a Guard. As a child the family moved to Cavan, where Healy attended the local secondary school. In his late teens he moved to London and worked in a succession of jobs, including barman, security man and as a labourer. He later returned to Ireland, settling in Ballyconnell, County Sligo, a small settlement on the Atlantic coast.[4] He died at his home on 29 June 2014, while awaiting an ambulance after suddenly being taken ill.[6] He was laid to rest at Carrigans Cemetery following funeral mass by Fr. Michael Donnelly at St Patrick's Church in Maugherow.[7][8]


Healy's work is influenced by an eclectic range of writers from around the world, including Anna Akhmatova, John Arden, Isaac Babel, Bashō, Samuel Beckett, Jorge Luis Borges, Angela Carter, J. M. Coetzee, Emily Dickinson, Maria Edgeworth, T. S. Eliot, Hermann Hesse, Nâzım Hikmet, Aidan Higgins, Miroslav Holub, Eugène Ionesco, Franz Kafka, Mary Lavin, Federico García Lorca, Guy de Maupassant, Edgar Allan Poe, Sylvia Plath, Ezra Pound, William Shakespeare and Robert Louis Stevenson.[4][9] Healy wrote in a shed (though, on being a writer, was quoted as saying: "I know writing is what I do but I still don't see myself as one") and was fascinated by etymology.[10]


Healy was longlisted for the Booker Prize with his novel A Goats Song. Healy won the Hennessy Award (1974 and 1976), the Tom Gallon Award (1983), and the Encore Award (1995). In 2011, he was shortlisted for the Poetry Now Award for his 2010 poetry collection, A Fool's Errand. Long Time, No See was nominated for the International Dublin Literary Award, the world's most valuable literary award for a single work in the English language, by libraries in Russia and Norway.[11]

List of works[edit]



  • The Bend for Home (Harvill, 1996)


  • Here and There and Going to America (1985)
  • The Long Swim (1988)
  • Curtains (1990)
  • On Broken Wings (1992)
  • Last Night's Fun (1994)
  • Boxes (1998)
  • Mister Staines (1999)
  • Metagama (2005)
  • A Night at the Disco (2006)
  • The Collected Plays (Dalkey Archive Press, 2016)


  • Neighbours' Lights (1992)
  • The Ballyconnel Colours (1995)
  • What the Hammer (1998)
  • The Reed Bed (2001)
  • A Fool's Errand (The Gallery Press, 2010)



  1. ^ Moynihan, Ciara (2 October 2012). "Dermot Healy to share literary insights". Mayo News. Archived from the original on 13 November 2012. Retrieved 2 October 2012.
  2. ^ O'Mahony, John (3 June 2000). "Let the west of the world go by". The Guardian.
  3. ^ "Long Time, No See". Penguin US. Archived from the original on 29 December 2012. Retrieved 3 May 2013.
  4. ^ a b c O'Hagan, Sean (3 April 2011). "Dermot Healy: 'I try to stay out of it and let the reader take over'". The Observer. Retrieved 3 April 2011.
  5. ^ Jarman, Mark Anthony (8 July 2011). "A brilliant return for Dermot Healy". The Globe and Mail. Retrieved 8 July 2011.
  6. ^ McGarry, Patsy (1 July 2014). "Sudden death of writer Dermot Healy inspires many tributes". The Irish Times. Retrieved 1 July 2014.
  7. ^ McDonagh, Marese (4 July 2014). "Dermot Healy laid to rest in Sligo amid music, dance and poetry". The Irish Times. Retrieved 4 July 2014.
  8. ^ Harkin, Greg (4 July 2014). "Literary greats join President in paying respects to author". Irish Independent. Retrieved 4 July 2014.
  9. ^ "A conversation with Dermot Healy". Penguin US. Archived from the original on 9 July 2012.
  10. ^ Metcalfe, Anna (30 April 2011). "Small talk: Dermot Healy". Financial Times. Archived from the original on 11 December 2022. Retrieved 30 April 2011.
  11. ^ "Nominations for the International IMPAC Literary Award". International IMPAC DUBLIN Literary Award. Archived from the original on 16 January 2013.
  12. ^ Banished misfortune, and other stories. OCLC 8979281. Retrieved 29 July 2022 – via WorldCat.

External links[edit]