Eileen Battersby

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Eileen Battersby is the chief literary critic of The Irish Times. She has sometimes divided opinion, having been described by John Banville as "the finest fiction critic we have", while attracting the ire of Eugene McCabe after she famously gave Dermot Healy an unfavourable review in 2011. Her first novel, Teethmarks on My Tongue, is being published by Dalkey Archive Press in 2016.[1][2]


Battersby was born in California.[3] She graduated with honours in English and History from University College Dublin, and went on to receive an honours MA on American writer Thomas Wolfe.[3] She began reviewing books and sports writing which led her into a career in journalism as a staff arts writer with The Irish Times, eventually becoming the chief Literary Correspondent.[3] She has written on archaeology, history, architecture, geography and horses and has championed fiction in translation.[3]

Battersby published a memoir, Ordinary Dogs: A Story of Two Lives (2011), about her two rescue dogs.[4][5] Her collection Second Readings (2010) features 52 of her reviews.[6] She has discussed Kafka on RTÉ Radio 1.[7]

Battersby has won the National Arts Journalist of the Year award four times.[3]She also won National Critic of the Year in 2012.

In 2011, controversy ensued when Battersby found Dermot Healy's novel Long Time, No See wanting. Her unfavourable review prompted an angry letter of protest from Eugene McCabe who castigated her for disemboweling "one of the great masters of Irish writing."[2][8]

Eileen Battersby has been reviewing fiction since 1984, the year J.G Ballard was expected to win the then Booker Prize with Empire of the Sun - but didn't.

Relationship with animals[edit]

The relationship that Battersby has with animals is prominent in her writing. A quirky characteristic that has been noticed and enjoyed by many. In Ordinary Dogs, Battersby celebrates Bilbo and Frodo (her two mongrel dogs) with rare passion and insight. Battersby has shown that, for certain people, there is more integrity in the unconditional relationship with animals than in much of what human society can offer. "But what I like most is the author's pluck/ Other than with her daughter, her most conspicuously successful relationships have been with two mongrel dogs- and, like [J.R] Ackerley, she's not afraid to admit it" [9]


See also[edit]


  1. ^ Sweetman, Rosita (17 December 2011). "Review: Memoir: Ordinary Dogs by Eileen Battersby". Irish Independent. Retrieved 17 December 2011. 
  2. ^ a b McCabe, Eugene (29 March 2011). "Another take on 'Long Time, No See'". The Irish Times. Irish Times Trust. Retrieved 29 March 2011. 
  3. ^ a b c d e "Eileen Battersby" (PDF). patrickkavanaghcountry.com. Retrieved June 25, 2012. 
  4. ^ "A love story with a fist at its centre". The Irish Times. 3 December 2011. Retrieved 3 December 2011. 
  5. ^ "Wednesday 2nd November". The John Murray Show. 2 November 2011. Retrieved 2 November 2011. 
  6. ^ "Regarding unnecessary second readings". The University Times. 
  7. ^ "European Voices - Franz Kafka". RTÉ Radio 1. Archived from the original on 2012-11-06. 
  8. ^ Jarman, Mark Anthony (8 July 2011). "A brilliant return for Dermot Healy". The Globe and Mail. Retrieved 8 July 2011. 
  9. ^ gébler, Carlo (5/11/2011). "A dog's life".  Check date values in: |date= (help)