Michael McLaverty

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Michael McLaverty (5 July 1904 –22 March 1992) was an Irish writer of novels and short stories.[1]


Michael McLaverty was born in Carrickmacross, County Monaghan, to Michael McLaverty (a waiter) and Kathleen Brady. A few years later the family moved to the Beechmount area of Belfast. He went to Gall's School and St Malachy's College and then attended Queen's University Belfast, obtaining BSc 1927 and MSc 1933 for a thesis on "Earlier Work on the Passage of Electricity through Gases".[2]

For a short period McLaverty lived on Rathlin Island, off the County Antrim coast, where he gained much of the inspiration for his short stories. On marrying he moved to Deramore Drive in the Malone area of Belfast. In 1928 he had got a Diploma in Education at St Mary's Teacher Training College in London.[1] He worked as a teacher of maths and physics in Belfast for 35 years, firstly at St. John's Primary School (1929-1957) and then (as headmaster) at the then-new St Thomas Secondary School (1957-1964).

Joe Graham in his book, Belfast Born Bred And Buttered speaks fondly of having been taught by McLaverty both at St John's and St Thomas's schools. During McLaverty's tenure at the latter, poet Seamus Heaney was one of his staff. Heaney recalled McLaverty's enthusiasm for teaching but also for literature, and McLaverty introduced him to the work of Patrick Kavanagh. Sophia Hillan suggests that McLaverty was like a foster father to Heaney.[3]


McLaverty was one of Ireland's distinguished short story writers, painting with spare intensity the northern landscape of his homeland, the hill farms, rough island terrain and the backstreets of Belfast. He focuses on moments of passion, wonder or bitter disenchantment in lives of struggle. His collected works are illustrated with woodcuts by Barbara Childs, and including an introduction by Seamus Heaney and a foreword by Sophia Hillan,[4]

Heaney summarised McLaverty's contribution: "His voice was modestly pitched, he never sought the limelight, yet for all that, his place in our literature is secure." In the introduction to McLaverty's Collected Works, Heaney describes the writing: "His tact and pacing, in the individual sentence and the overall story, are beautiful: in his best work, the elegiac is bodied forth in perfectly pondered images and rhythms".[5] Heaney's poem Fosterage, in the sequence Singing School from North (1975) is dedicated to him.

Collected works[edit]

  • Call My Brother Back (1932)
  • Lost Fields (1941)
  • In This Thy Day (1945)
  • Collected Short Stories (1978)

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b Michael McLaverty: Life Works Criticism Commentary Quotations References Notes ricorso.net
  2. ^ Author: McLaverty, Michael, Title: Earlier work on the passage of electricity through gases. Queen's University Belfast
  3. ^ Sophia Hillan, New Hibernia Review / Iris Éireannach Nua, Vol. 9, No. 3 (Autumn, 2005), pp. 86-106 Wintered into Wisdom: Michael McLaverty, Seamus Heaney, and the Northern Word-Hoard. University of St. Thomas (Center for Irish Studies)
  4. ^ Amazon Review
  5. ^ McLaverty, Michael (2002) Collected short stories Blackstaff Press Ltd pxiii ISBN 0-85640-727-5