Michael Farrell, medical student, journalist, radio
broadcaster and novelist, was born on Tullow Street,
(87 Tullow Street, now
Dempsey's Hardware)...... Carlow in September
1899. His parents James and Mary owned a hardware store
there until 1924 when they relocated to Dublin.
educated at Knockbeg College of which he had fond memories
and later Blackrock College for which his
experiences were not so happy. He then commenced a degree
in Medicine at University College Dublin but this was cut
short due firstly to imprisonment in Mountjoy Jail for six
months during the War of Independence and then a walking
tour of Europe accompanied by a fellow medical student.
After a spell working as Marine Customs Superintendent in
the Congo, Farrell returned a little wealthier to his
studies at Trinity College Dublin. However, Farrell's
enthusiasm for medicine soon diminished and after a short
time teaching he immersed himself in journalism.
Writing was Farrell's true calling and he spent the
rest of his life occupied with his one novel "Thy Tears
Might Cease"; which was published posthumously in 1963. In
1930 he married Frances Cahill, an established
businesswoman, and they settled in Killmacanogue. Farrell
spent his time writing and Frances ran her hand weaving
business, the Crock of Gold in Dublin. He worked for
several years for Radio Éireann writing and producing a
program called "Radio Digest". However, he is often best
remembered for his writings under the pseudonym of
"Gulliver" for Sean O'Faolain's Bell publication who was
also a close friend and neighbour. However, after a number
of years Farrell departed from journalism and moved into
the management of his wife's business in Dublin. He died
on June 24th 1962.
Farrell never got to see the publication of his
acclaimed novel but this was due mainly to his reluctance
to part with it. In 1937 under Sean O'Faolain's initiative
the novel was accepted by a publisher in London. However,
Farrell spent the next fifteen years in a failed attempt
to edit the lengthy book sufficiently and sadly died
before he saw his name on the cover.
The book was
finally edited and submitted by his good friend Monk
Gibbon who reduced it by 100,000 words. It was
finally published in 1963 and became a bestseller,
translated into many languages.
The hero of the book is Martin Mathew O'Reilly whose
childhood and subsequent years are heavily influenced by
the events of Irish history at the turn of the 20th
century. A Catholic boy with strong Protestant links he
experiences both sides of the troubles before the catalyst
of the 1916 Rising sees him become a strong protagonist in
Ireland's fight for freedom. The novel is noted for its
depiction of the social and political changes, which
affected Ireland at this time, and the birth of a new
nation after World War I.
Gibbon's foreword to Thy Tears Might Cease.
Dictionary of Irish Literature by Robert Hogan. Page
3. Michael Farrell, Carlowman (1899-1962) by
Martin Lynch for Carloviana '00 Edition.