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Death of Julia O’Faolain

Irish writer Julia O’Faolain has died in London, aged 88. President Higgins said of her: “The news of the death of Julia O’Faolain will have been received with sadness by her many readers who appreciated the excellence she brought to her writing. Julia O’Faolain leaves behind not only a legacy of outstanding writing. She is rightly celebrated as a writer who explored and shone a light on the role of women in society and who did so with a radical realism.”

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From a celebrated Irish literary family, Julia O’Faolain’s insightful and eloquent memoir, Trespassers (2013), recounted her life growing up as the daughter of Seán O’Faoláin and Eileen Gould. It is seen by many as one of the greatest memoirs by any Irish writer. She was born in London in 1932 where her father was teaching at Strawberry Hill College, but the family moved back to Ireland the following year. Julia was educated at UCD, the University of Rome, and the Sorbonne, and, over the years, worked as a writer, language teacher, editor and translator, while living in France, Italy, the United States and Britain.

Her novels are No Country for Young Men, shortlisted for the 1980 Booker Prize, Women in the Wall (1975), The Obedient Wife (1982) and The Judas Cloth (1992). She also published short-story collections: Man in the Cellar (1974), Melancholy Baby (1978), and Daughters of Passion (1982).

She is survived by her husband, the American historian Lauro Martines who is a world authority on the Italian Renaissance, and the couple’s son Lucien. Prof Martines deposited her papers in the UCD Archives in 2018, where they are  being catalogued. Principal archivist, Kate Manning, said that the papers include a significant correspondence between O’Faolain and her father.

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