I am sorry to hear today of the death at the age of 72 of writer Maeve Binchy. I often met her in the 80’s upstairs in Frank Lavery’s The Fleet Bar in Dublin opposite the back door to the Irish Times where she worked. Whilst a staff writer on The Irish Times her career as a writer was taking off after her first novel in 1982, Light a Penny Candle.
Maeve was totally without pretension or airs and graces and was always the centre of the company in The Fleet. She never lost her journalistic craft whether it was observing people in a launderette or a Central Line train. She split her time between London when she married the children’s author Gordon Snell and a little kingdom south of Dublin called Dalkey.
She went onto have worldwide success with Circle of Friends which was made into an excellent movie starring Minnie Driver and much of it shot in one of Ireland’s undiscovered gems the area of South Kilkenny along the Nore River around Thomastown and Inistioge.
A journalist, short story writer and best-selling novelist, Maeve was born in Dalkey in Co Dublin and studied at UCD. She initially worked as a teacher before becoming a journalist, columnist and later women’s editor at the Irish Times. She then moved to London where she continued to work for the paper. Her early short story collections were based in London and Dublin and featured sharp, funny and often poignant observations of residents of those cities.
Her finally observed domestic literature sold well and Minding Frankie achieved critical acclaim. In her books as in life she wore her heart on her sleeve. Sometimes unfairly reviewed her books were always well crafted and her characters finely observed, she was the Godmother of Chick-Lit and generous with her time in helping others. She sold more than 40 million books worldwide.
She was a larger than life character in every way who relished people and the hustle and bustle of existence. The world will be less colourful and slightly less jolly without her.