Tramore Library had the first of its book reading sessions last week and it proved most successful for the work ‘Sea of Silence’.
A very large attendance turned out to listen to this successful local author, Peter Cunningham, who spent his early life in Waterford before going onto Dublin.
He has written some excellent books including the ‘Monument’ series, set in a fictional town in the south of Ireland, much like Waterford.
One of his first books in the series was ‘Tapes of the River Delta’, with a local newspaper proving to be one of the major scenes and stories of the book. Rumour has it that the Munster Express could have provided some of the inspiration for this book published in the mid nineties. Others in the series included ‘Consequences of the Heart’ and ‘Love in One Edition’.
In this latest book called the ‘Sea of Silence’, Peter wrote about a coastal town, where there were some Anglo Irish families and the period is just around the second world war.
Annestown is a place he loves and holidays there frequently, he also expressed his affection for Tramore and Waterford city, where he grew up before going to boarding school and later UCD, where he studied business and became an accountant before a writer.
He was asked, after the reading in Tramore, why he does not name Waterford, he claims there would be some confusion over some place names or locations as often happens, so better to avoid such trouble by having a place with a fictional name and allow more artistic licence.
We could understand such sentiments as it is easier to avoid some controversy, after publication.
Peter’s audience on the night ranged from professionals, to retired business persons, politicians, musicians, other authors and environmentalists to avid readers.
Introduced by Mrs. Carberry, Tramore’s librarian, she said it was the first of such evenings and was also attended by county Librarian, Donal Brady.
Peter spoke of his love for Waterford and how he enjoys his summers here from his current base in Kildare.
The Celtic Tiger is now just a memory, but he noted how there were massive changes in Irish society.
He likes writing from a distance and sees himself as an observer. He wrote in this way for Sunday Independent ’till he was replaced by someone more attractive, he joked, and has been writing some pieces for the Irish Times.
Peter in his address to the gathering spoke of how he wrote about Anglo Irish society in Ireland, his father was an architect and worked for many of the gentry in the region.
In this book he writes about two Anglo Irish families, one Protestant the other Catholic, based in County Meath, one was a former trade and successful merchant, who had purchased large landholdings. The other was the type of older gentry that had fallen on hard times,but were still linked with that class. The language is wonderful.
He refers to the period of the forties when Independence had been achieved and they a little left out due to the non Irishness but when they go to England they are termed Irish. Many joined the armed forces for the second world war but they are still Irish so when they come back after the war there is still some confusion and lack of identity. Often they had been educated in England, joined the forces and then returned home to their inheritance – if there was any left. The horsey world features very much as does hunting and other Anglo Irish traditions.
We cannot give the full details of the book away but we really liked the reading and now must get down to reading it soon.
Peter was asked will any of his books be made into a film, he declared that some of the book have film option rights sold on them especially the ‘Monument series’ but it could take time to actually happen.
Roddy Doyle likes his work and had the great ‘Commitments’ success, could this be another great Irish film of the future? Peter admits that sometimes it can take a decade for a film option to be exercised so he must be patient.
A great Waterford author with a wonderful personality, we wish him well in this success.
He puts down some of his craft to the Ballybricken, Waterford upbringing of his father where story telling is an art form. His father did write a little but nothing was published. Peter’s family also had major links with the pig trade and exported to England.
In a story in the Leinster Leader, he says his father’s godfather was John Redmond, so the family had political connections going back to the Irish Parliamentary Party, which was supported strongly by the Ballybricken traders at the time, who had big business through the port to England.
The old Anglo Irish Ireland feature a lot in his writing, where he had a unique insight in the Waterford area, making his writing quite unusual. He has also written some great thrillers like ‘Noble Lord’ about an IRA assassination attempt at the Epson Derby.
Hopefully, his books will get greater attention in the near future and that ‘Monument’ and Waterford will hit the big Hollywood screens in the near future. The city could do with a big lift during the current crisis in the local economy.