Mourning Maeve

Ireland has today been mourning the loss of favourite author Maeve Binchy

She began her writing career as Editor of the Irish Times Women’s Page in the early ’70’s. It was a remarkable part of a great period in the life of the Irish Times. They just didn’t do the stuff which women’s journalism normally concentrated on

She moved on through Short Stories to the books for which she is best remembered – starting with Light a Penny Candle, Circle of Friends and many more.

She is remembered here for her huge personal warmth and love of people. I heard Jilly Cooper describing meeting with her as being like coming into a room with a blazing and welcoming fire.

Two very typical pieces of her writing stay with me. I thought the early short stories were the best of what she did.

I can’t remember whether it was Victoria Line or Circle Line – but she describes a rather mousey young couple who have decided to go to a wife-swapping party at the end of the line at Seven Sisters. As the train passes through each station, they become ever more apprehensive about what it might actually be like …. ‘Let’s just go home’ they say in the end

And somewhere in her journalism, he describes the experience of standing in a garden centre behind a young couple who want to buy a summer house. But they can’t quite afford it … And it begins to become difficult and distressing. You may have heard me say that in Ireland we don’t just listen in to other people’s conversations – it’s all right to join in if you want. Maeve listens in and suffers with them .. until she can bear it no longer, ‘How about a nice flowering cherry?’ she asks