After university, Eleanor went straight into teaching.
“I did my teaching practice in Loretto Foxrock. Afterwards they gave me a job, and I was there for two years. Then, in 2001, I moved to Gorey Community School, and I’ve taught there ever since.”
Eleanor had always painted; she exhibited and sold paintings, but after her daughter was born, she couldn’t paint.
“The smell of paint isn’t good for a small baby, and you can’t just go into the studio and work for 10 minutes, so, swapping once creative process for another, I decided to write. You can do that anywhere.”
By 2014, she had been shortlisted for several short story awards and had won the William Trevor International short story award.
“I wanted more of a challenge, so I applied for my MA. It was a three-year course.”
By the time the course was over, Eleanor had won the Francis McManus Award for a story comprised of the first chapter of her debut. She’d been approached by agent Jennifer Hewson, had finished her novel, and had a publishing deal.
Who is Eleanor O’Reilly?
Date of birth:1972 in Arklow
Education: St Mary’s Convent, Arklow. University College Dublin, English and Classical studies, then H Dip. And in 2014, Manchester Metropolitan, MA in writing.
Family: Husband Brian, Ella, 6. “She’s the centre of my world.”
The Day Job: Teacher of English and Classical Studies at Gorey Community School.
In Another Life: “I’d be a painter.”
Favourite Writers: Scott F Fitzgerald; Anne Enright; Eimear McBride; Emilie Pine; Pat McCabe; Claire Keegan.
Second Novel: “I’m halfway through. It’s a story of adoption, and of finding your own sense of self.”
Top Tip: “Show up every day. And claim a space that nobody else can enter or disturb.”
The Debut: m for mammy. Two Roads: €14.99. Kindle: €11.09.
Jenny loves words. She loves writing them, thinking about them, and reading them. So it’s particularly tough for the little girl that her brother Jacob, who has autism, is speechless. His words are locked inside him, and when Ma has a stroke, she can’t speak, even if she could get a handle on the words she wanted to use.
The Verdict: Exuberant A brilliant bubbly new voice.
Published in The Irish Examiner on 30th March
© Sue Leonard. 2019