Son of a farmer, Ger wasn’t a reader because on a farm there was always something to be done.
“I came to literature as a teenager through the lyrics of Bob Dylan and Tom Waites.”
After ‘escaping’ to college, where he discovered poetry, Ger worked as an engineer for Kildare county council. After two years, he married and returned to Westport. Since then Ger has worked for the council in various different jobs.
Dermot Healey, the one-time writer in residence, encouraged Ger to take writing seriously. But it was gaining acknowledgment with a bursary to The Tyrone Guthrie Centre that changed his life. He published his first poetry collection in 1998, and has since published two more – winning, and being shortlisted for many prestigious prizes.
“I wrote the stories because I needed a home for all the dialogue which was going round my head. I wanted to present the characters who are now being swept away; people from a different world.”
Who is Ger Reidy
Date of birth: 1958, in Westport
Education: Christian Brothers School in Westport. National University of Ireland, Galway; Engineering.
Home: Small farm outside Westport.
Family: Children Eleanor, Thomas and Deirdre, grandson, Marcin.
The Day Job: An Engineer with the County Council. Farming.
In Another Life: “I’d be a meteorologist. I’m fascinated by climate and weather.”
Favourite Writers: Philip Larkin: Louis MacNeice; Patrick Kavanagh; Seamus Heaney; John Montague. “And I admire Kevin Barry, Colin Barrett, and Mike McCormack.”
Next Book: “There’s more poetry bubbling away.”
Top Tip: “Have a notebook with you at all times, and be aware of the stuff you are given. Read a lot, but keep stimulated by art, music and movies too. The disciplines inspire and influence each other all the time.”
The Debut: Jobs For a Wet Day: Arlen House: €21.52.
Middle-aged Red, increasingly discontented in marriage, goes to the pub each night to see the daughter who remains a secret. Gaughan, battling bad weather, spends his days fruitlessly ringing the council, to enquire about his headage cheque.
Set mainly in the fields, pubs and lonely farmhouses of Mayo, these stories describe characters who live on the edge of society.
The Verdict: A wonderful depiction of rural existence; its drudgery, sadness’s, and thankless routine.
Published in The Irish Examiner on 25th March
© Sue Leonard. 2017.