Five toasts, five people, one lifetime. Maurice Hannigan’s lifetime. An 84-old man with hairy ears and a voice that can melt icebergs, Hannigan pulls up a stool at the bar at the Rainsford House Hotel in County Meath and reflects on his life in rural Ireland, a bittersweet tale of joy, remorse and humour.
In the words of Dublin-born, debut novelist Anne Griffin,
a cantankerous, single-minded, successful and endearing man, a man who, dogged by regrets, his loneliness and his secrets, decides it’s time to put everything right again.
When All Is Said sat with me long after I’d finished it. When the end approaches, I imagine I will have successes and failures, things I did that made me proud and things that didn’t. Who will I be toasting? Looking back, Hannigan wishes he’d kept his promises to the people he loved.
So well does Griffin get character and setting that I felt like I was sitting on a wooden bar stool right next to the meditative Hannigan.
I caught up with Griffin and asked her about her book and writing process.
When did you realize that you wanted to be a writer?
I was 44. I’d worked in bookselling in my twenties and had hung out with some pretty impressive aspiring writers at the time like John Boyne but it never occurred to me to write too. I left Waterstones to work in the charity sector and did so for twenty years. And it was only when I hit a cross roads in that career in 2013 that it was suggested to me to write. And I did just that, starting on the 1stSeptember – the day will forever be etched in my brain. It felt right from the off, like this was the thing I should have been doing all my life. Having said that I wouldn’t have changed my journey to finding it in any way, I believe those years of working at other things helps in what I produce on the page.
I’m in the middle of the next book that will hopefully be coming out in 2020. It’s also set in modern day Ireland but this time it’s a young female voice – Jeanie Longley. I just love her name.
The rest of my Q&A with Griffin is available here, in 26’s monthly newsletter to inspire the love of words and stories.