seamus dubhghaill

Promoting Irish Culture and History from Little Rock, Arkansas, USA


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Birth of Billy O’Callaghan, Short Fiction Writer & Novelist

Billy O’Callaghan, Irish short fiction writer and novelist, is born in Cork, County Cork, on December 9, 1974. He is best known for his short-story collection The Things We Lose, The Things We Leave Behind, which is awarded the Bord Gáis Energy Irish Book Award for the short story in 2013 and his widely translated novel My Coney Island Baby, which is shortlisted for the Royal Society of Literature‘s Encore Award.

O’Callaghan grows up in the village of Douglas, where he still lives today.

His first collection of short stories, In Exile, is published by Mercier Press in 2008. This is followed a year later by a second collection, In Too Deep, also published by Mercier Press. In 2013, his third collection, The Things We Lose, The Things We Leave Behind, is published by New Island Books. His short stories have been published in literary journals around the world and translated into several other languages. His work has been broadcast on RTÉ Radio 1‘s The Book On One, Sunday Miscellany and the Francis McManus Short Story Award series.

In 2017, the American literary journal Ploughshares publishes O’Callaghan’s story A Death in the Family as a Ploughshares Solo.

O’Callaghan’s first novel, The Dead House, is published in Ireland by Brandon, an imprint of The O’Brien Press, in 2017, and in North America by Arcade Publishing in 2018.

His novel, My Coney Island Baby, is published in 2019, by Jonathan Cape (UK) and Harper (USA), as well as in French by Éditions Grasset as Les amants de Coney Island, translated by Carine Chichereau, Dutch by Ambo Anthos as Mijn lief op Coney Island, translated by Lette Vos, German by btb Verlag as Die Liebenden von Coney Island, translated by Sibylle Schmidt, Czech by Nakladatelství Paseka as Náš Coney Island, translated by Petr Eliáš, Catalan by L’Altra Editorial as Els amants de Coney Island, translated by Ferran Ràfols Gesa, Italian by Guanda Editore as My Coney Island Baby, translated by Ada Arduini, Hungarian by Jelenkor as Szerelmem, Coney Island, translated by Zoltán Pék, and in Turkish by Othello Kitap as Coney Island Bebeğim, translated by Serkan Toy.

A new short story collection, The Boatman and Other Stories, is published in January 2020 by Jonathan Cape (UK) and Harper Perennial (USA).

A new novel, Life Sentences, is published in 2021 by Jonathan Cape (UK) and in Czech by Nakladatelství Paseka as Doživotí, translated by Petr Eliáš, and in 2022 in the United States by David R. Godine.

In November 2013, The Things We Lose, The Things We Leave Behind wins the inaugural Short Story of the Year Award at the 2013 Bord Gáis Energy Irish Book Award. Down by the River is selected in 2014 as Ireland’s representative in the ongoing UNESCO City of Literature project. The Boatman is a finalist for the 2016 Costa Short Story Award. In June 2020, My Coney Island Baby is shortlisted for the Royal Society of Literature’s Encore Award.


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Birth of Aengus Finucane, Roman Catholic Missionary

Aengus Finucane, Roman Catholic missionary of the Spiritan Fathers order, is born on April 26, 1932, in Limerick, County Limerick. He organizes food shipments from Ireland to the Igbo people during the Nigerian Civil War. His younger brother, Jack Finucane, also becomes a Holy Ghost priest, and a sister of theirs becomes a nun.

Finucane is educated by the Congregation of Christian Brothers until 1950. He joins the Holy Ghost Fathers in Kimmage Manor, and studies Philosophy, Theology and Education at University College Dublin. He is ordained in Clonliffe College in 1958.

Finucane contributes humanitarian aid during the Nigerian Civil War (also known as the “Nigerian-Biafran War”), from 1967 to 1970. The Nigerian government had blocked food supplies to the successionist state of Biafra causing starvation in the country. This is reported on international television stations and receives worldwide condemnation.

In an effort to save the population from starvation, Finucane organizes food to be sent through makeshift airstrips, including one at Uli, Bafaria, and cargo trips with other Dublin-based workers. This leads to the formation of the organisation Concern Worldwide in 1968. He works with Concern for 41 years and views his mission as “love in action.”

Finucane is banished from Nigeria in January 1970. Following this, he gains a diploma in development studies and a Master of Arts degree in Third World poverty studies from the Swansea University. In 1971, he is again giving food supplies to the population during the operations which are ongoing in Bangladesh and flies often with Mother Teresa during the drop-offs.

The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) invites Finucane to lead a survey of people displaced in Southeast Asia. During the 1980s and 1990s he leads Concern Worldwide, becoming involved in the response to famine in Ethiopia, Sudan, Somalia and Rwanda. While in Somalia, he is in a convoy that is attacked and results in the death of nurse Valerie Place.

Finucane dies of cancer at the age of 77 on October 6, 2009 in a Dublin Spiritan Fathers’ nursing home in Kimmage Manor. His funeral is held at the Church of the Holy Spirit, Kimmage and is attended by hundreds. The Minister for Foreign Affairs, Micheál Martin, and Minister for Overseas Development, Peter Power, dub him as a “tireless force for good across the globe for more than four decades.” He is buried at Dardistown Cemetery, in the Spiritan plot.

Finucane’s biography, Aengus Finucane: In the Heart of Concern, written by Deirdre Purcell is published by New Island Books in January 2015.