Declan O’Rourke, interviewed by Deanna O’Connor, talking about his literary debut The Pawnbroker’s Reward
Declan O’Rourke’s award-winning album, Chronicles of the Great Irish Famine, was released to critical acclaim in 2017. It illuminated an extraordinary series of eye-witness accounts, including the story of Pádraig and Cáit ua Buachalla. Four years on, in Declan’s meticulously researched literary debut, The Pawnbroker’s Reward, the story of the ua Buachalla family is woven into a powerful, multilayered work showing us the famine as it happened through the lens of a single town—Macroom, Co. Cork—and its environs.
Local pawnbroker Cornelius Creed is at the juncture between the classes. Sensitive and empathetic, he is a voice on behalf of the poor, and his story is entwined with that of Pádraig ua Buachalla. Through these characters – utilising local history and documentary evidence – Declan creates a kaleidoscopic view of this defining moment in Ireland’s history.
Since the release of his double-platinum selling debut album Since Kyabram in 2004, Declan O’Rourke has been one of Ireland’s favourite musicians. Declan O’Rourke’s artistry has been described as ‘proffering reassurance in the face of inevitable sorrow’ by Jon Pareles, chief music critic of the New York Times. Paul Weller, who produced Declan O’Rourke’s latest album, Arrivals, said the 2004 release Galileo was the song he most wished he’d written from the past 30 years. Other notable fans of O’Rourke are the Pulitzer-Prize-winning poet Paul Muldoon, Imelda May, Pete Townshend and Eddi Reader, who described Declan as ‘one of the finest songwriters on the planet’.
Deanna O’Connor is a founding member of the organising committee of the Dingle Literary Festival. She is an award-winning magazine editor who now freelances for corporate clients, working from the inspiring office space at Dingle Creativity and Innovation Hub. She also writes regularly for the Sunday Business Post. She is the founder of The Speak Up Club, a social enterprise working to empower women as leaders in business and the community.
The Dingle Literary Festival was established in 2019 to create an annual book festival to bring readers and authors together in West Kerry. It’s a literary festival that celebrates living writers as well as honouring the literary heritage of the area. Festival events happen in both Irish and English and range across all genres and age groups. We present both author events and writers’ workshops.
Our vision is of a festival where literature, language and landscape converge to create moments to share stories, to connect minds and allow magic to blossom. It’s a place that sparks discussion, fosters innovation and collaboration in the arts and creates a multigenerational community of readers and writers.
The Dingle Literary Festival is a book festival that elevates and celebrates the richness of Irish language and literature in contemporary life. We encourage a vibrant, relevant literary community to support both established and emerging writers.