In Derrycloney, Tom Phelan brilliantly captures the voices and characters of a small community in the Irish countryside in the 1940s. The rural rituals, the local rivalries, the affections and disaffections–all are caught in richly textured language in what the author calls his "fanfare to the common men and women of my childhood."
At the heart of this wonderfully humorous novel is Derrycloney Lane, where Kate Glanvil tries to keep the peace; Billy Bates listens to the trains on a deserted railway bridge at night and dreams about Miss Hippwell; Lizzie Burns plots to steal her dead brother's farm; Crip Quigley wishes for his long-dead mother to come home; Missus Brady protects the defenseless boy Benny Cosgrove; Crissy the Widda reads an old letter from South Africa by the light of a Sacred Heart lamp; Cha Finley makes a sacrificial offering at his sister's expense; Murt McHugh reveals an ancient obstetrical secret; and young Liam Glanvil visits the swans and writes letters to a nun.
Tom Phelan's evocation of an isolated rural community, with its earthy mingling of disparate voices, recalls at times Dylan Thomas's Under Milk Wood, at times the energy and insight of Patrick McCabe. Derrycloney is a novel by an accomplished writer whose keen powers of observation are tempered with a warm, forgiving humanity and a wonderful sense of humor.
"A great book–readable, powerful, thought-provoking, moving, and often very funny…A moving portrayal of rural Irish life in the 1940s…One of the finest Irish novels I have read in some time."
"This is a comic novel, with a strong plot and a very moving, happy ending."
"Phelan is a master story-teller with keen powers of observation and an innate command of suspense."
"A book filled with incident, with humor, with unforgettable characters, which I can heartily recommend."