‘The small room was thick with dark blue uniforms. Bull’s wool the men called the material. Silver buttons. Black boots. Caps. Batons holstered in shiny black leather cylinders. Handcuffs hanging from coat hooks, the keys dangling on thick green ribbon. Dusty files on shelves. Shiny whistles on silver chains. Ink. Nibbed pens. Blotting paper. The big map of the district on the wall and beside it a rainfall chart. The men having broken their “at ease” positions, gathered into the middle of the room. His father seemed lost. Like a man with a herd of cattle he could no longer control.’
An insignificant Irish border village at the tail-end of the 1950s. The Sergeant is nervous. His men are lined up for inspection in the day room of the Garda station. Chief Superintendent ‘The Bully’ Barry is on the warpath and any slip-ups will reflect badly on the Sergeant. But what can he do with the men under his command – all of them forcibly transferred from other more important stations in more important towns? Each garda has his own story, his own problems. How can a man be expected to keep the peace with such a bunch of misfits and ne’er-do-wells?
Observing them with fascination, all but invisible in his own quiet corner, sits the Sergeant’s son. On the cusp of manhood, he is drawn in by these rough and ready men, stuck in this place and time, when all he wants is a chance to leave and start his life anew. Life at home in the station’s married quarters is both comfort and knife-edged, ruled over by his by-the-book father and his gentle, emotional mother.
Taking up where his acclaimed A Border Station left off, Married Quarters is a funny, beautifully observed and deeply personal novel. and marks the return of Shane Connaughton, one of Ireland’s most cherished writers.
‘Here is a … writer with immense confidence and vitality. He has an extraordinary feeling for place and landscape.’ – Jennifer Johnston
‘This is experience finely and skilfully distilled’ – Irish Times
‘Well-written and engrossing’ – Sunday Independent
‘These inter-connected stories are faultless in their execution and a delight to read’ – Sunday Press
‘Written with great sympathy and truth’ – Irish Independent
‘Beautifully wrought’ – Daily Telegraph
There is cold comfort to be had when you’re a young boy stuck in the middle of nowhere. The son of the local sergeant in an isolated Garda station on the border between Cavan and Fermanagh, his days are balanced between the brooding, taciturn presence of his father, whom he loves and fears in equal measure, and the reassurance of his quiet, gentle mother. His world is narrowed to bitter country lanes and petty disputes, filled with the characters he encounters – tinkers, publicans, farmers, and the tantalising older sister of his Protestant friend.
Amidst the drumlins and bogs, the boy’s imagination roams free and unfettered. And at night, lulled by the rhythm of his mother’s fleecy warm breathing, the boy finds solace. But now even that is threatened. Change is coming. It’s time to grow up.
Written as a collection of linked stories, Shane Connaughton’s debut novel A Border Station was widely praised on its first publication in 1989. It was shortlisted for the GPA Book Award.
Shane Connaughton is an acclaimed novelist, screenwriter and actor. His screenplay for My Left Foot was shortlisted for an Academy Award; the film won two acting Oscars. His short film, The Dollar Bottom (1980) won an Academy Award for Best Short Film. His published fiction includes A Border Station, which was a bestseller and was shortlisted for the Guinness Peat Aviation Book Award in 1989, and the novel The Run of the Country, for which he also adapted the screenplay. Married Quarters is a sequel to A Border Station.Originally from Cavan, Shane was brought up in a rural Garda Station on the Fermanagh border. He is married with two grown-up children.