Eamon Maher: "'The Church and its Spire’: John McGahern’s Relationship with the Catholic Faith"


Location: Room 1050 Jenkins Nanovic Hall

With a longstanding interest in the Irish writer John McGahern (1934-2006), Dr. Eamon Maher will give a talk at Notre Dame on McGahern's somewhat fraught relationship with the Catholic Church. Brought up in a strict Catholic home, McGahern was always troubled by the promise he made to his mother, who died from cancer when he was only 10 years of age, that he would become a priest. As his alienation from the authoritarian form of Irish Catholicism he experienced during the 1940s and '50s increased, McGahern would in time adopt what could be referred to as a "priesthood of the pen," with his writing becoming the Mass he never got to say for his mother.

As part of his talk, Dr. Maher will show a short film by Paul Butler that amplifies many of the points of his talk, while also giving participants a feel for the northwest midlands of Ireland, which is the venue for most of McGahern’s writing.

Paul Butler Aughawillan Church High Res
St Patrick's Church in Aughawillan, Co Leitrim, burial place of John McGahern (Photo by Paul Butler)

 Eamon Maher is Director of the National Centre for Franco-Irish Studies in TU Dublin – Tallaght Campus and general editor of two critically acclaimed book series with Peter Lang. His most recent book (with Eugene O’Brien) is Reimagining Irish Studies for the Twenty-First Century (2021), which is the 100th volume in the Reimagining Ireland series. He is regarded as one of the foremost authorities on the work of John McGahern and the French priest-writer Jean Sulivan. He has to date written four monographs and edited/co-edited 26 essay collections. He is a regular contributor to The Irish Times and is currently working on a study of the Catholic Novel.

This event is in-person and livestreamed.

Register here for the livestream.