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Unmasking Patrick Kavanagh



A Novel by Paddy Carroll


   Price:    €25.00    (Hardback)


ISBN: 978-1-909154-64-3







Unmask the life of one of Ireland’s greatest poets

with this captivating novel by Paddy Carroll.


An imaginative blend of fact and fiction telling the absorbing story of the life and times of Ireland’s greatest poet of the twentieth century. Offering a compact, engrossing, intelligent and witty account sourced from extensive memoirs and quotations from the poet’s work, so unearthing the man behind the mask.


We see him rise, amid memorable characters, from obscurity to fame, infamy and finally be recognized and respected at home and feted in America. All this despite his curmudgeonly nature that pushed away friends and made him enemies. He fulfilled the stereotype of the drunken man of letters, rude in public, misbehaving on formal occasions. Yet his was “the poetry of passionate memory”. The tough realism in his work that intimately touches the heart of his readers was achieved in the teeth of an uncaring society. Like many geniuses, Kavanagh gave joy to the many and hell to a few closer to home. 


But was there more to him than this?


Enter Agnes McMahon, a country girl who opened up a world of tenderness to him and was the great love of his life. Cruel circumstances part them and Agnes must forge her own future in the land of opportunity while Kavanagh wears the scars of this lost love for the rest of his life, his borrikeen his patch on the soul.





About the Author:


Paddy Carroll is a lawyer, educated at University College Dublin. Married with three children,

he was born, raised and lives in Dundalk, part of the hinterland of “Kavanagh Country”.






















Extract from Paddy Carroll’s address at the launch of his novel ‘BORRIKEEN – Unmasking Patrick Kavanagh’ at The Annual Patrick Kavanagh Weekend in Inniskeen

on 27th September last



“Last year I did a reading from the manuscript. This year we have the book to sell. 


Writing is difficult. Writing about another life is very difficult, the weight of another man’s life. Why write a novel about Patrick Kavanagh? Well, when reading and researching for this book, I was struck by the divergence of opinion about the great man.


Some people could, at the drop of a hat, recite line after line of his poetry, or quote reams from his prose, or relate humorous anecdotes about his highly opinionated journalism, his controversial sociability.


Others were forthright in declaring him a drunkard, lacking in the social graces, obsessed by paranoiac delusions of persecution, critical of his cantankerous and curmudgeonly character. Some even suggested they doubted Kavanagh had had a sexual relationship in his life at all.


Such dichotomous opinions needed to be explored, and hopefully explained in the writing. Did I achieve that objective? I believe I have.


Those who hold positive views about Kavanagh, or at least like his writings, will discover how he came to compose certain poems, write prose, how he fulfilled his role as a journalist. They will unearth a new side to him.


Those who read him but don’t like his writings, and those who don’t read him at all, may discern a new man in him, may empathize with the harshness, the poverty in his life, the loneliness he endured as a writer. They may well be surprised by his pursuit of red-blooded romance in which his behaviour was brazenly genital.


All readers of this book will, I hope, have a greater awareness of the times he lived in,  have a greater understanding of his life and how he lived it, and have a sanguine perception of his sex life.  


More importantly, let us rescue Kavanagh’s reputation from the academics. His reputation is ever more soaring into the misty clouds of academia. Let’s grab him by the ankles and ground him before it’s too late. Look what they did to James Joyce. Kavanagh is one of us although many, while he was alive, distanced themselves from that association. Let’s keep him with us, among us. Let’s read him for himself.


My book is not a biography. It is a work of faction. I believe this novel, which took four and a half years in the writing, reflects realism about Kavanagh’s human emotions, motives, and secrecies, and so may hold up a mirror to ourselves.”




Borrikeen is published by Choice Publishing and is available now in Bookshops:

and on from 26th September 2014.






































Trade enquiries to:  Choice Publishing




For further information please contact Paddy Carroll on  +353 (0)42 933 9521

or email at





Pictured at the Book Launch,

the author Paddy Carroll with President Michael D. Higgins