A Goat’s Song by Dermot Healy

a goat's song

The late Dermot Healy isn’t perhaps as well known a writer as he deserves to be, but he wasn’t very prolific. This is, I think, a great novel. It’s a love story of sorts set around the time of the peace process i.e. the mid nineteen nineties and to some extent it deals also with the relationship between North and South, both culturally and socially. It centres on two characters, Jack Ferris a writer and sometime fisherman from Leitrim and Catherine Adams an actor and daughter of a RUC officer from Enniskillen though their initial acquaintance occurs on the Erris peninsula where her family holiday rather than on stage. Jonathan Adams, Catherine’s father has a crisis resulting from the mounting violence in the North and this leads him to re-examine his views of southern society while Jack following Catherine north to Belfast when she joins a group of actors is introduced to loyalist society at some personal risk. I really liked vividness of the writing especially concerning the relationship between Jack and Catherine. The author has great empathy with his characters who despite their major flaws display their humanity. I liked the non-linear form of the story also as the background of Jack and Catherine’s relationship is revealed from the novels introduction where things are in crisis.

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You can reserve a copy online at South Dublin Libraries’ catalogue here.

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