Book Launch: Idir Mhná by John McGahern (Trans. Irene Duffy Lynch)

Book Launch: Idir Mhná by John McGahern (Trans. Irene Duffy Lynch)


Wednesday 17 June

Doors open 6.30pm. Reading from 7pm.

Professor Declan Kiberd, Keogh Professor of Irish Studies at Notre Dame University will launch Idir Mhná, the translation into Irish by Irene Duffy Lynch of Amongst Women by John McGahern.

Despite the fact that McGahern’s work has been translated into more than 20 world languages including Japanese, this is the first major work of his which has been translated into Irish. It comes with considerable praise.

Professor Declan Kiberd: ‘Irene has captured the rhythms and cadences of McGahern’s prose along with its amazing gontacht – and, as in the original, the dialogue works in telling counterpoint. Her Irish is lucid, unfussy and apt – it remains true to the chiselled austere beauty of McGahern’s prose and like McGahern’s, her style does not draw attention to itself but to the object. I felt that it was being converted ‘back’ into Irish, from which in some strange way it may have come – across the years and across the chasm between two kinds of Irish language.’

Séamus Mac Gabhainn, Lecturer in English at NUI, Maynooth and editor of Ríocht na Midhe 1994–2014: Irene’s admirable translation conveys with unerring accuracy McGahern’s forensic presentation of the ageing patriarch Moran. The flexibility and lucidity of the Irish captures acutely the psychological straitjacket of the former gunman, minutely observed as a formidable domestic presence, in the rural world of farm and village. The translator’s judicious prose functions as a translucent pane, mediating this absorbing exploration of family, gender, politics and culture in 20th century Ireland.

Irene Duffy Lynch was born in Claremorris, County Mayo, educated in Coláiste Muire, Tuar Mhic Éadaigh, Carysfort Teacher Training College, University College Dublin and Trinity College, Washington DC. She taught for a number of years and did a great deal of work in the media: as a television announcer, presenter and reporter in Ireland (RTE) in Belgium, in Washington DC and in Nigeria. She is the author of two books: Treasures of our Elders – Words of Wisdom and Beyond Faith and Adventure – Irish Missionaries in Nigeria tell their extraordinary story. She is married to former diplomat/ambassador Joseph Lynch and lives in Dublin.

While visiting the home of John and Madeline McGahern with her husband Joseph Lynch shortly before John’s untimely death in 2006, McGahern gave Irene a gift of the French translation of Amongst Women – Entre toutes les femmes. ‘He knew that I loved the novel and remembered that I was bold enough to read an extract from it in his presence at a dinner party given in his honour in Washington DC in the early 1990’s. He admitted to not reading French very well but said that he was told that it was a very good translation. It was following my reading of it and my knowledge that none of the immense power of the novel was lost that I decided to experiment with an Irish translation. After all, was not a great deal of McGahern’s work not already translated into more than twenty languages? I would like now to think that John McGahern would be satisfied with my effort were he still living.’

Idir Mhná will also be presented in John McGahern’s beloved Leitrim at the Ballinamore County Library on 4 June, 8pm.