Guest post: novel settings by Peter Murphy

I’m delighted to bring you tonight’s guest blog post, on the topic of the inspiration for his debut novel, by Peter Murphy.

One afternoon in Grogan’s

My novel Lagan Love is based in Dublin and a number of scenes were set in Grogan’s of South William Street which was a favourite haunt of mine. The seeds of the book were sown there and some of the characters, and the times we had found, their way into the story. This was a typical afternoon:

By midday we would set out across the Green, though the trendy shopping crowd on Grafton Street, not far from the Dandelion Market and into the comforting corner of Grogan’s before last call.

Of all the absurdities that were drinking in Dublin there was one without parallel – the Holy Hour! I once tried to explain it to G. who stared at me in disbelieve and asked, ‘Can we not go to a Protestant Pub?’

But I had to forgive her: it made little sense to me. Jimmy Neil had explained that it began in Britain during the Great War: ‘to git the workers awaefrae the pubs and back tae the munitions factories.’ In Dublin, a two-hour closing was unthinkable so we settled for an hour and – as it was a period of abstinence – it was deemed holy.

I still marvel at the effect it had on the bar staff. At 2:20 they would announce ‘Last Call!’ and we would all order two drinks each. By law, we had ten minutes drinking up time but we never believed that this was meant to be taken literally.

From 2:30 until 2:40 we enjoyed our drinks in the calm before the storm and chatted quietly amongst ourselves or with the bar staff. But, on the unspoken command it would start: “C’mon lads and finish your drinks.” We, of course ignored them and carried on in deep conversation until they became irate and stood over us as we gulped down the remainder of our stout.

I remember one such afternoon when we had sat, like the twelve apostles with Billy Cullen among us. Billy was a failed priest, I think, the details are cloudy. He might have come from a Jesuit Seminary and was madder than the rest of us. Billy was a poet and a philosopher and wandered freely between genius and insanity. We were discussing the art of feeding the ducks in the pond in Stephen’s Green, right across the street from the Dandelion Market. As Billy watched us grapple with his logic he turned to poetry as we had literary pretensions. “Feeding the ducks is an art I declare to see that each duck gets no more than its share . . .” Then Billy announced that on the previous Saturday morning that he had decided to end it all.

“C’mon gentlemen please, finish up your drinks!” The bar staff pleaded with growing urgency.

Billy was tired of the mediocrity of the world and its inability to comprehend his genius.

“Time now gentlemen please!” The bar staff interrupted.

But Billy could not leave the stage without one more flourish so he bought a bottle of sherry and went back to his rented room in the house of a nice couple that may have been distant relatives.

“Joe, Jimmy, Shuggie, would you finish your drinks, Please!”

Billy drank his sherry and selected Flamenco music for his grand finale.

“Time now! Gentlemen! Please!’

As the music and the dance neared its climax Billy prepared himself for his moment with destiny. But he was interrupted. ’Billy, what are you doing in there? There’s plaster falling off the ceiling downstairs and it’s after ruining the carpet.’

So Billy turned away from the white light and was given to menial labour, sweeping and dusting, and by the time he had finished his moment with destiny had passed.

It was 3:05 when we were all ushered outside and we stood in the doorway searching South William Street for what we might do with the rest of our lives. No clues were to be found that day so Billy started to explain the true message of Adam and Eve but he never got to finish. At 3:30 the doors were reopened and we were all welcomed back into the Garden of Eden.

Check it out: or just drop in.

Peter Murphy was born in Killarney where he spent his first three years before his family was deported to Dublin, the Strumpet City. Growing up in the verdant braes of Templeogue, Peter was schooled by the De La Salle brothers in Churchtown where he played rugby for ‘The Wine and Gold’. He also played football (soccer) in secret!

After that, he graduated and studied the Humanities in Grogan’s under the guidance of Scot’s corner and the bar staff; Paddy, Tommy and Sean.

Murphy, financing his education by working summers on the buildings sites of London in such places as Cricklewood, Camden Town and Kilburn, also tramped the roads of Europe playing music and living without a care in the world. But his move to Canada changed all of that. He only came over for a while – thirty years ago.

He took a day job and played music in the bars at night until the demands of family life intervened.

Having raised his children and packed them off to University, Murphy answered the long ignored internal voice and began to write.

He has no plans to make plans for the future and is happy to let things unfold as they do anyway.

Lagan Love is his first novel. You can visit his website or blog. Connect with him at Twitter and Facebook. You can also read his author spotlight.

About Lagan Love: If you know something about passion, and desire, and giving everything to live your dreams then leave your world behind for a while. Come with Janice to Dublin, in the mid nineteen-eighties when a better future beckoned and the past was restless, whispering in the shadows for the Old Ways. Janice has grown tired of her sheltered existence in Toronto and when Aidan leads her through the veils of the Celtic Twilight, she doesn’t hesitate. In their love, Aidan, Dublin’s rising poet, sees a chance for redemption and Janice sees a chance for recognition. Sinead tells her that it is all nonsense as she keeps her head down and her eyes fixed on her own prize – a place in Ireland’s prospering future. She used to go out with Aidan, before he met Janice, so there is little she can say. And besides, she has enough to do as her parents are torn apart by the rumours of church scandals. But after a few nights in Grogan’s, where Dublin’s bohemians gather, or a day in Clonmacnoise among the ruins of Celtic Crosses, it won’t matter as the ghosts of Aidan’s mythologies take form and prey on the friends until everything is at risk. Lagan Love is a sensuous story of Love, Lust and Loss that will bring into question the cost we pay for our dreams.

Thank you Peter. 🙂

If you would like to write a writing-related guest post for my blog then feel free to email me with an outline of what you would like to write about. If it’s writing-related then it’s highly likely I’d email back and say “yes please” (while quietly bouncing up and down in my seat with joy!).

The blog interviews return as normal tomorrow morning with horror writer Richard Barber – the one hundred and ninety-first of my blog interviews with novelists, poets, short story authors, bloggers, autobiographers and more. A list of interviewees (blogged and scheduled) can be found here. If you like what you read, please do go and investigate further. And I enjoy hearing from readers of my blog; do either leave a comment on the relevant interview (the interviewees love to hear from you too!) and / or email me.

3 thoughts on “Guest post: novel settings by Peter Murphy

  1. JoAnn Ross says:

    Oh, I so felt as if I was back there. In Ireland, in the 1980s before the roaring Celtic Tiger changed so much. I LOVE Irish books — both reading and writing them — so thank you for introducing me to this wonderful sounding debut novel!


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