Childhood in Dublin-as-Eden…and the expulsion from the garden
“Honor Molloy makes a most memorable debut with this fiercely funny portrait of the artist as a young girl. Along with being a smarty girl, Noleen O’Feeney is irreverent, sarcastic, resilient, engaging, entertaining, and wise beyond her years. I didn’t want this book to end. Bravo, Ms. Molloy! Encore!”
—Peter Quinn, Banished Children of Eve and Looking for Jimmy
An autobiographical novel set in 1960s Ireland, this irresistible debut follows the rise and fall of the O’Feeney family, as seen through the eyes of a precocious little girl. More savage than civilized, Noleen is a rare character from a Dublin long forgotten, where Nelson’s Pillar still stands in O’Connell Street?but not for long?and where untamed musicians gather in the O’Feeneys’ kitchen to raise a jar and the roof. Noleen’s father, a successful actor and scoundrel king of the city, does his best to destroy his family, while her mother tries to save it. Noleen schemes to make it through each Dublin day, cadging sweets and growing tough in the midst of chaos. Can a fierce girl’s powerful imagination hold her family together, safe as geese in the sky, in their home on Tolka Row?
Smarty Girl is a wild child’s journey through a world alternately tender and brutal, humorous and heartbreaking, told in language as musical and vibrant as Dublin itself.
“I have seen and heard many perform their written work over the last forty years, but it is easy to say that Honor Molloy, on the page or in person, is one of the very best I have ever experienced.”
—Stanley Crouch, fiction and non-fiction writer, critic, syndicated columnist
Honor Molloy’s mother Yvonne is an American theatre director who sailed to Ireland in 1953 to study in Trinity College. Her father John was a seventh generation Dubliner and a local legend for his work on stage, in films and on television. Dedicated to capturing and preserving the Dublin vernacular, they worked together for fifteen years producing plays, radio, television shows …and six children. The life they led together—and the reasons that life had to end—provides the inspiration for their Smarty Girl.
Honor Molloy has received fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study at Harvard (2002 Fellow) and a Pew Fellowship in the Arts. She has told her stories at the Dublin City Library and Archives, the Issue Project Room, Rocky Sullivan’s of Red Hook, the Public Theatre New Works, among many others.
“As the daughter of one of Dublin’s most well-known and well-loved actors, Honor Molloy introduces us to the mythical era in Dublin’s history where drama and storytelling took precedence over the often harsh reality of life in 1960s Ireland.”
—Kate Kerrigan, Ellis Island
Smarty Girl: Dublin Savage
Paper, 240 pages