Vol. 11 (2021)
Sezione monografica / Monographic Section

Art Imitating Life Imitating Death. An exploration of “Guests of the Nation” by Frank O’Connor

Cónal Creedon
University College Cork
Published June 16, 2021
Keywords
  • fiction,
  • Frank O’Connor,
  • history,
  • Irish War of Independence,
  • short story
How to Cite
Creedon, C. (2021). Art Imitating Life Imitating Death. An exploration of “Guests of the Nation” by Frank O’Connor. Studi Irlandesi. A Journal of Irish Studies, 11. https://doi.org/10.13128/SIJIS-2239-3978-12888

Abstract

In 2003, as part of the centenary celebrations for Frank O’Connor’s birth, I was commissioned by the Irish National Broadcaster (RTÉ) to adapt his short story “Guests of the Nation” for radio. My research led me to a number of real-life incidents that echoed O’Connor’s emotionally charged exploration of the tragic consequences when friendships are formed between sworn enemies in a time of war. In the twilight zone where life imitates art, I was invited by descendants of the IRA Unit who had kidnapped and executed Major Compton Smith during the Irish War of Independence, to visit the isolated farmhouse in which he had been held hostage. I welcome you to join me on my journey into a world where history and story go hand in hand, and fact and fiction dovetail together seamlessly without contradiction or contrivance.

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