Mary Sheerin pays tribute to one of Ireland’s most loved authors on the seventh anniversary of her death

A few months ago I attended the opening night of Light a Penny Candle in the Gaiety Theatre. Gordon Snell, the husband, of the late iconic writer kindly invited lots of Maeve’s friends and family to what was a most enjoyable theatrical evening.
The play, based on Maeve’s first book of the same name, was adapted for the stage by Shay Linehan and directed by Peter Sheridan. The theatre was packed to the brim and the play got a standing ovation.

As so often happens with stage adaptations, I preferred the actual book to the play. I felt a lot of Maeve’ wry humour; her attention to the tiny day-to-day detail of people’s lives and her trademark warmth, was somewhat lost. That said, however, it must be remembered that Maeve’s first book was all of 540 pages, so it was a brave and noble attempt to dramatise the complexities and the social history of Maeve’s book.

And isn’t it a wonderful way to keep the memory and work of one of Ireland’s most beloved and popular writers alive?
She may not have been with us physically on the night but her spirit was well and truly there amongst us – not least by her beloved Gordon.

The audience loved it and I knew it would be a great success as we mark the seventh anniversary of her passing on July 30th.

LIGHT A PENNY CANDLE was published in 1982 and as already stated above was Maeve’s first novel. At the time she was London correspondent for the Irish Times and lived in Hammersmith with her husband, Gordon Snell.
She already had three books of short stories under her belt – Central Line; Victoria Line and Dublin 4.

She had also had plays performed at the Peacock Theatre – A Half Promised Land and End of Term. Her television play Deeply Regretted By …had won two Jacob’s Awards and the Best Script Award at the Prague Film Festival.

Continued in this week’s Ireland’s Own