The author, journalist and television producer is remembered by Sheila O’Kelly


Nuala Brigid Anne O’Faolain was born in Clontarf, Dublin on the 1st March, 1940 to Thomas and Catherine O’Faolain (Phelan). Nuala’s childhood was chaotic; her father, a well-known writer and journalist, wrote the Dubliners Diary column under the pen name Terry O’Sullivan for the Evening Press newspaper.

The column ran for twenty years and related the social, cultural and political life in the city. Thomas, an alcoholic, had extramarital affairs and regularly left Catherine and their nine children without money. Catherine, feeling lonely neglected and abandoned, turned to alcohol.

The family lived in various rented homes. As a result, Nuala was educated at several national schools in North Dublin including Malahide, Balbriggan and Baldoyle. She attended Saint Louis Convent boarding school in Monaghan and afterwards, enrolled in the English department in University College, Dublin, but dropped out.

Nuala went to Britain and completed an undergraduate degree in medieval English at Hull University and a postgraduate degree in 19th century literature at Oxford University, both on scholarships. She returned to the University College Dublin English Department in 1962 as an academic.

Throughout the 1960s, Nuala was involved in the Dublin Literary scene and her friends included novelist, Mary Lavin, Patrick Kavanagh, John McGahern, Myles na Gopaleen (Brian Nolan) and Louis McNiece. From 1970-1976, Nuala worked at the BBC in London as a television producer on the Open University programme.

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