Michael McLaverty

Novelist and short story writer

Born in Carrickmacross, Co Monaghan, in 1904, Michael McLaverty spent part of his childhood on Rathlin Island off the north Antrim coast, before moving to Belfast.

McLaverty transformed his experiences of displacement and of the tension between city and country in his early work. Call My Brother Back (1939) describes the uprooting of 15 year old Colm MacNeill from Rathlin to a Belfast in the grip of the Troubles of the early 1920s:

On his way back to the college he wandered the city learning the names of the streets: Oxford Street, Victoria Street, Cromac Street, Durham Street, Townshend Street, Carlisle Circus, and he thought of the island names—Lagavristeevore, Killaney, Crocnacreeva, Carnasheeran, Crocaharna—words full of music….

McLaverty was educated at St Gall’s School off the Springfield Road, St Malachy’s College, and Queen’s University. His professional career as a teacher of maths and physics led to the position of principal of St Thomas’ Boys Secondary School on the Whiterock Road, where Seamus Heaney also taught in 1963. He retired in 1964 to a part-time position at St Joseph’s Teacher Training College, again alongside Heaney.

Between The Three Brothers (1948) and The Brightening Day (1965), McLaverty grew increasingly committed to the theory of the novel as purposefully moral and explicitly Catholic, a position that affected his reputation in Ireland and abroad.

Having largely abandoned the short story by the 1940s, he returned to the form in retirement and published The Road to the Shore in 1976 and Collected Stories in 1978.

Michael McLaverty died in 1992.

Further reading:
The Silken Twine: A Study of the Works of Michael McLaverty (1992) by Sophia Hillen King; Call My Brother Back (1939) by Michael McLaverty.