Emer Martin is an original, radical and vital voice in Irish writing who challenges the history of silence, institutional lies, evasion and the mistreatment of women across mid twentieth-century Ireland.
Two families intertwine in this energetic new work, an epic intergenerational saga that began with The Cruelty Men (2018) and continues here as punk rockers and Catholic laundries collide and spiral forward into a post-colonial Ireland still haunted by history. Interweaving scenes from Ireland’s mythological past, the Tudor plantations, the Magdalene laundries and the 1980s, Thirsty Ghosts is epic in scope but intimate in focus.
The Lyons, professionals in a newly independent state, are attacked by paramilitaries in their family home in Tyrone. The displaced eccentric O’Conaills, traumatized by industrial schools and laundries, find themselves in leafy Dublin 4. There’s a servant girl who meets Henry VIII, a Lithuanian Jewish family who become part of the fabric of Dublin, and a wild young girl who escapes the laundry only to stumble into a psycho pimp.
Related with dark humor and high literary style, Thirsty Ghosts is a revelatory exploration of Ireland; its themes of power, class, fertility, violence and deep love are as universal as the old stories that illuminate the characters’ lives.