Declan O’Rourke in Conversation with Peter Murphy
Enniscorthy, County Wexford, Y21 X889, Ireland
Declan O’Rourke’s award-winning album, Chronicles of the Great Irish Famine, was released to critical acclaim in 2017. It illuminated an extraordinary series of eye-witness accounts, including the story of Pádraig and Cáit ua Buachalla. Four years on, in Declan’s meticulously researched literary debut, the story of the ua Buachalla family is woven into a powerful, multilayered work showing us the famine as it happened through the lens of a single town – Macroom, Co. Cork – and its environs.
Local pawnbroker Cornelius Creed is at the juncture between the classes. Sensitive and empathetic, he is a voice on behalf of the poor, and his story is entwined with that of Pádraig ua Buachalla. Through these characters – utilising local history and documentary evidence – Declan creates a kaleidoscopic view of this defining moment in Ireland’s history.
Declan O’Rourke’s artistry has been described as ‘proffering reassurance in the face of inevitable sorrow’ by Jon Pareles, chief music critic of the New York Times. ‘Galileo’ was described by Paul Weller as the song he most wished he’d written from the past 30 years. Other notable fans of O’Rourke are the Pulitzer-Prize-winning poet Paul Muldoon, Imelda May, Pete Townshend and Eddi Reader, who described Declan as ‘one of the finest songwriters on the planet’.