Breandán Ó hEithir

Breandán Ó hEithir was born on the 18 January in Salthill in Galway. He was brought up in Inis Mór on the Aran Islands where his parents, Delia (Bríd) Ní Fhlatharta and Pádraig Ó hEithir, were working as primary school teachers. His mother was a sister of the famous writer Liam Ó Flatharta.

Breandán attended Cill Rónáin national school and received his secondary education in Coláiste Éinde in Galway. He attended University College Galway for three years but left without finishing his BA degree.

He worked as a travelling bookseller with Comhdháil Náisiúnta na Gaeilge between 1952 and 1954. He subsequently spent two years working as an editor with the Irish language publishers Sáirséal agus Dill.

Breandán began writing a column for the Irish language monthly Comhar in 1956 and was appointed editor of the magazine in the Sixties. He also worked as Irish language editor with the Irish Press. He was appointed to RTÉ’s weekly current affairs programme Féach in 1967. This programme attracted up to 600,000 viewers at its peak. Breandán was given a contract by RTÉ in 1968.

Breandán married Catherine Von Hildebrand in 1957. Although she was born in Paris, Catherine’s mother was from Sligo and her father was German. They had five children: four sons and a daughter.

Breandán wrote in both Irish and English. His first novel, Lig Sinn i gCathú, published in 1976, was highly praised by critics and became a bestseller. The novel is set in the university town of Baile an Chaisil, a thinly disguised Galway City, in 1949, the year Ireland declared itself a republic and withdrew from the Commonwealth. The novel received Oireachtas prizes for the quality of the writing.

Another of Breandán’s books, Over the Bar (1984), which focuses on the GAA, also became a bestseller. His second novel, Sionnach ar mo Dhuán, was published in 1988. His other works include bhí A Begrudger’s Guide to Irish Politics (1985), An Nollaig Thiar (1989), A Pocket History of Ireland (1989) and An Chaint sa tSráidbhaile (1991).

In April 1983, Breandán left RTÉ to become a full-time writer.

He spent various periods in Paris during the Eighties and it was there that he became ill in the autumn of 1990. He returned to Dublin and was admitted to Saint Vincent’s Hospital, where he died of cancer on the 26 October 1990.

Based on an article in Vicipéid


More from Breandán Ó hEithir