This month our book is Are You Somebody? by Nuala O’Faolain
O’Faolain was born in Dublin, the second eldest of nine children. Her father was a well-known Irish journalist, writing the “Dubliners Diary” social column under the pen name Terry O’Sullivan for the Dublin Evening Press. She was educated at University College Dublin, the University of Hull, and Oxford University.She taught for a time at Morley College, and worked as a television producer for the BBC and Radio Telefís Éireann.
O’Faolain described her early life as growing up in a Catholic country which in her view feared sexuality and forbade her even information about her body. In her writings she often discusses her frustration at the sexism and rigidity of roles in Catholic Ireland that expected her to marry and have children, of which she did neither.
O’Faolain was engaged at least once, but she never married. In Are You Somebody?, she speaks candidly about her fifteen-year relationship with the journalist Nell McCafferty, who published her own memoir, Nell. From 2002 until her death, O’Faolain lived much of the time with Brooklyn-based attorney John Low-Beer and his daughter Anna. They were registered as domestic partners in 2003.
O’Faolain split her time between Ireland and New York City. She had been diagnosed with metastatic cancer and was interviewed on the Marian Finucane radio show on RTE Radio One on 12 April 2008 in relation to her terminal illness. She told Finucane, “I don’t want more time. As soon as I heard I was going to die, the goodness went from life”.
On 9 May 2008, it was announced that O’Faolain had died during the night. In 2012, RTÉ announced a major new documentary on her life