Phelan, Thomas Joseph 1940-

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PHELAN, Thomas Joseph 1940-

(Tom Phelan)

PERSONAL: Born November 5, 1940, in Strahord, Mountmellick, County Laois, Ireland; immigrated to the United States, 1970; son of John and Anne (Hayes) Phelan; married Patricia Mansfield (an editor), September 14, 1991; children: Joseph T., Michael C. Education: St. Patrick's Seminary, Carlow College, B.A., 1965; Seattle University, M.A., 1979.

ADDRESSES: Home—Long Island, NY. Agent— Glanvil Agency, 237 Church St., Freeport, NY 11520.

CAREER: Writer. Ordained Roman Catholic priest, 1965; left the priesthood, 1977; Harriman College, assistant professor of English. Worked in England for several years; worked as a carpenter and in insurance claims.

MEMBER: Authors Guild, Poets and Writers, Irish Writers Union.

AWARDS, HONORS: Finalist for "Discover Great New Writers" Award, Barnes & Noble, 1997, for In the Season of the Daisies.



In the Season of the Daisies (novel), Lilliput Press (Dublin, Ireland), 1993, Four Walls Eight Windows (New York, NY), 1996.

Iscariot (novel), Brandon (County Kerry, Ireland), 1995.

Derrycloney (novel), Brandon (County Kerry, Ireland), 1999.

Work represented in anthologies, including The Brandon Book of Short Stories, Brandon (County Kerry, Ireland), 1998. Contributor of short stories to periodicals, including Here's Me Bus: Magazine of New Irish Writing.

Phelan's works have been translated into French and German.

WORK IN PROGRESS: Two novels, The Clothing of the King and Death in Drumsally.

SIDELIGHTS: Thomas Joseph Phelan is an Irish writer whose first critically acclaimed novel, In the Season of the Daisies, relates the effects of a horrific crime perpetrated by local members of the Irish Republican Army (IRA) in a small Irish town. The crime, the 1921 killing of a young boy who accidentally witnessed an IRA military action (a murder), is kept fresh in the minds of the townspeople by the presence of Seanie Doolin, the twin brother of the murdered boy. Seanie, now a grown man, was maimed the night of his brother's death, both physically and mentally, never progressing emotionally beyond childhood. The story is recalled by a host of characters who witnessed the event.

Through the recollections of various people involved in the crime, including Seanie himself, Phelan explores the nature of violence and the psychological consequences of guilt. A Publishers Weekly reviewer praised the novel and commented, "We are drawn not only into the nightmare of [Seanie's] existence but also into the story's universal relevance." Beth Ann Mills, writing for the Library Journal, called the novel "an unforgettable exploration of the shattering effects of violence." A reviewer for Kirkus Reviews found weaknesses in the book's multiple narrators and melodramatic climax, but added that Phelan was particularly adept at "catching . . . the fractured workings of Seannie's mind." Mike Hudson commented in the Irish Echo that the use of multiple narrators is "a difficult narrative gambit" but acknowledged that "Phelan pulls it off in a masterly way." In the Leinster Express, Fidelma Freney termed In the Season of the Daisies"an outstanding novel. . . . The reader is held spellbound." Lissa Brennan, writing for the Pittsburgh Newsweekly, commented that the book "is the rarest and most treasured of occurrences—a novel that grips you by the throat with an irresistibly intriguing plotline and contains such fully drawn characters that you not only need to know what happened, you care about the consequences as well."



Books Ireland, February, 1994, review of In the Season of the Daisies.

Boston Irish Reporter, December, 1996, Ellen Connor, review of In the Season of the Daisies.

Cork Examiner, December 30, 1995, Emer McNamara, review of Iscariot.

Irish Echo, January 5, 1994, Mike Hudson, review of In the Season of the Daisies.

Irish Examiner, June 10, 2000, Alannah Hopkin, review of Derrycloney.

Irish Times, January, 1994, John Dunne, review of In the Season of the Daisies.

Irish World, April 7, 2000, Karen Murray, review of Derrycloney.

Kirkus Reviews, September 15, 1996, review of In theSeason of the Daisies, p. 1348.

Leinster Express, November 4, 1995, Fidelma Freney, review of In the Season of the Daisies.

Library Journal, July, 1993, Beth Ann Mills, review of In the Season of the Daisies, p. 122.

Pittsburgh Newsweekly, December 4, 1996, Lissa Brennan, review of In the Season of the Daisies.

Publishers Weekly, September 30, 1996, review of In the Season of the Daisies, p. 61.


Tom Phelan, Novelist, (April 4, 2004).