Séamas O' Reilly Did Ye Hear Mammy Died?

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Description

Did Ye Hear Mammy Died? is Séamas O'Reilly's memoir of growing up as one of eleven children in rural Northern Ireland in the 1990s after the death of their mother when Seamas was five. He delves into his family - his pleasingly eccentric, reticent but deeply loving father; his rambunctious siblings, intent on enforcing a byzantine age-based hierarchy; and the numerous bewildering friends, relations and neighbours who blew in and out to 'help'.

Seamas describes how his mother's death changed his childhood relationships with everyone and everything, as knowledge of his tragic experience preceded him. He writes hilariously and tenderly of how his father, Joe, strove to give his children a happy home and a good education - building bookshelves in every room so as to avoid having to lecture them on the importance of academic achievement; videotaping and obsessively cataloguing more than 800 films so as not to have to take out a Blockbuster subscription; having the local nuns cook their Christmas turkey every year.

This unusual childhood took place in Northern Ireland at the end of the Troubles, on the Irish border that Brexit has made once more into a hotly contested political frontier. Seamas describes living on that boundary, including the time an IRA bomb blew out their windows when he was three. We then follow Seamas through his teenage years as a nascent political radical and amateur satirist, and his arrival in Dublin as a university student.

Did Ye Hear Mammy Died? is the story of a boy growing up; a family bonded by loss, love and mockery; and their triumphs and disasters as they reached for their goal of some kind of normality.

About the Author

Seamas O'Reilly is a columnist for the Observer and writes about media and politics for the Irish Times, New Statesman, Guts and VICE. He shot to a kind-of prominence with a range of online endeavours including 'Remembering Ireland', a parody of Irish nostalgia sites, which featured entirely invented moments from Irish history.

In 2016, he posted a long Twitter thread about the effects Brexit would have on Northern Ireland, which led to his first political writing for the New Statesman. Later on that year, his exasperated reviews of the novels of erstwhile footballer and manager Steve Bruce led to his participation in events with Guardian Football Weekly and various others.

His most recent viral sensation was a thread about the time he inadvertently found himself on ketamine while in a room serving drinks to his boss's boss's boss and the President of Ireland, Mary McAleese. Seamas lives in Hackney with his family.

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'I cannot stress enough how much I love this funny, adorable memoir. Not only hilarious, tender, absurd, delightful and charming, but written with such skill as to render it unforgettable. I now can't wait to see the TV series and/or to become Seamas's best friend'
- Nina Stibbe, bestselling author of Reasons to be Cheerful

'Tender, sad and side-splittingly funny, this is the unforgettable story of how a boy with ten siblings and no mother grew into a man. It's a love letter to Northern Ireland and all the children, dogs, priests and struggling parents that live there. I adored it'
- Annie MacManus

'Grotesquely funny'
- Sophie Heawood, author of The Hungover Games

'An almost improbable true story of an Irish man bringing up eleven (yes, eleven) children on his own, after his wife dies. Seamas is the ninth of these "half-orphans" and he writes about his childhood and grief with such pathos and wit - even the chapter on his father's love of dogs is exquisite. A gorgeous memoir'
- Pandora Sykes

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