The Minogue stories were optioned for development into a TV series, and for film. The final step of actually making a 'pilot' or episodes remains unfulfilled. The most frequent explanation was that the stories are too Irish in idiom (i.e. for UK prime time episodes) More recently, Irish crime fiction writers have become better known. Tastes in crime fiction change and so does readership.
Research is more than fact checking. Research can be a form of procrastination.

It takes many years for some things to sink in with me. That’s never more true than with things that I assumed I knew.

Stays in Ireland always offer inspiration. Walking, watching, and eavesdropping will tell you plenty.

Last on the research list is that fact-checking - and that’s thanks to innumerable resources online. For very specific items, a phone conversation with a member of the Gardaí is enough. He is a sergeant, by the way, and stationed in Dublin, so he knows his onions.

I’ve discovered that characters in the Minogue stories tend to shoulder aside any plot. I hear them talking as I write. There does be a fair bit of cursing.
I pick names in the Minogue stories for what they can evoke from Irish life and my own experience.

Matt Minogue
Matt was father of a friend. That kind and hospitable man’s manner of speaking, and his stories and his temperament, inspired Minogue's.

Many of Minogue's expressions came to me through my mother, who was born and reared in Clare. The name derives from the Irish work for monk
manach, as does the more common Manning, Mannion and Mannix.

Minogue is a name that immediately says 'County Clare.' If you drive into Tulla, a village that is also a shrine for followers of the Clare hurling teams, you will see from quite a distance the name Minogue on a pub.

Kathleen Minogue
This is taken from sentimental ballads such as 'I'll take you home again Kathleen’ and ‘Kathleen Mavourneen,’ staples of tear-stained Irish American warbling. Minogue as a young man had wanted shot of Ireland. He considered emigrating to America.

Kathleen is from Dublin. She is plain-spoken and doesn't hesitate to remind boggers or culchies - people from outside the grand metropolis of Dublin - that Dublin rules.

Iseult Minogue
This name is gaining some popularity as Irish people renew their interest in Irish. Iseult comes from legends such as Tristan and Isolde.

Daithi Minogue
David - the young, upstart king of the Israelites who took down a giant.

Éamonn Minogue
The name of the Minogues’ first child, who died a crib death. Éamonn is pronounced Eh-munn, which is close enough to Amen. As Minogue turned away from God, he formed an unconscious resolve not to let others die, i.e. to 'rescue' others by catching their killers.

James ‘The Killer’ Kilmartin
Cardinal Jaime Sin was a protector and champion of the poor in his native Philippines. In a homily on the feast day of St Martin's Day, he spoke about the tradition of sacrificing a pig to celebrate the day. He was referring to the incomparably corrupt dictator Ferdinand Marcos. For this he was later assassinated.

Jim Kilmartin, C.O.of the fabled Murder Squad, is full of bluster and belligerence - hence his nickname: ‘The Killer.’ Kilmartin is humbled by a life event in the later Minogue stories. His subsequent efforts at self improvement are not to be relied on.

Shay (Séamus) Hoey was Minogue’s side-kick in the early Minogue stories. He suffered so much stress in the job that he needed to transfer out. He is much happier now doing school outreach and making use of the card tricks he is so good at.

Tommy Malone

Malone is a riff on I-am-alone. Tommy Malone still refuses to wholly believe that he has ‘a touch of PTSD.’ Instead, he accounts his early morning nightmare awakenings - his ‘half three divils’ - to bewilderment at why he seems destined to mess up and to be alone.

Other characters’ names give strong clues to the origins of their nicknames: Plate-Glass (Fergal) Sheehy, Jesus Farrell.

Irish Surnames

The links below take you to a GIS generated map of surnames in use in the 1890 census, in Ireland. It’s not a definitive report on the origins or histories of the names there, but interesting nonetheless. Each link opens a new browser window.

Searchable version

PDF N.B. This is a large file of 92 mb, a poster size print. A broadband connection will save you grief here.

(‘Open’ in top right …)

A good test of a book is how it reads aloud. I get great comfort from hearing recited the names of places in the Irish countryside. This is not as rare a quirk as I had thought either.

In Ireland, there is a lot more to places and names for places than just geography. The countryside was mapped for the Ordinance Survey in the early nineteenth century. Many older Irish place names were anglicized often clumsily. That 'translation’ of place names gave the playwright Brian Friel his title for his landmark play 'Translations.’

Many of those place names names were rendered back to Irish/Gaelic names after Ireland became independent. Those restored Irish names are not always original.

In the Minogue stories, the place names in the countryside are chosen for their evocative quality as much as for prosody. I invented several too e.g. Gortaboher, which would be 'The Field by the Road.’


These are useful guides to how and why places in Ireland are thus named.




Commonly used words in Irish place names


New Books?

I am always writing new stories. The publishing industry has changed a lot since I began, however. My publisher went bust, and I am in a long line with other writers seeking (traditional) publisher’s interest.

I turned to self publishing a back list while I bide my time and write. The Tommy Malone stories are one result. I’ll decide over the summer whether to approach a publisher, or to self-publish them.

Next Minogue?
There are more Minogue stories waiting but it’s time to give Tommy Malone the lead. Later on I reckon it would be good to take Minogue back in time to the Seventies, say. Yes, when public phones didn’t work, when everyone smoked everywhere, and when, if you went looking for espresso, you’d be directed to the train station. Not sure I’m ready for the clothes or the music.

Why Austria?
My in-laws are Austrian and visits there spur ideas. Austria is sometimes overlooked but its history holds enormous interest and still wields influence today. There are interesting Irish / Austrian connections. I never forgot my first stays there, seeing the contrasts between the Ireland and the Austria of those years.

Hiberno English

Every language changes, perhaps never more so than now, with viral memes from social media and canned PR phrases colonizing speech. Ireland yet retains its distinctive hold on its own version of English.

I sometimes offer advice for people visiting Ireland by asking them to consider tuning the ear or the mind rather, by giving them some phrases they will hear. Talk often makes easy use of contradictions, misdirections and irony.

‘Don’t be talking, sure.’

This expression means the opposite i.e. ’Tell me more.’ It also conveys humour, faint disbelief, sarcasm, bewilderment and exasperation.

‘Come here to me..’

This is the ace of the pack: it has nothing to do with pace or geography.

(Poster-size images of common Irish expressions can be downloaded at the
Free page.)

Some references online

Dictionary: Dolan’s reference book is a keeper.

slang, expressions, proverbs and more

Scríobh: The
Irish language

There are plenty of coarse expressions at these sites. Mind yourself.

Irish English terms

Irish Slang

Hiberno English slang

Mrs Malaprop, Irish Bulls etc

I have a massive fondness for these incongruities of speech. The more mistaken use of idiom and unintentional paradoxes and tautologies… leading to absurdity… the better. Even the likes of Samuel Beckett found refuge and consolation in this arena.

It could be said that the Irish took revenge on their colonizers by taking over their language and wringing its neck. One unfortunate byproduct might be that some Irish people play up the gormless Paddy more than is decent.

Origins of:
Mrs Malaprop

The name comes from a character named Mrs. Malaprop in the play "The Rivals" by Richard Brinsley Sheridan, a Dublin playwright who found fame in London in the late 1700s.


Alcoholics Unanimous, for Alcoholics Anonymous
Various veins, for varicose veins
Electrical votes, for electoral votes

Dubliner and former Taoiseach Albert ‘Bertie’ Ahearn did not lose any popularity for the likes of these:

- ‘
It’s all smoke and daggers…that’s all it is!

- ‘I
t took Ireland 30 years to become an overnight success.’

Less well remembered are these, not coincidentally relating to the same charge of insider shenannigans:

- ‘I
deeply resent the allegations, and I defy the allegators to step forward..’

If you have ever
marked student essays, you will have had a rich immersion.

- ‘
Thomas Jefferson, a Virgin, and Benjamin Franklin were two singers of the Declaration of Independence...'

Irish Bulls

The term originated with Sir Boyle Roche, an Irish M.P. in the later 1700s. It is not clear whether his bluster was a screen for a keen intelligence or perhaps a fondness for mischief.

Irish accents and use of Hiberno Irish forms were much mocked and sneered at in Britain at the height of its empire. Irish people were commonly portrayed as stupid, simian in appearance, innately violent and backward. As ugly as this treatment was, it did not approach the depths of prejudice and violence toward Africans and indeed other non-white peoples.

Irish people are known to play up ‘The Paddy’ in order to deceive. James Joyce included them. ‘… where the hand of man has never set foot…’

Famously, Boyle Roche orated:

- “Why we should put ourselves out of our way to do anything for posterity, for what has posterity ever done for us?"

- “We should silence anyone who opposes the right to freedom of speech."

It’s just as a wag noted: the Irish Bull is always pregnant.


Honorary Irish citizenship should be considered for the following notables. A certificate of proficiency, at least.


Sam Goldwyn must have had Irish relations. Note: relations in Ireland means relatives. One leads to another in any case.

Goldwyn routinely tied himself in knots.

- ‘The next time I send a damn fool for something, I go myself.’
- ‘Anybody who goes to a psychiatrist needs his head examined.’
- ‘’His verbal contract is worth more than the paper it's written on.’

Yogi Berrisms

Yogi died in 2015 after 70 years in pro baseball. Again, an honorary Hiberno-Irish identity card for him.

- ‘Always go to other people's funerals; otherwise they won't go to yours.’

- ‘90 percent of it is half mental.’

Murphy’s Laws

Irish minds seem to have a talent for engaging with the absurd. Maybe it’s because of how we are said to respond, with laughter instead of despair. The Murphy here was supposedly a US Capt. Ed Murphy, an aeronautical engineer.

My favourite is Murphy’s Law of Damage:

- ‘If there’s a 10 percent change of something going wrong, it will go wrong 100 percent of the time and cause 110 percent damage.’

It is true. The ‘extra’ 10 percent is to the ego or the morale of the participants / culprits. You can check the Math yourself.

More. And yet more again…

I’m routinely scolded about how I spell eejit – the Irish version of idiot – ‘wrong.’ Fair enough, eejit is universally used. But to me, such widespread ignorance is instructive. So: this is one usage where I will take the prescriptive approach. Only an iijit, or maybe somebody who is a complete tic entirely would accuse me of being pedantic.

Mind you, this pretty well invites a follow-up conversation that would go like this, probably.

‘Come here to me. Did you hear your man?’
‘The fella with the bad spelling, is it, and the attitude?’
‘Exactly. The state of your man. He’s lost the run of himself, is what I think.’
‘This nonsense about spelling iijit, you mean.’
‘A complete cod, so it is. Talk about contrary.’
‘You might be right.’
‘I was never more right, let me tell you. Look, do you know what I’m going to tell you? He’s one iijit, surely.’

Timelapse videos

These are almost commonplace now. I sometimes forget how much planning and care these take.

Dublin Time lapse

A Full Irish Day

A Year In Dublin

Download a video file to your computer:


These to me are even more captivating that time lapses. Fixel, a Canadian company, has made what was a complex, time-consuming task much simpler. Still waiting for some from Ireland (July 2016.) Do let me know….


Landscape examples



National Library of Ireland

Photo Sharing Sites

Google Images (‘Ireland’ + filter: ‘Larger than 4 mp’ i.e. sized to fill HD screen wallpaper)

National Archives of Ireland

A big of digging
here will reward you.

Genealogy Search

National Archives

Searchable, using census and parish records. Remember that much of Irish records were lost during the Civil War.

Census Records


If you are descended from Irish emigrants, this census may be a valuable start to your search: Irish emigration ramped up again from the start of the 20th century.

Blog: Dublin and history fans

Come here to me.. ‘

If I had to pick one phrase that says ‘Dublin,’ this would be it - more even than ‘fierce’ or ‘deadly.’ This wonderful blog is a gathering place for fans of Dublin. Plenty has been said and written about Dublin - probably too much. The past twenty years especially have transformed the city completely. That does not stop me remembering as I pass along O Connell St of the General Post Office there - main site of the 1916 Easter Rising - that until recently well-worn brass plates next to letter drops were titled: ‘Dublin’ and ‘Rest of The World.’

Irish Folklore material

Dúchas: A site for
Irish folklore and culture.

Proverbs and Pisreógs (superstitions)

If you have a weakness for proverbs…These are given in both Irish and English.


(Wiki: ’Irish Proverbs’)

Daltaí na Gaeilge

(‘Students of Irish)


(Cappabue National School, Kealkill, County Cork)

Pavee Superstitions

(Pavees: a name Irish Travellers prefer to call themselves.)

Father Ted and D’Unbelieveables

‘Father Ted’ was a documentary masquerading as a comedy. There are clips available online via a Youtube search.

Also, full episodes

D’Unbelieveables’ is rural Tipperary at its mightiest.


YouTube Search

Fugitives and Runaway Indentured Servants

I chanced across these while reading ‘White Cargo: The Forgotten History of Britain's White Slaves in America.’ Something about the wording stayed in my mind.

Field Worker
From The Pennsylvania Gazette, July 7, 1763
RUN away from the subscriber, living in Lancaster ... a Native Irish Servant Woman, named Katey Norton, who came from the County of Wicklow, in Ireland, last Fall, she is about 25 or 26 years of age, of a dark complexion, has black hair, talks in the Irish dialect, rocks in her walk, and is pretty sharp in talking . . . she is a cunning hussey, and no doubt will pass a while for an honest woman, as she has good clothes with her, and can behave herself. Whoever takes up said woman, and brings her to the subscriber, in Lancaster, shall have three pounds reward, and reasonable Charges, paid by me ROBERT FULTON.

Plenty more

If you are a Brady

Brady C of A
I don’t have much interest in digging into family names on either side of our family. A surname’s supposed meanings or origins can be fanciful or downright nonsense too. Also, most ‘coats of arms’ are bogus.

That said, the original Irish word behind the Brady surname looks to be
brádach. It may come as little surprise it some that it denotes a cross-grained temperament.

Recently my eye was drawn to this series of dime novels.

‘Secret Service : old and young King Brady, detectives.’

Wait but! These are fraught times for identity and grievance politics. If you’re touchy about past depictions of non WASP Americans and immigrants to America, the covers and dialogue will give you plenty to be outraged about. Mind yourself.