I’m Tadhg Coakley, I’m from Mallow, living in Cork. I’m a writer.
Debut Novel: The First Sunday in September
My novel in stories, The First Sunday in September, was shortlisted for the Mercier Press Fiction Prize, 2017 and was published by Mercier Press in August 2018. It tells the story of a fictional All-Ireland Hurling Final Sunday, from the points of view of several recurring characters, exploring recurring themes.
From the book blurb:
‘It’s the day of the All-Ireland Hurling Final. A hungover Clareman goes to Dublin, having remortgaged his house and bet the last of the money on his county to win. An Englishwoman attends the final with her partner, wondering when to tell him that she’s pregnant. A long-retired player watches the match from the stands, his gaze repeatedly falling on the Cork captain, whom he and his wife gave up for adoption years earlier. Clare’s star forward struggles under the weight of expectation. Cork’s talisman waits for the sliotar to fall from the sky, aware that his destiny is already set.
These are just some of the many characters we meet in the book.’
The First Sunday in September has been highly praised:
‘The First Sunday in September really is quite an achievement. It has hurling at its heart but the game stands as a fulcrum around which the stories act and the stories are vibrant and authentic, brimming with the intensity and the desire and the triumphs and failures that make sporting occasions such a sublime allegory for our human condition. I enjoyed it immensely.’
‘Imagine Raymond Carver meets Donal Ryan and you have Tadhg Coakley’s novel. His writing is taut and vivid, his voice compelling and compassionate. From the ordinary experiences of a single day, he evokes an entire complex world. A stirring new voice in Irish fiction.’
‘Inventive, polyphonic, compelling: Coakley’s Irish chorus lifts off the page to cry out its fears and desires. A visceral sports novel, and yet so tender.’
‘Tadhg Coakley deftly captures those moments when a life, like a sliotar, appears to hang suspended, mid-air, and nobody can be sure what will happen when it drops.’
‘The First Sunday in September takes us through the turnstiles of a sporting event but also into the hearts and minds of a medley of characters who sometimes win but often lose, and whose experiences of life ring true.’
‘Just like his county’s hurlers currently play, Coakley’s book is fast-moving, highly skilled and a pleasure to behold.’
The Irish Independent
‘Coakley has created a novel that uses sport as a portal into the lives of characters whose emotional struggles are explored and examined with a raw realism and a searing lack of sentimentality.’ The Irish Times (full article here)
‘The First Sunday in September is a masterclass in structure and characterisation – where each individual has his or her unique contribution to make to a narrative which highlights the frailty of human existence.’
‘… you should head to your nearest bookshop and pre-order a copy. You will absolutely not be disappointed and we would be very surprised if the book didn’t win some prizes.’
The Evening Echo
‘Clever and assured. Packs an emotional punch.’
‘With such a wide range of characters and emotions, there is something for everyone and it sits high in the … oeuvre of Irish sporting fiction.’
The Irish Examiner
‘Tadhg Coakley weaves a complex tale around a fictional All-Ireland final… it has hurling close to its centre, but it is certainly not a book that excludes non-GAA fans.’ The Clare Champion
About Me and Other Work
I graduated with first-class honours from the M.A. in Creative Writing course in University College Cork in 2017, focusing mainly on short-form fiction. My stories have been published in The Honest Ulsterman, Quarryman and Silver Apples journals. My story Angels was short-listed for the From The Well Anthology, 2017 and appears in that anthology. A short film of mine was published in THE CINE FILES journal. Some articles and reviews of mine have appeared in the Irish Examiner.
My story hows tommy boy was selected to be read at the 2016 West Cork Literary Festival. I have also read my work at The Killorglin Arts Festival (K-Fest) in 2016, at the Launch of Quarryman in U.C.C. in 2016, and at The Fiction at The Friary event in Cork City in 2016 and 2017.
I read my story Angels at the Cork International Short Story Festival in September, 2017, which was a great thrill. This was an event showcasing the Smoke in The Rain Anthology, the 2017 From the Well Short Story Competition, organised by Cork County Libraries and Arts Service.
I have also written a contemporary crime novel, set in Cork City. It’s the first of a series. The working title is: Whatever It Takes. I have begun the sequel. These feature a Detective, Tim Collins, who is at war with a crime gang and their unstable boss, Molloy. Collins faces crucial decisions in Whatever It Takes: just how far is he willing to go to protect his city and defeat Molloy, what exactly is he prepared to do?
I am also working on a literary novel at present, provisionally entitled: The Window. This is partly a coming-of-age novel set in an Irish University in the 1980s, and partly the story of a dying man coming to terms with facing his end, in a hospice in London, with the help of two young artists.
I’m also working on a series of essays or maybe a book on sport: what it means. In this exploration of one of the world’s main consumer products (sport), I ask and attempt to answer the question: What Sport Is. Chapters on: Sport is Emotion, Sport is Communion, Sport is Identity, Sport is Family, Sport is Religion, Sport isn’t War, Sport is Memory, Sport is Identity, Sport is Art (Literature in particular), Sport is Everything, Sport is Nothing.
I also address the question why sport is so under represented in fiction in Ireland – of all countries, with our love of story and our obsession with sport.
Literary agents, take note…
Here are some of my short writings, in this blog.
You can reach me at email@example.com most days.
Here’s me with three other writers after my reading at the Cork International Short Story Festival in September, 2017. From left: Mary Rose McCarthy, Anne O’Leary (winner of the competition), myself, and Billy O’Callaghan (judge and moderator of the reading).
Here’s a video of me reading my story Angels (Mary Rose and Anne reading too, introduced by the great Billy O’Callaghan) that day. I’m at 34 minutes.