Secret gardens
Unearthing the truth in Patrick O’Keeffe’s The Hill Road
in Irish literature since 1990

The publication of Patrick O'Keeffe's 2005 collection of the novellas, The Hill Road, marked the arrival of a significant new voice in Irish fiction. In the title novella, truths gradually emerge about a famous local character, Albert Cagney, who had served as a soldier during the Great War. Secrets of the most heartrending, terrible and sometimes gruesome kinds are repeatedly unearthed in these novellas, yet significantly many disclosures turn out on closer inspection to be partial and incomplete. What characterises the novellas in The Hill Road is their emphasis on the masking of history, and on moments of submerged violence. Through the attention it pays to Cagney's fate, O'Keeffe's novella, like Sebastian Barry's novel, A Long, Long Way, participates in an important, more inclusive interpretation of Irish history. The veteran's story is conveyed by O'Keeffe in non-linear fashion, pieced together by a first-person narrator-investigator, Jack Carmody.

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