Carolan's Legacy: from Jonathan Swift to Brian Keenan.
Riocht na Midhe, 13.
It is remarkable that in the year 2000 a writer from the Prostestant, Unionist tradition of Northern Ireland should find himself repaying a debt to Turlough Carolan, the Nobber-born harpist, composer and Gaelic poet, who lived from 1670 to 1738. Yet this is what Brian Keenan does in his first novel. Turlough (2000,A) launched at the O'Carolan Harp, Cultural and Heritage Festival, 2000, in Nobber. As a hostage of muslim fundamentalists for four and a half years in Beirut, Brian Keenan was haunted and sustained in imagination by the presence of Carolan. Keenan describes graphically the unending darkness, isolation and deprivation of his narrow cell. His loneliness was relieved only by the chance ghosts of the fragile mind. They came and went at their own whim. Carolan, the blind harper, was one of these.
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