Fiction – paperback; The O’Brien Press; 174 pages; 1994.
The Mammy is Irish comedian Brendan O’Connell’s first book. It’s a very simple tale about a widow struggling to raise seven children on Dublin’s north side in the late 1960s.
Each chapter is essentially a short story centred on the individual characters that make up Agnes Browne’s family. There are funny little episodes with not-so-funny punchlines, and the language, studded with ‘Dublin-speak’, is very stripped back to the point of being boring.
Aside from these faults, it is a lighthearted story — punctuated with pathos — about a family on the wrong side of the tracks, the strength of friendship in trying times, and the essential goodness of people in a more naive era.
Apparently the book has been made into a film starring Angelica Houston, and while I haven’t seen it, I think it would probably be more entertaining than the novel.