Cathy Sweeney

Posted by Sue Leonard on Monday 30th March 2020

Cathy Sweeney has always loved reading.

“I loved English. I studied it and taught it until my late thirties.”

She taught up to Leaving Certificate in various schools including St Killian’s Community School, Bray, schools in Clondalkin and Cabinteely, The Institute of Education, and in her Alma mater, St David’s Greystones.

Cathy has been writing Modern Times for the past ten years, with stories published in The Stinging Fly, The Dublin Review, Banshee, Egress and Winter Papers.

“When Declan Meade of The Stinging Fly said he would publish a collection, the book was already complete. It was done and dusted by April last year, and that freed me to leave short stories.” 

Who is Cathy Sweeney?

Date of birth: 1970 in Dublin, but travelled with her family until she was 9, when they settled in Greystones, County Wicklow.

Education:   St David’s, Greystones. Trinity College, Dublin, English.

Home: Dublin.

The Day Job:  Fulltime writer. “I never expected not to teach, but I started writing a novel this year, and decided I needed a different lifestyle.”

In Another Life: “I’d be a gardener, and plant things to get a sensation of rootedness to the here and now.”

Favourite Writers: Beckett; Kafka; John McGahern; Anne Enright; Lydia Davis; Chekhov; Virginia Woolf. “I’ll read anything, including a lot of non-fiction – history, politics, psychology. My son works in a bookshop and I graze.”

Second Book: “I’ve started it. It’s a journey book set over 48 hours.”

Top Tip: “I’m borrowing from JG Ballard. He said, ‘Give up. Don’t do it, but if you have to do it, try and out imagine everyone else.”


The Debut: Modern Times. The Stinging Fly: €15.  Kindle: €10.26.

A wife who no longer desires her husband, orders a sex doll for his birthday. A cameraman, made redundant by the national broadcaster, spends his life making films without a camera. A married couple take turns to sit in an electric chair to keep their love on an even keel.

“Writing makes me deeply satisfied. I get huge pleasure from being able to drift around in the world I am making. I get a release and write out my zaniness.”


The Verdict: Startlingly inventive. Sweeney has an eye for the absurd, the discordant, and the strange.

Published in The Irish Examiner on 21st March

© Sue J Leonard. 2020

Leave a Reply