Declan Toohey.

Posted by Sue Leonard on Monday 20th March 2023

Declan has been reading for as long as he can remember.

            “Yet as a small child, I couldn’t sit still. I was frequently climbing a tree or climbing out of a window.”

He wrote his first novel between leaving school and starting university.

            “It was appalling,” he says. “Quite unreadable, but I had so much fun writing it.”

During college he wrote mainly short stories and screenplays. Afterwards, he lived in the North studying film.

            “The first half of the year was amazing,” he says. “But I had a bit of a breakdown, and afterwards I returned to fiction.”

He spent a year at home, then left for Canada living in Halifax, Nova Scotia, where he worked as a bartender. While there, he won a place on the Irish Writer’s Centre Novel fair with his debut. Following that, he got his book deal in May 2021.  

He wrote a different book during his MFA, and afterwards, wanting a break from it, wrote another novel, thanks to money from the Arts Council.

            “I’m planning to finish the MFA novel this year,” he says.

Who is Declan Toohey?

Date of birth: 1997 in Scotland, but brought up in County Kildare.

Education: Scoil Dara, Kilcock. NUI Maynooth, English with Music. Queen’s University, Belfast, MA in Film. University College, Dublin, MFA in Creative Writing.  

Home: Kilcock, County Kildare.

Family: Partner, Laura. A biology and chemistry teacher. Parents, Fiona and John, and sister, Caitlin.

The Day Job: “I’m doing some tutoring at UCD.”

In Another Life: “I’d be a frustrated 19th Century symphonist.”  

Favourite Writers: Mark O’Connell; Keith Ridgeway; Anne Enright; Miriam Toews; Gwendoline Riley; Perceval Everett; Thomas Pynchon.

Second Book: “It’s done and with my agent, Peter Strauss.”

Top Tip: “Have as much fun with your novel as you can. Because if you’re not having fun, neither will the reader.”

Website:   Twitter: @DeclanToohey

The Debut: Perpetual Comedown. New Island Books: €15.99. Kindle: €7.88.

Darren Walton is attempting to decode a conspiracy he discovered as a student in Maynooth. He believes there’s an alternate Ireland, Camland, and that, once he locates it, he’ll find academic fame. But is he willing to lose his safety, his friends, and ultimately his sanity?  

The Verdict: Zany. Inventive. Highly experimental, yet poignant.

Published in the Irish Examiner on 25th February.

© Sue J Leonard

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