Elaine Feeney

Posted by Sue Leonard on Friday 26th February 2021

From a farming background of five children, Elaine was a quiet, observant child – a watcher.

“I read a Kavanagh poem in secondary school and felt his isolation. I read Dylan Thomas aloud to myself at night. Words settled me. I started writing dark angst-ridden poetry.”

After university, Elaine taught in St Jarlath’s College in Tuam.

“I’d hated school, and thought, as a teacher, I could change the system and make things better.”

In 2014, Elaine became sick – and thinking it was work stress, ignored her illness, until she had to be resuscitated in hospital.

“It took me 18 months to recover.”

She wrote three collections of poetry before penning a novel.

Based on her hospital experience, her debut started as autofiction – and then took on a life of its own.

“It really came in a flow. I had a lot of chats with my characters.”

Having finished the novel, she put it away. Then the agent, Peter Strauss, aware of her poetry, asked to see the novel, took her on, and sold it.

As You Were was nominated for an An Post Irish Book Award Novel of the Year.


Who is Elaine Feeney?                      

Date of birth: 1979 in Galway.

Education: Presentation College, Athenry. NUI Galway, English Literature. University College Cork, Higher Diploma in Education.

Home: Athenry, Galway. “I bought the house I was brought up in.”

Family: Husband, Ray Glasheen. Sons Jack, 18 and Finn, 13.

The Day Job: “I’m on a career break from St Jarlath’s, but am teaching Creative Writing at NUI, Galway.”

In Another Life: “I’d love to be a carpenter.”

Favourite Writers: John McGahern; Virginia Woolf; Mike McCormack: Lisa McInerney; Claire Louise Bennett; Nicole Flattery; Sinead Gleeson; Edna O’Brien.

Second Novel: “It’s a about a young boy and is told in the third person. It’s nearly there.”

Top Tip: “Write freely. Block out all outside influences, and never ask permission.”

Twitter: @elainefeeney16.


The Debut: As You Were. Harvill Secker: €15.41. Kindle: €11.00. 

A high-flying property developer, Sinead Hynes has landed in hospital. Fearful, she keeps the truth of her illness from her family, and her fellow patients. Meanwhile ward life goes on – with all its kindnesses, humour and tragedies. 

The Verdict: Brilliant! In a year of sensational Irish debuts, this one really stands out.


Published in The Irish Examiner on 12th December.

© Sue J Leonard. 2020.

Leave a Reply