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Claire Keegan: Finding Hope in Human Kindness


Although her output has been small, Irish writer Claire Keegan is recognized as an iconic talent whose work is beautiful, clear and elegant. Her rich and emotionally resonant stories have been praised as “rare and precious as a diamond in a coal mine.” Keegan’s tender, hopeful fiction shows a keen sense of empathy and awareness of the fault lines in Irish society.


“Small Things Like These” (2020) will be the focus of the first session. This quiet tale pits the compassion and moral courage of the central character against the power of the church and the silent complicity that allows evil to exist. The cruel betrayal of Christian ideals compels Bill Furlong to act, jeopardizing the good life he has worked so hard to establish for his family.


The novella “Foster” (2010), the focus of the second session, tells the story of a neglected young girl sent to live with strangers in the country. The casual cruelty of her family contrasts starkly with the warmth and kindness she experiences on the farm. As an added bonus for those who wish to stay after the second session, we will watch the luminous Irish language film, “The Quiet Girl” (An Cailín Ciúin, 2022), a compelling look at the little girl’s plight that resonates with quiet intensity.

Instructor Biography

Mary Murphy received her Ph.D. from New York University. Her expertise is in the 19th-century American novel. Newport artists and writers are an area of particular interest.

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