Waking: An Irish Protestant Upbringing

Hugh Maxton

About the book…

Brought up in the city of Dublin and in rural County Wicklow, the author records in this first book of memoirs a largely neglected dimension of southern Irish society-that of the non-Anglo-Irish and non-Catholic population, the 'petty people' of hill farms and the Protestant and Jewish inhabitants of suburban terraces. His view of the landscape is unsentimental, his account of the 1950s and early '60s at once grimly faithful and humorously responsive to the period. Nor is Ulster omitted from the picture; Bangor's seaside attractions and the more sinister bumps of nights in Monaghan and Fermanagh are also recorded. Confusion of sex and theology, the unfair seedtime of his secondary education, counterpoint evocations of hayfields and sheepwalks. Waking, however, revolves round the death of his father in 1961, an event already lovingly commemorated in a well-anthologies poem of the same title. Concluding with some terse political observations on the latter day scene, it is an autobiography at once elegiac and comic, in the Dublin tradition of Sean O'Casey.

Photo of the author, Hugh Maxton

About the author…

Hugh Maxton is the pseudonym of the academic and critic W.J. McCormack for his poetry and ‘fugitive pieces’.

Born near Aughrim in Co Wicklow in 1947, he has travelled extensively, living in Hungary over a period of ten years. As a consequence he has published translations of such major Hungarian poets as Agnes Nemes Nagy, Sándor Wéöres, and Endre Ady.

His poetry as Hugh Maxton includes Stones (1970); The Noise of the Fields (1976); Jubilee for Renegades Poems 1976-1980 (1982); Passage, with Surviving Poems (1985); .At the Protestant Museum (1986); The Puzzle Tree Ascendant (1988); The Engraved Passion: New and Selected Poems 1970-1991 (1992); Swiftmail (1992); Gubu Roi: Poems and Satires (2000); and Poems 2000-2005 (2005).

Under Hugh Maxton he has also published the memoir Waking: An Irish Protestant Upbringing (1997) with Lagan Press.

He is a member Aosdána, and lives in Monaghan.