‘Laughter and kindness were her gifts to world’

Maeve was an inspiration both personally and professionally because she was such a glorious writer who understood people — and because she wanted Irish women writers to realise they were wonderful and stick together.

As a reader, I always felt that once you read a Maeve Binchy, you ended up feeling that the world was a better place. She could see the goodness in everyone and even when she wrote about the mean people we all inevitably meet, there was hope for their redemption. To do that, to diarise human life in the way she did it, was sheer genius.

I think of how she wrote the glorious Circle of Friends and everyone who was a teenage girl, or who could remember being a teenage girl, instantly sympathised with lonely Bennie.

I first met Maeve in the late ’90s when my first book was out and she had a party at her house for Irish women authors. Thrilled to be there, I half-wanted to slink into the corner but Maeve greeted me fondly and introduced me around. She had such warmth in her and it was on that day that I first got the notion that the pie was infinite.

The last time I saw her was at the Eason’s 125th anniversary celebrations. She was there to speak along with myself and Paul Howard. Before the speeches, the three of us sat in a corner and giggled and gossiped.

Laughter, kindness, and wonderful books were her gifts to the world. We will all miss her and my sympathies are with her dear husband, Gordon, who never left her side, and with her family.


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