Contemporary loss

The process of personal sfumato

Featured in

  • Published 20200505
  • ISBN: 9781922268761
  • Extent: 264pp
  • Paperback (234 x 153mm), eBook

ONE OF THE most popular Irish broadcasters and writers of modern times was Nuala O’Faolain. Abruptly, in the middle of an engaged and full life, she was diagnosed with lung cancer. Later, when dying, Nuala was interviewed on Raidió Teilifís Éireann, the equivalent of our ABC. Perhaps because of her fame and the popularity of this particular show, the broadcast became a national sensation. It was as if the whole of Ireland listened to this most intense end-of-life conversation, delivered not privately, at a bedside, but into the national ear. There was lightness and laughter, but there was also despair, openness and a tearful honesty.

‘As soon as I heard I was going to die,’ she said, ‘the goodness went from life.’ Reflecting on that life and the understanding she had gained from it, she continued: ‘It seems such a waste of creation that with each death all that knowledge dies.’

Already a subscriber? Sign in here

If you are an educator or student wishing to access content for study purposes please contact us at

Share article

More from author

A doctor’s notebook

MemoirThe woman from County MeathTHE WARMTH OF the Dublin day caught everyone by surprise. Through the window I could see children playing in the...

More from this edition

Note to self

GR OnlineHELLO YOU. Sorry you never get a Christmas card. Sorry I never invite you out to dinner. Sorry I have neglected and ignored you so...

Solving my medical mystery

Memoir IN OCTOBER 2018 I found myself in St Vincent’s Private Hospital. Located in Darlinghurst in inner-city Sydney, it was undergoing renovations and the grinding...

The time of our lives

IntroductionListen to Editor Ashley Hay read her introduction ‘The time of our lives’. YEARS AGO, I read a book by Douwe Draaisma, a professor of history and psychology...

Stay up to date with the latest, news, articles and special offers from Griffith Review.