Author John Broderick was born in Connaught Street, Athlone, in 1924. He had 12 novels published in London, the best known being The Pilgrimage (1961). His bestseller was An Apology for Roses (1973), which sold 30,000 copies in the first week of its publication in 1973. Both these novels, along with The Fugitives and The Flood are all set with Athlone as a backdrop.
He also wrote the internationally renowned The Trial of Fr Dillingham, which was originally published in French in 1974 as Cite Pleine de Reves. He was elected to the Irish Academy of Letters in 1968 and was the winner of its Award for Literature in 1975. After a best-selling start in the sixties, his novels appeared largely ignored after the mid-Seventies. With the publication of a biography by Madeline Kingston (Something in the Head, the Life and Works of John Broderick, Lilliput, 2004) and the re-issuing by Lilliput of two of his finest novels, The Pilgrimage and The Waking of Willie Ryan, John Broderick's literary legacy continues to prosper.
Apart from literature he was an avid supporter of the visual arts and music. His donation of a Paul Henry picture ‘The Eel Weirs at Athlone’ to Athlone Library was hugely significant in the fact that it was the only public art display in Athlone at the time. He was passionate about classical music, evidenced by his substantial donation of recordings to the library for public use and he had a particularly high regard for tenor John McCormack.
He lived most of his life in the town and spent a brief spell in Paris in his younger years (from 1951) where he socialised with Truman Capote and Gore Vidal, before spending the last 8 years of his life in Bath, England where he died in 1989.
His bequest to the Arts Council of Ireland for “the benefit and advancement of the Arts in Athlone” has come to fruition and in partnership with Westmeath County Council three new artist residences have been agreed and developed for 2018 – 2020 to be located in Athlone.
The John Broderick Residency Series, will honour the Athlone writer John Broderick. The series will, on an annual basis increase the awareness of the writer, his works, and his engagement and generosity to the people of Athlone.
The residency is devised in partnership between the Arts Council of Ireland and Westmeath County Arts Office.
Details of the opportunity for writers to apply for this inaugural residency are included here John Broderick Residency Series 2019
Applications should be emailed on or before Thursday 11 April at 3pm to email@example.com