Celebrating One of Ireland’s Most Underrated Writers | ShanOre

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Celebrating One of Ireland’s Most Underrated Writers

Kate O’Brien should be one of Ireland’s most celebrated writers. Banned by both Irish and Spanish authorities in her lifetime, she tackled the intertwined taboo subjects of women’s freedom and sexuality, rendering compelling plots in lushly beautiful prose.




Nothing in her works would be shocking to modern readers, but her allusions to adultery, same-sex relationships and her complex, intelligent female heroes did not sit well with the same government board that banned James Joyce, Brendan Behan and Edna O’Brien.

Born on December 3rd, 1897 in Limerick, O’Brien came from a comfortable Catholic family. Her career as a writer had an unusual trajectory. Instead of living in an attic hovel while churning out masterpieces that would be rejected in her lifetime, O’Brien enjoyed real success with her earliest work.

In 1926, her play Distinguished Villa did well enough that she devoted herself to writing full time. Her debut novel Without My Cloak, published in 1931, won both the James Tait Black Memorial and the Hawthornden literary prizes. Her work was popular although controversial. Two of her novels – Mary Lavelle and Land of Spices – were banned in Ireland. She travelled around Europe, and was particularly interested in Spain. O’Brien spent long periods in Spain and set some of her stories there. Spain also banned some of her works. O’Brien died in England in 1974.

Interestingly enough, the two O’Briens have more in common than just a surname and a stellar writing career that involved some of their work being banned. They both have December birthdays. Edna O’Brien was born on December 15th, 1930 in Tuamgraney, County Clare.

Birthday Gems for December

December has a few official birthstones, and they are all blue. ShanOre’s December birthstone jewelry features blue topaz. Blue is a color with rich meaning. It’s the color of the sky and the sea – symbols of the intellect and emotion. O’Brien was a master of combining both forces to produce her brilliant, compelling stories. Blue also represents spirituality, trustworthiness, loyalty and tranquillity. At one point, blue was associated with Ireland and St. Patrick. The harp appears as a symbol of the Irish government against a blue background.

People with December birthdays can often feel overlooked, especially those whose big day falls toward the end of the month. It’s hard to compete with Christmas. But you can remind a December birthday girl that she’s unforgettable with Irish birthstone jewelry.

Birthstone jewelry is always a great birthday gift for her, and in December it shows that you aren’t overlooking her big day. When you want a special way to celebrate her December birthday, these pieces with rich Celtic motifs are perfect. The Claddagh design symbolizes love, friendship and loyalty. The spiral on the bead reflects the deep roots of ancient Celtic designs at Newgrange and other Neolithic sites. Which one would make her eyes sparkle on her birthday?

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