Playwright, novelist and actor, Joseph Tomelty is one of the most important figures to have emerged from the north of Ireland in the 20th century.
Indeed, it would not be too far a stretch to say that Tomelty's work especially in his still fondly remembered radio soap The McCooeys represents the first major imaginative portrayal of a particularly northern sensibility, humour and tang of speech. Tomelty's influence is still felt today in Northern Irish drama - despite his writing career' having been effectively ended in 1954 by a major car accident.
The 'in-house' dramatist of Belfast's seminal Ulster Group Theatre, his stage work spanned the broad farces of Barnum Was Right and Mugs and Money, through the whimsical April in Assagh to the darker tragic tones of The End House and All Souls' Night. His novels - the grim psychological study Red is the Port Light and the socio-realistic The Apprentice - are still essential reading.
Yet, more than a writer, Tomelty was a public figure of significance in his native place. His character roles in such film classics as Odd Man Out meant that, even in later years, he was capable of drawing admiration and affection from the people to whom he first gave voice. Published to mark the centenary of the Portaferry author's birth, McMahon's vivid biography, allied to his insightful criticism of the work, brings to life once again the man and his imagination.
Sean McMahon is a native of Derry, where he has lived for most of his life. He has more than fifty titles to his credit as author and
editor, most of them in the fields of Irish history, literature and biography. His recent books include The Bloody North:
Infamous Ulster Murder Cases, The Belfast Blitz: Luftwaffe Raids on Northern Ireland, Life of Joseph Devlin. His editorial credits
include the highly praised Derry Anthology.