Long distance love story told in a mid-century modern tale

‘In 1954, Brian Farrell and Marie-Thérèse Dillon were engaged but, like many young people of the time, they had no money,’ wrote Maurice Manning, Chancellor of the National University of Ireland in his preface for ‘PS: Look out for snakes, the love letters of Brian Farrell and Marie-Thérèse Dillon’. ‘Jobs in the academic world, to which Brian aspired, were very scarce. Brian won a scholarship to Harvard, the first step on what became a successful academic career but it also meant a long separation from Marie-Thérèse. This book, based on recently discovered letters, is the story of that separation. It is a love story.’

Maurice Manning, Chancellor of the National University of Ireland and Miriam Farrell Shtaierman, editor of love letters of her parents Brian Farrell and Marie-Therese Dillon

Kieran Fitzgerald and Melissa Teodorini at the book launch in MoLI, the Museum of Irish Literature Dublin Ireland

One of the most respected broadcasters of his generation, Brian Farrell was known for his ground-breaking current affairs coverage on Irish national television. Earning a position as a Masters degree candidate at Harvard, he corresponded almost every day with his then fiancée Marie-Thérèse , and their letters as compiled by their daughter, Miriam Farrell Shtaierman, were launched recently as a new book at MoLI, the Museum of Irish Literature in Dublin Ireland by Dr Manning.

“This book is a love story and that may lead in this world to sniggers, but love stories are part of the finest literature and some of the best books ever written,” said Maurice Manning when he launched the collection of letters. “This book is written in that genre, warmth and sheer longing in the book, all of which is captured in these letters.”

Katounia Press Publisher John Dillon (l-r), Olivia O’Leary and Miriam Farrell Shtaierman, who compiled the love letters of her parents into the new book

Theo Dillon and Helena Mulkern at the book lauch in MoLI, Dublin Ireland

The letters of Brian and Marie-Thérèse provide a personal insight into a unique Irish couple at the beginning of their life together, their words to each other forming a real-time commentary on social and political life in mid-1950s Ireland and the United States. Full of charm and eloquence, ‘PS: look out for Snakes’ counts down in joyous anticipation to the bride’s arrival in New York for a spring wedding with wit and humour while telling of their personal challenges and vital news of family and friends.

“I think it will find a wide audience,” added Maurice Manning. “I think the country is ready for that sort of comfort and I think the wider public will know that all of that has been rescued.”

Former Ireland Ambassador in Israel and the Czech Republic Alison Kelly (left) and Helena Mullkerns

The Farrell family (l-r), David, Naomi, Miriam, Rachel (missing from pic, Bernard, Brian, Theo), the children of Brian Farrell and Marie-Therese Dillon

‘PS: look out for snakes’ is available in paperback from Irish bookshops and from all major international online bookshop websites. Email info@katouniapress.com or see KatouniaPress.com.


Tags: Arts & Culture RTE Katounia Love Letters


Kim Mullahey

Kim Mullahey is Pynck.com’s Ireland Correspondent. She holds an honours undergraduate degree in Interdisciplinary Studies from the University of Chicago and has taught Adult Education Creative Writing Studies. Through a media career spanning nearly 25 years Kim has written and photographed regional news, national and international horse sports, fashion and lifestyle. Kim lives with her husband and son in Kildare Ireland, and a stray marmalade cat who has adopted the family.

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