Tuesday, November 30, 2021

Launch of 'warts and all' Curragh racing novel

Jim Kavanagh and Murt Malone at the launch of 'Iapetus '81'.

The latest book from Kildare Town author Martin 'Murt' Malone was described at its launch last Friday as 'an honest portrait of life in racing, the ups and downs, warts and all', writes Brian Byrne.

'Iapetus '81' was launched by retired trainer and Kilcullen resident Jim Kavanagh, who said he wanted to commend the writer for the novel's authenticity, which brought back many memories of his own experiences on the Curragh for so long.

The book is set in the summer of 1981, at a small stable-yard run by a struggling trainer on the Curragh. The detail comes straight from Murt Malone's own experiences, working in the yard where the story is set. There are two racing 'coups' involved, which are real, but he insists the characters are imaginary.

Growing up in the horse industry — Murt's father worked with Dermot Weld for many years — the author was well aware of the transient nature of the business. Young men came to the Curragh from all over the country with hopes of making it big. "The book is about hope that’s lost, hope that’s preserved … and hope gained."

With seven published novels, three collections of short stories, and plays for both radio and stage to his credit, Murt Malone is also embarking on a new adventure of his own with 'Iapetus '81', publishing it himself under the imprint Owl Fellas' Press. The name is a play on words and sounds: “It’s that this is no longer a country for old male writers, and the advances have dwindled over the years. So because I got two good grants from the Arts Council of Ireland and one from the Arts department in Kildare County Council, I was able to try this. I wouldn’t have been able to afford to publish it myself otherwise."

'Iapetus '81' is now on sale in 35 shops around the country. It’s online with Kenny’s of Galway, and it's in the American and British libraries.

Meantime, anyone who remembers the coups of 1981, especially the Down Royal one where the bookies went on strike for the first time ever and the RUC had to be called in to deal with the disturbance, will have an interesting time working out who is who in the 'imaginary' characters. Price €12, available locally in Woodbine Books. 

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