Michael Curtin — novelist, storyteller and decent man

Another one-off leaves us

If Michael Curtin happened to arrive for morning coffee, the chances were he’d ask one question.

Do you know what I watched on telly yesterday?

And the answer is Yes. Yes, Mick, I know exactly what you watched yesterday. You watched the 569th re-run of Shane, just in case there was a blade of grass you didn’t notice on the previous 568 viewings.

Michael Curtin

That was Mick Curtin, author of six fine novels, a hilarious man with a fine dark sense of humour and a keenly-honed sense of everyone’s absurdity, including his own. A man with an artist’s eye and a deep instinct for the written word. A man who, better than most, far better than me, could deliver the dry one-liner with a straight face.

A storyteller sans pareil, not only in his books, not only in his talk but even in the way he held himself, Michael Curtin spellbound all who worshipped at the shrine of his sardonic genius for many reasons, but most of all because Michael Curtin was the master of the pause, the finest and least attainable of the storyteller’s many skills.

Mick Curtin knew how to inhabit a silence like few other men. Enveloped in the peace of his soundlessness as he scanned the racing pages, you never felt awkward. You never felt the need to blurt out some meaningless commonplace because you knew that Mick would sooner or later produce a nugget of wisdom.

Now, it’s true that occasionally the nugget needed a little contemplation to dig out its inner meaning.

I wish they’d turn down that fucking music.


Is your car outside?

But just as often, he might offer you an insight into the mind  of his publisher friend André Deutsch, or he might wish some misfortune on the head of Louis Van Gaal. He might tell you who stole the Bateman Cup. He might just sit and stare and that was good too.

He’s gone from us now and his passing was unobtrusive which is not how we might have wished it.

He slipped away in the night to the endless sorrow of his family but in a parallel universe wouldn’t we wish that the great Michael Curtin had gone out with a Tommy-gun, battling the Feds in the street outside his beloved Nancy Blakes?

Come out now, Buttsy Curtin with your hands in the air.

Never! You’ll never take me alive!

A burst from his Tommy-gun. A hail of lead, one final tragic embrace and Buttsy breathes his last in the arms of those he cares for most as the Feds remove their caps in respect for the Last Outlaw.

Never mind. The alternative is just fine as Michael rides out on his horse towards the Grand Tetos in slow pursuit of Wilson the killer gunslinger.

Shane’s memory will be avenged even if it takes Mick a thousand years to track down Jack Palance and we’ll be with him every step of the way.




A writer out on his own

Limerick printer’s gift of ink


Michael Curtin books

6 thoughts on “Michael Curtin — novelist, storyteller and decent man

  1. sad news, I only ever spoke to him in passing. A gentleman who could finish the last clue in the crossword with a single glance.

  2. You could say without contradiction here was a man who was definitely A legend in his own lifetime

  3. A man of Wit and Wisdom,a true entertainer and a joy to listen to. Will be sadly missed by his group of worshippers at our morning coffee debates where he fixed all ailments and ended all arguments with the words and that’s that. Goodbye old friend, it was a pleasure to be in your company.

  4. Michael Curtin was a comic genius. His novels captured Limerick in all its glory. He told me once that like James Joyce he would like Limerick to be recreated from them in the event of a nuclear bomb. Michael was a pleasure to talk to. I can still hear him ordering ” a warm pint” in Flannery’s Bar. The Self Made Men and The Cove Shivering Club are some of my favourite novels ever and I keep returning to them. He had a great eye and ear for the surreal. Michael was also an expert Crossword Setter for the Limerick Leader many moons ago.

  5. I have known Michael Curtin for almost thirty years of my life and have considered him a friend and a man I could have a conversation with about anything but it normally would be about books, sport, or the movies we had both gone to see. If he had seen a movie that was of the radar for the normal going movie person, he would be at pains to tell me about it and the brilliant performances by the lead actors or the one outstanding scene that made him laugh out loud or the fab soundtrack that was part of the movie.
    I have had the pleasure of putting together two of his book launches over the years, those being The Cove Shivering Club, and The Plastic Tomato Cutter, which were both great events and indeed fairly memorable evenings.
    He has of course written four other very fine novels which included, The Replay, Sing, The Self Made Man, and the League Against Christmas, four wonderful books from a very talented writer, who in my humble opinion did not get the credit he deserved as a writer over the years.He has been one of Ireland’s great writers and fellow writers like Roddy Doyle, have acknowledge him as a great writer and a man with an incredible turn of phrase.
    I have been privileged to know Michael Curtin as a friend and I will miss his daily Questions in Nancy Blake’s Whether it be about sport or the movies or a book and Limerick has lost another great talent. To Anne and all his family my Sincere condolences and may he Rest In Peace Nicky Woulfe

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