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Tom Phelan

About  Tom  Phelan

Tom Phelan was born and reared on a small farm in Mountmellick, Co. Laois, Ireland. Tom had just turned fifty when his first novel, In the Season of the Daisies, was accepted for publication by the Lilliput Press in Dublin. Books Ireland's reviewer later wrote, "The most obvious question posed by a novelistic debut with as much resounding vigour as this is: Where has Mr. Phelan been?"

Since then, Tom has penned a memoir, We Were Rich and We Didn’t Know It: A Memoir of My Irish Boyhood, and five other novels: Nailer, The Canal Bridge, Iscariot, Derrycloney, and Lies the Mushroom Pickers Told.

In We Were Rich and We Didn’t Know It: A Memoir of My Irish Boyhood,, Tom looks back on his formative years, working with his wise and demanding father as he sought to wrest a livelihood from a small farm.

In the Season of the Daisies, which centers on the 1921 IRA murder of a young boy and the effects on the survivors, was chosen for the Discover Great New Writers series sponsored by Barnes & Noble. It was also a finalist for the Discover Great New Writers Award.

Iscariot, tells the story of an expatriate ex-priest who returns to Ireland to face the past and stumbles across the suspicious circumstances surrounding the death of a young woman.

In the humorous Derrycloney, Tom looks at life in the Irish countryside in the 1940s. He calls the book his "fanfare for the common man and woman" of his childhood.

The Canal Bridge, set in Ireland and France in the First World War, is the story of two Irish soldiers – and the lovers and families they leave behind – as they struggle to survive the slaughterhouse that was Europe from 1914 to 1918. The Irish Independent calls it a “masterpiece…ambitious, accomplished and deeply moving.”

Tom’s novel, Nailer, which Books Ireland calls "a hard-hitting thriller," is about a man determined to get revenge – or is it justice? It is set against the backdrop of Ireland's abusive industrial schools and the collusion between state and church that allowed them to flourish.

Lies the Mushroom Pickers Told is a tale of two returned emigrants and their effect on the Irish village they call home. Shelf Awareness calls it “a masterful portrait of Irish village life disguised as a murder mystery.”


Tom Phelan at Vicarstown canal bridge, County Laois.
Photo by Bernadette Keating,

Tom Phelan