Tom Phelan was born and raised on a small farm in Mountmellick, Co. Laois, in the Irish midlands. 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 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 five other novels: Nailer, The Canal Bridge, Iscariot, Derrycloney, and Lies the Mushroom Pickers Told, and he has seen his works published in four countries and three languages. He has also written for Newsday, the Irish Echo, and the Recorder, the journal of the American Irish Historical Society. Tom’s memoir pieces about his Irish boyhood run from time to time in the Irish Echo.
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.
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 has given readings and talks at the West Cork Literary Festival, King's Lynn Fiction Festival, Obras Portugal, Princess Grace Irish Library in Monaco, Hofstra University Summer Writers Conference, Irish Writers Centre, American Irish Historical Society, New York University Ireland House, Villanova University, Molloy College, Irish American Writers and Artists salons, and scores of other venues.
Tom was named a 2008-2009 Fellow of the Christopher Isherwood Foundation based on his novel The Canal Bridge.
He was the Fall 2012 Ireland Fund of Monaco writer-in-residence at the Princess Grace Irish Library in Monaco.
Tom Phelan at Vicarstown canal bridge, County Laois.
Photo by Bernadette Keating, berniekeatingphotography.com