Séamas O’Reilly’s mother died when he was five, leaving him, his ten brothers and sisters and their beloved father in their sprawling bungalow in rural Derry. It was the 1990s; the Troubles were a background rumble (most of the time), and Séamas at that point was more preoccupied with dinosaurs, Star Wars and the actual location of heaven than the political climate.
Did Ye Hear Mammy Died? is a book about a family of argumentative, loud, musical, sarcastic, grief-stricken siblings, shepherded into adulthood by a man whose foibles and reticence were matched only by his love for his children and his determination that they would flourish. It is the moving, often amusing and completely unsentimental story of a boy growing up in a family bonded by love, loss and fairly relentless mockery.
Séamas O’Reilly is a columnist for the Observer and writes about media and politics for the Irish Times, New Statesman, Guts and VICE. He shot to a kind-of prominence with a range of online endeavours including ‘Remembering Ireland’, a parody of Irish nostalgia sites, which featured entirely invented moments from Irish history. In 2016, he posted a long Twitter thread about the effects Brexit would have on Northern Ireland, which led to his first political writing for the New Statesman. Later on that year, his exasperated reviews of the novels of erstwhile footballer and manager Steve Bruce led to his participation in events with Guardian Football Weekly and various others. His most recent viral sensation was a thread about the time he inadvertently…