AND EMO COURT
There was an Ancient House
by Benedict Kiely
Published by Methuen and Co Ltd London
1955, and Wolfhound Press Dublin
was born near Dromore Co Tyrone in 1919, and became
one of Ireland’s best known novelists and
broadcasters. He entered the novitiate of St Mary’s at Emo Court in 1937, but in April 1938
moved to a Dublin hospital having contracted tuberculosis.
He devoted his convalescence to reading and study but subsequently decided to
leave the Jesuits.
banned for being an “indecent and obscene” novel, There was an Ancient House is the story of thirty novices in a
religious order and their attempts to conform to the rule of the order. It is
based on the experiences of Benedict Kiely at Emo Court and is an “examination of the
disturbing or profound psychic realities that lie beneath an apparently
untroubled veneer ... (that is) determined to preserve propriety at all costs”.
(Andrew Haggard, Modern Irish Writers, a Bio-Critical Sourcebook)