The Deep End by Mary Rose Callaghan

Coming of age in hard times with an extraordinary mother

Mary Rose Callaghan was shocked one day when she was 13 to see her mother jump without warming into a bitterly freezing Irish Sea even though she suffered from asthma. Seeing her dive into “the deep end” sparked a curiosity about her mother’s life—a curiosity that led eventually to this enthralling and poignant memoir of growing up in Dublin from the mid-1940s in a family that had fallen on hard times because of the failure of her father’s business.

The Deep End deals mainly with Mary Rose’s relationship with her mother, which endured through all the hardships and her mother’s descent into mental illness. In the end, she realises that despite all the pain and suffering, her mother had left her one great gift for life.

. . . you can never know anyone—not even your own mother. Everyone has a secret self, and she had lived another life before her children were ever thought of. A glamorous life that I hoped to copy one day.

An utterly enthralling memoir. An eventful childhood, full of joy and trauma, is followed by the life of adventure in the world of literature. Mary Rose Callaghan blends her personal story with the story of her time seamlessly. Her sure-footed artistry, her complete lack of pretension, and wry sense of humour which make this book a delight to read. Just wonderful!

Eilís Ní Dhuibhne

This is an enchanting memoir, a hymn to an extraordinary mother in an ocelot coat, and a charismatic father who could talk anyone into anything, a book so readable that I never wanted it to end. As Callaghan navigates the Scylla and Charybdis of growing up, a lost Dublin springs to life in all its charm and eccentricity.

Ivy Bannister

A true writer.  She faces facts and embraces them in her own off-beat voice.

Adrian Kenny, author

Ballyhillow, Leap, Skibbereen, County Cork, Ireland

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