Rory & Ita

Publisher: Vintage Canada
From the internationally acclaimed, bestselling novelist -- his first ever non-fiction book: a poignant, illuminating journey through a century of modern Ireland as told through the eyes of his parents.

Ita Doyle: “In all my life I have lived in two houses, had two jobs, and one husband. I’m a very interesting person.”

Rory and Ita tells -- largely in their own words -- the story of Roddy Doyle’s parents’ lives from their first memories to the present. Born in 1923 and 1925 respectively, they met at a New Year’s Eve dance in 1947 and married in 1951. Marvellous talkers, with excellent memories, they draw upon their own family experiences (Ita’s mother died when she was three -- “the only memory I have is of her hands, doing things”; Rory was the oldest of nine children, five of them girls); and recall every detail of their Dublin childhoods -- the people (aunts, cousins, shopkeepers, friends, teachers), the politics (both came from Republican families), Ita’s idyllic times in the Wexford countryside, and Rory’s apprenticeship as a printer.

When Roddy’s parents put down a deposit of two hundred pounds for a house in rural Kilbarrack, on the edge of Dublin, Rory was working as a compositor at the Irish Independent. By the time the first of their four children was born, he had become a teacher at the School of Printing in Dublin. Then, their home began to change (“Kilbarrack wasn’t a rural place any more”) along with the rest of the country, as the intensely Catholic society of their youth was transformed into the vibrant, complex Ireland of today.

Rory and Ita’s captivating accounts of the last century, combined with Roddy Doyle’s legendary skill in illuminating ordinary experience, make a story of tremendous warmth and humanity.

This magnificent book is not only a biography of, but also a love letter to Roddy’s parents, Rory and Ita.


Chapter One – Ita

‘The first thing I remember is the gramophone arriving. I know I must have been less than three, because my mother was still alive. It was a lovely thing. I can still smell the wood of it. It was dark wood, with a press below the turntable for the records. Slats behind the...
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“If you’ve enjoyed any of Roddy Doyle’s previous scribblings (and the movies based on them) — The Commitments, The Van, Paddy Clark Ha Ha Ha and A Star Called Henry — you will absolutely delight in devouring his first non-fiction work….A charming read full of warmth.”
Toronto Sun

Rory & Ita offers a glimpse of a very personal Ireland, the domestic landscape of a young Catholic couple embarking on a life together during rather lean times.”
The Edmonton Journal

“Amusing, deftly drawn…. [Ita’s] account of her stepmother, Pearl, and a neighbour watching TV in the days when few people had TV sets is priceless.”
The Globe and Mail

“[Rory & Ita] catches the democratic spirit of Dublin life.”

“Charming… Rory and Ita paint sumptuous portraits of their world together and apart…. Their memories have a lot to say about how the whole world has changed.”
National Post

Rory & Ita [sets] a new standard in the memoir and biography genres.”
The Vancouver Sun

Praise for Roddy Doyle:

“Doyle’s brilliant use of dialogue and the first person narrative to get inside the skin of his subjects . . . ranks him as one of the best Irish writers of his time.”
The London Free Press

“Doyle’s remarkable strength as a writer includes his ability to take the hardscrabble realities of Irish life, highlight its casual cruelties and kindnesses, inject the country’s trademark black humour, and weave it all into a coherent tale that resonates to readers elsewhere.”

“Roddy Doyle has a magnificent gift for taking the ordinary and giving it life.”
Calgary Herald

“Roddy Doyle is a very, very good writer . . . entirely unsentimental, and [with a] perfectly attuned comprehension of the real world of the Irish.”
The New York Times Book Review