Rachel Thompson

10 Things You Didn’t Know About Peter Cunningham

10 Things You Didn’t Know About Peter Cunningham

1. My father’s first visit to France took place at six-thirty in the morning on June 6th 1944 when he disembarked on a tank from a landing craft. The beach was code-named Sword. This was D-Day. Within fifteen minutes of hitting the ground, most of my father’s fellow soldiers were dead. Mines prevented the tanks leaving the beach. Working with another soldier, my father cleared a path of mines by hand and drove off the beach in his tank. The first thing they encountered was a group of German soldiers with their hands up in surrender. Over the next hour, my father with three men and one tank took ninety prisoners.

2. I scuba dive. One New Year’s Day morning, at the base of a coral reef off Barbados, sitting alone by the boat anchor at a depth of seventy-five feet, waiting for my fellow divers to join me, I was surrounded by a shoal of barracuda. There was no mistaking them: their lower jaws jutted out like razors. I had heard stories of barracuda going in one side of a diver and out the other. The fish thought the shining clip on the diver’s wetsuit zip was a little fish. I was just wearing a tee-shirt since the water temperature was around seventy-five.  Still, did they know that? I knew that to make any sudden moves would be a poor decision, so I very gently began to rise up, inches at a time. The barracudas rose with me, maintaining me within their circle. I stopped my panic by counting them. There were at least thirty. I rose and rose, very carefully letting my air bubbles rise ahead of me. Twenty feet from the surface, the fish disappeared. When I told them on the dive boat what had happened no one believed me.

3. I once met Samuel Beckett. I was sitting in a café in Paris and he appeared, walking up the street outside. I got up and introduced myself. He was most gracious, but kept going, in silence. I asked him for his autograph and he gave it to me. I still have it. “lovely day, isn’t it, Mr Beckett?’ I said. ‘Lovely,’ he replied.

4. My favorite red wine comes from the northern Cotes de Rhone; my favorite white from Montrachet. My favorite soft drink is homemade elderflower cordial.

5. I went into hospital when I was twelve to have my appendix taken out. After the anesthetic wore off, the worst pain was at the top of my thigh, at the back. Upon examination, I discovered five stitches there. It seemed clear that they’d been about to cut my leg off before someone pointed out that the leg looked healthy enough. I told my parents, but in those days one didn’t make a fuss. And I suppose, all things considered, I should be grateful.

6. I am allergic to mussels. As an infant in my mother’s home in Sutton, County Dublin, I was fed a daily diet of cockles, the shellfish dug up on the beach outside her backdoor. Infants are not meant to be fed shellfish in such quantities, for they develop a protein sensitivity. As a result, cockles and mussels make me ill.

7. I cannot watch a horror movie. I simply can’t do it. Same for movies with high tension. In ‘Fatal Attraction’ I had to leave the cinema at the point when the Michael Douglas character finds the boiled rabbit.  It’s not even the visual that I can’t handle: a few bars of the scary music and I’m out of there. Funny thing is, when I write scary stuff, I’m fine with it. I just don’t want people to do it to me.

8. I’m a hoarder, a trait I get from my late mother. I have bits and pieces of writing, and diaries, and tiny mementos going back to my early childhood; and to hers.  I simply cannot bring myself to throw things out.

9. I love tripe and onions boiled in milk, accompanied my warm, crusty blaas, the bread unique to Waterford City.

10.  Mum’s dad was a professional gambler from Sydney, Australia. He arrived in Ireland after WWI using an assumed name. He married my grandmother. She had no idea who he really was. Eleven years later he disappeared as mysteriously as he had arrived. His true identity lay secret for seventy years, until I eventually tracked him down. I would have had a dilemma as to whether or not to tell Mum what I had found about her father, but she had died the month before.


A book for your head and your heart. Winner of the Prix de l’Europe 2013.

A powerful novel from one of Ireland’s best writers on the turbulent birth of a nation, and the lovers it divides

Ireland 1945. Young and beautiful, Iz begins a life on the south-east coast with her new husband. As she settles in to try and make her life by the ever restless sea, circumstances that have brought Iz to the town of Monument are shrouded in mystery. However, history, like the sea cannot stay silent for long. The war in Europe is over, and change is about to brush away the old order. Soaring across the decades that follow Ireland’s newly won independence, sweeping across the fierce class issues and battles over land ownership that once defined Irish society, The Sea and the Silence is an epic love story set inside the fading grandeur of the Anglo-Irish class.

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Genre - Historical Fiction/Historical Romance

Rating – G

More details about the author

Connect with Peter Cunningham on Facebook & Twitter

Website http://petercunninghambooks.com/

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