PJ Connolly is best known as the author of The Priest’s Wife, a novel of the more unconventional side of Irish life.
So who exactly is PJ Connolly?
Like that other Irish novelist Colum McCann, PJ was brought up in Blackrock on the outskirts of Dublin, Ireland.
He was educated at St. Mary’s College, Rathmines, where his teachers tried with scant success to cultivate an interest in Rugby. When it became obvious that PJ was never going to be a Rugby international the priests turned their attention to recruiting their pupil into their own ranks.
And so he agreed to give it a go. He set off into the Irish countryside to join the ranks of the Spiritans, an order of priests who besides their work in schools were also involved in missions to Africa and Brazil.
As part of his training for the priesthood, PJ studied English and Geography in University College Dublin. His interaction with academia and exposure to student societies led PJ to begin to question the choices he had made, yet it took eight years for him to come to the realisation that the priestly life was not what he wanted.
Having abandoned all aspirations to becoming a missionary in a foreign land he embarked on a career as a guidance counsellor in a girls secondary school south of Dublin where he was to spend the rest of his working life.
When the opportunity for early retirement presented itself he seized the opportunity to do what he had always wanted from an early age. Specifically to be a writer of fiction.
Ideas for his first novel soon began to suggest themselves. They came from all sorts of random happenings, things seen, things heard, things read. Inevitably he found himself drawing heavily on his knowledge of the inner workings of the Catholic Church.
Around this time he saw a TV documentary called Shattered Vows. It was based on a book by David Rice which described the experiences of priests who had left the ministry, in many cases to get married. Thus were sown the seeds of The Priest’s Wife.
PJ Connolly is currently working on a new novel set in the early decades of the twentieth century.