Born in Kilkenny, MacManus was educated in the local Christian Brothers School and later at St. Patrick's College, Dublin and University College Dublin. After teaching for eighteen years at the Synge Street Christian Brothers School in Dublin, MacManus joined the staff of Radio Éireann (precursor to RTÉ, the Irish national broadcasting entity) in 1948 as Director of Features.
MacManus began writing while still teaching, first publishing a trilogy set in Penal times and concerning the life of the Gaelic poet Donncha Rua Mac Conmara comprising the novels Stand and Give Challenge (1934), Candle for the Proud (1936) and Men Withering (1939). A second trilogy followed which turned its attention to contemporary Ireland: This House Was Mine (1937), Flow On, Lovely River (1941), and Watergate (1942). The location was the fictional "Dombridge", based on Kilkenny, and deal with established themes of Irish rural life: obsessions with land, sexual frustration, and the trials of emigration and return. Other major works include the novel The Greatest of These (1943), concerning religious conflict in nineteenth-century Kilkenny, and the biographies Boccaccio (1947) and Saint Columban (1963). In his last two novels, MacManus descended into the depths of theological debate: The Fire in the Dust (1950) was followed by American Son (1959), a remarkable dialogue between conflicting modes of belief which reveals the strong influence of Roman Catholicism on the author.
MacManus died in Dublin 27 November 1965 at the age of 56, from a heart attack.
The RTÉ Francis MacManus Short Story Award was established in his memory in 1985.
Short story collection
- Pedlar’s Pack (Dublin: Talbot 1944)
- Stand and Give Challenge (Dublin: Talbot 1934; rep. Mercier 1964)
- Candle for the Proud (Dublin: Talbot 1936)
- This House was Mine (Dublin: Talbot 1937)
- Men Withering (Dublin: Talbot 1939; rep. Mercier 1972)
- The Wild Garden (Dublin: Talbot 1940)
- Flow on, Lovely River (Dublin: Talbot 1941)
- Watergate (Dublin: Talbot 1942; rep. Poolbeg 1979)
- The Greatest of These (Dublin: Talbot 1943)
- Statue for a Square (Dublin: Talbot 1945)
- The Fire in the Dust (London: Cape 1950)
- American Son (London: Cape 1959)
- Boccaccio (London: Sheed & Ward 1947), biography.
- Seal Ag Ródaíocht/On the Road for a Time (Dublin: Sairseal agus Dill 1955), travel essays.
- St Columban (Dublin: Clonmore & Reynolds 1963), biography.
The RTE Radio 1 Francis MacManus Short Story Award
"Francis MacManus Award" redirects here.
The competition is run by RTE, Ireland's national broadcaster, in memory of Francis MacManus and is open to entries written in Irish or English from authors born or resident in Ireland. The total prize fund is €6000, out of which the winning author receives €3,000. Sums of €2,000 and €1,000 are awarded to the second and third prize winners.
The number of entries is typically in excess of 800 stories (810 in 2011, 860 in 2010) out of which a shortlist of 25 is compiled. Each of the 25 short-listed stories is read and recorded by professional actors. The judges listen to these recordings and read the stories to consider their broadcasting and short story qualities before they select the winning entries. The recordings are broadcast on RTÉ Radio 1 following the announcement of the competition winners.
According to the entry form, "Over the past 25 years the competition has proved to be a launching pad for several new and emerging Irish writers and continues to offer a platform for the best of contemporary Irish fiction." Since 1985 over 500 stories from the competition have been broadcast. Among the names who have featured and who have gone on to win acclaim in Ireland and internationally are Claire Keegan, Molly McCloskey, Anthony Glavin, Mary O’Donnell and Ivy Bannister.
The panel of three judges for the 2012 competition is: Brendan Barrington, a Senior Editor at Penguin Ireland and editor of The Dublin Review; John MacKenna, author, and winner of the Irish Times, Hennessy and Cecil Day Lewis awards as well as a Jacob's Award for his radio documentaries on Leonard Cohen; and Éilís Ní Dhuibhne, novelist and short-story writer. Past judges include novelists, Joseph O'Connor and Anne Enright. The competition is organised by veteran RTE producer, Seamus Hosey.
The 2011 Award Winner: Austin Duffy
The winner of the 2011 competition was Dundalk-born oncologist Austin Duffy whom the judges described as "an exciting new voice in Irish fiction." Duffy combines his writing with his work as a Staff Clinician in the Medical Oncology Branch of the National Cancer Institute in Bethesda, MD, USA. The judges said that in his winning story, ‘Orca’, Duffy called on his medical expertise "to explore the complex relationship between a young doctor and his teenage patient, who is terminally ill with cancer."
Past Winners of the RTE Radio 1 Francis MacManus Short Story Award
Winner: "Love" by Ivy Bannister
2nd: : "Stay Close to the Water's Edge"
Winner: "The Hanging Trees" by Ruth LeGoff
Winner: "Dipping into the Darkness" by Maire McSweeney
2nd : "I am the Song - Sing Me" by Elizabeth Carty
3rd : " Jealousy" by Susan Knight
Winner: "The Wind Across the Grass" by Nuala Ní Chonchúir
Joint 2nd: "Rebound" by Lorraine Francis
Joint 2nd: "Heaven" by Jim Mullarkey
Winner: "Lemon Creams" by Vincent McDonnell
2nd : "Would you like to see a photograph?" by Billy Thompson
Winner: "The Mango War" by Martin Malone
2nd : "Walking Toby" by Geraldine Mills
3rd : "Glimpse" by James Moynihan
Winner: "Dark Horses" by Claire Keegan
2nd : "Pascal's Wager" by Michael J Farrell
3rd : "The World of Tides" by Bill Murray
Winner: "A Thing of Beauty" by Hester Casey
2nd : "The Weight of Feathers" by Geraldine Mills
3rd : "For Scrap" by Gavin Corbett
Winner: "Valediction" by Joe O'Donnell
2nd : "Loser" by Eileen Counihan
3rd : "The Man With No Name" by Gerry Boland
Winner: "Hay" by Ciarán Folan
2nd : "Home Help" by Dolores Walsh
3rd : "Romance" by Alastair Hadden
Winner: "Fishing for Dreams" by Joyce Russell
2nd : "Silverfish" by Eileen Lynch
3rd : "Comfort" by Sheila Mannix
Winner: "Orca" by Austin Duffy
2nd : "Platform 17 - Grand Central Station" by Patrick Griffin
3rd : "Seven Steps Home" by Andrew Fox
- Oxford Companion to Irish Literature cited at http://www.answers.com/topic/francis-macmanus
- Ibid. http://www.answers.com/topic/francis-macmanus