The Way-Paver

By Anne Devlin

Click Here for Artist's page in Archive

“Sometimes, as Devlin’s ‘The Way-paver’ suggests, the risk just has to be taken to separate oneself, to metamorphose, to be a gull or become ‘that stray seal’.”
Michael Parker

“The prostitutes stand on the corners of the streets on the road to the maternity hospital, shivering in the sunlight in twos and threes. A few hundred yards away a group of Asian men are waiting outside the ante-natal clinic. They do not look at the prostitutes. They do not see them. The waiting room is full as Frank and I enter.
‘No 22 next!’
‘Where’s your co-operation card?’
‘I’m post-natal.’
‘Oh! You’ve had it,’ the woman said. ‘I still need a urine sample.’
I was peering into the neck of a small bottle when she opened the hatch above me and called out: ‘Are you Irish?’
‘Yes.’ I handed her the bottle.
‘I’m from Tyrone myself.’
‘I’m from County Down.’
‘You had a difficult time?’
‘A boy, too?’
‘Well, the boys are always the worst. They’ve bigger heads than girls. Next time it will be easier. He stretched you, you see.’
‘I’m not going to have another one.’
‘Ah, go on. They all say that. You’ll be back two years from now. It’ll be much easier. The first one always paves the way.’
I went in to see the consultant and had a coil fitted.

Extract courtesy of Anne Devlin

The title story of this collection of seminal short fiction is a chilling evocation of belonging and escape within a female perspective of family and allegiance. These short stories of Anne Devlin include Naming the Names. Many of them were later dramatised for stage and television.

“The nine stories in The Waypaver are first person narratives and while I really loved writing in this way, the writing of short prose satisfied me, I had two impulses here: one to perform the stories and the other to turn them into screen plays.

‘Five Notes After a Visit’ which was funded by an Arts Council of Northern Ireland grant which allowed me to live for a short spell in Belfast in the eighties.I wrote Five Notes as a performance for my own voice at Thought Crimes Festival at the Barbican to celebrate Orwell’s centenary in 1984. It lasts 15 minutes. Five Notes is inspired by my reading of the book `1984’ in much the same way as a reading of`Crime and Punishment’ inspired ‘Naming The Names’. Yet both stories are a response, a witness to real events: it was the events of August 1969 which lies behind ‘Naming The Names’ and my reading of the transcripts of evidence to Scarmen.

1998 is significant because I say at the Royal Irish Academy in 2000 that because of the Agreement, the new dispensation writing , my writing, has to change: I think I have been writing out of trauma. So I have myself begun to address this: and have gone back to do a re-telling, a work in progress somewhere between Pentimento (Lilian Hellman) and Atonement (McEwan).

To this end I joined the 68 Civil Rights Commemoration Committee in order to re-engage with the real people and the real events I had left behind in 1969. This attempt to deal with a broken biography resulted in the new piece of prose `Time 2 Time’ from Days, which I read an extract for on 31st May at Women in 68 Day in Dungannon and on 31st August at the 1st Civil Rights Summer School at Carlingford in August 2009. Funding from the 68 Committee enabled us to film the day.”

Further Infomation


John Banville in the Irish Press picked out the title story The Waypaver as ‘a masterpiece’

Newspaper reviews for The Waypaver:

Irish Times 28th July 1986
Financial Times 22nd November 1986
The Guardian 19th Dec 1986
The Scotsman 17th Jan 1987
Sunday Times 23rd Nov 1986
The Independent 8th Jan 1987
Times Literary Supplement 16th January 1987
The Observer 14th Dec 1986
The Birmingham Post 29th Nov 1986
The Times 4th Dec 1986
Books & Bookmen Nov 1986
Literary Review Nov 1986
The Listener 1st Jan 1987
New Statesman 27th Feb 1987
Good Housekeeping March 1987







Short Story