The internationally-respected Sam McAughtry is best known for his prolific career as a writer. But the Second World War Veteran has also been a journalist, broadcaster, civil servant, Trade Unionist, peace campaigner, and politician.
Born to a working-class family in East Belfast’s Tiger’s Bay in 1923, Sam McAughtry was exposed to the city’s sectarian divisions at an early age, since they were responsible for distancing him from his Nationalist relatives. He left school at 14 and served in the RAF during World War II, and later became a Civil Servant in the Department of Agriculture.
During these years, Sam rose to prominence in the Trade Unions, and enjoyed a second career as a writer for local newspapers. But his life was not easy. He has written movingly and candidly about the struggle with alcoholism which nearly destroyed his life. By 1971, he had reached his nadir. However, after a brief stay in hospital, he was determined to turn his life around and started work on his first book The Sinking of the Kerbane Head, an account of the sea battle which killed his brother. The success of this book brought him to a wider audience; and he became a popular commentator on RTE’s Sunday Miscellany and an award-winning columnist for The Irish Times.
In the 1980s, he published further novels, short stories and memoirs, and entered into the Ulster politics, becoming the founding Chairman of the Peace Train Organisation. In 1996, he was elected to the Senate of Ireland.
Sam McAughtry died on 28th March 2014
“It is my dearest wish to see this island inhabited by five million Irish people, living in two jurisdictions with consent, but with institutions established to emphasise their Irishness.”
Sam McAughtry (when elected to the Senate)
The Sinking of The Kenbane Head (1977)
Play It Again Sam (1978)
Blind Spot (1979)
Sam McAughtry’s Belfast (1981)
McAughtry’s War (1985)
Hillman Street High Roller (1994)
Down in the Free State (1987)
Belfast Stories (1993)
Touch and Go (1993)
On the outside looking in (2003)