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Gill Books to publish landmark new biography of Charles J. Haughey written by DCU’s Gary Murphy

Based on exclusive access to the Haughey archives, a landmark new biography from DCU’s Professor Gary Murphy, Haughey, will be published this November, offering a major reassessment of one of Ireland’s most significant and controversial politicians.


Whether you believe he was a saint or a sinner, Charles Haughey was unarguably the most talented and influential politician of his generation. His presence still looms large over Irish politics, yet the very roots of his success – his charisma, his intelligence, his ruthlessness, his secrecy – have rendered almost impossible any objective evaluation of his life and work. That is, until now. The first full-length cradle-to-grave biography of the man, this book is based on Haughey’s private papers, which Gary Murphy has had exclusive access to, and close to 100 interviews with Haughey’s family and friends, his political allies, his rivals and his civil servants.


Murphy, who is Professor of Politics at DCU’s School of Law and Government, has spent over seven years working on this book. He says, ‘What I present is, I think, a fully rounded portrait of a figure who continues to fascinate today. It has been an exhilarating journey which has brought highs and lows, and I greatly look forward to seeing it in print’.

Haughey cover
Haughey cover

Charting Haughey’s life as he rises from the poverty of Donnycarney on Dublin’s northside to the Taoiseach’s office, Professor Murphy’s biography is set to be the definitive assessment of the political giant.


We are with him from boyhood to his studies in UCD as he makes his way in the world on a scholarship; we are at his marriage to Maureen Lemass; we accompany him on his rapid rise in Fianna Fáil as Minister for Finance in 1966 to his crushing fall and dismissal from Cabinet in 1970 amidst the eternally controversial events of the Arms Trial.


We travel with him on his lonely road to political redemption in the 1970s and through his fraught years in power as Taoiseach on four different occasions: witnessing the heaves against him in Fianna Fáil, the election contests against Garret FitzGerald, the opposition to the Anglo-Irish Agreement, the attempts to bring peace to Northern Ireland in the late 1980s, the decision to enter coalition with the Progressive Democrats, as well as his performance on the international stage as he is engulfed in controversy over the Falklands war, and later his successful Irish presidency of the European Council in 1990.


And we are with him at the end: at his removal from power amidst controversy over his finances; at the tribunal revelations, as the fallout continues from his long-standing affair with Terry Keane; and finally, his slow and painful defeat to cancer in June 2006 at the age of 80.


Containing new information on every aspect of Haughey’s life, the book provides an encompassing view of a man of prodigious gifts, who, for all his flaws and many contradictions, came to define modern Ireland.


Haughey by Professor Gary Murphy will be published by Gill Books on Friday, 26 November 2021. For further details contact Claire O’Flynn, Publicist, Gill Books,, 086 023 2276.


About the Author

Gary Murphy is Professor of Politics at DCU’s School of Law and Government. An expert on Irish electoral history and a prominent commentator on contemporary politics, he is a regular contributor to RTÉ’s coverage of elections and referendums. He has published extensively on modern Ireland and is the author of Electoral Competition in Ireland Since 1987.

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