‘The small room was thick with dark blue uniforms. Bull’s wool the men called the material. Silver buttons. Black boots. Caps. Batons holstered in shiny black leather cylinders. Handcuffs hanging from coat hooks, the keys dangling on thick green ribbon. Dusty files on shelves. Shiny whistles on silver chains. Ink. Nibbed pens. Blotting paper. The big map of the district on the wall and beside it a rainfall chart. The men having broken their “at ease” positions, gathered into the middle of the room. His father seemed lost. Like a man with a herd of cattle he could no longer control.’
An insignificant Irish border village at the tail-end of the 1950s. The Sergeant is nervous. His men are lined up for inspection in the day room of the Garda station. Chief Superintendent ‘The Bully’ Barry is on the warpath and any slip-ups will reflect badly on the Sergeant. But what can he do with the men under his command – all of them forcibly transferred from other more important stations in more important towns? Each garda has his own story, his own problems. How can a man be expected to keep the peace with such a bunch of misfits and ne’er-do-wells?
Observing them with fascination, all but invisible in his own quiet corner, sits the Sergeant’s son. On the cusp of manhood, he is drawn in by these rough and ready men, stuck in this place and time, when all he wants is a chance to leave and start his life anew. Life at home in the station’s married quarters is both comfort and knife-edged, ruled over by his by-the-book father and his gentle, emotional mother.
Taking up where his acclaimed A Border Station left off, Married Quarters is a funny, beautifully observed and deeply personal novel. and marks the return of Shane Connaughton, one of Ireland’s most cherished writers