In My Own Light – A Memoir, by Raymond Deane


“Raymond Deane’s courageous account of his stuggle with alcohol is … often disturbing, but ultimately an inspiring journey.” – Donal Lunny

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In this compelling and lyrical memoir, renowned classical composer, author and political activist Raymond Deane evokes his near idyllic childhood on Achill Island, his adolescence in Dublin, and his rapid descent into alcoholism. In an alternately humorous and horrific narrative moving swiftly from Ireland to Italy, England, Switzerland, Germany and France, Deane shows us how a lovingly protected childhood is no bulwark against disaster. While this is no “misery memoir”, Deane does show how memory can seize upon and exaggerate painful experiences to provide a convenient but spurious explanation for irrational behaviour.

Throughout his story creative achievements and self-destructive frenzies succeed one another and sometimes coincide. Love is found and lost, and found and lost again. At last his recovery begins at the age of thirty-five when even those closest to him have given up hope. In the end, his book is, in his own words, “a talisman against fatalism”.

Written in three parts which are as strongly contrasted in style and tone as the movements of a symphony, In My Own Light provides a harrowing and honest look at one man’s battle with self-destruction.

About the Author

Raymond Deane was educated at University College Dublin, subsequently studying composition with Gerald Bennett, Karlheinz Stockhausen, and Isang Yun. His music has been represented at numerous international festivals. He was artistic director of the first two RTÉ Living Music Festivals and was awarded the degree of Doctor of Music by NUI Maynooth in November 2004. He has been a member of Aosdana since 1986. A founding member of the Ireland–Palestine Solidarity Campaign, he divides his time between Ireland and Bavaria.

“Raymond Deane’s courageous account of his struggle with alcohol is … often disturbing, but ultimately an inspiring journey.” – Donal Lunny

“I loved this memoir of a prodigal son from Achill (rescued from alcoholism with a bad cheque cashed in a Dublin bar) finally making his way back to sit with his father, sober and dry, quietly reading books.” – Hugo Hamilton

“This is a superb and shocking memoir. Elegant prose first lulls us into complacency with a rich, obsessively detailed, account of an Irish childhood. Cleverly, inexorably and despite a warning prologue, we are drawn into a subsequent nightmare recalled dispassionately. The absence of self-pity heightens the horror of a life almost destroyed. Only a very talented artist could have survived the self-inflicted travails described and at the same time become one of Ireland’s finest composers. The book leaves one with a feeling of relief, even joy.” – Bob Quinn