The Wily O’Reilly Irish Country Stories

Written by Patrick Taylor
Review by Kathryn Johnson

Between writing seven popular novels of Irish life, Patrick Taylor – Ireland-born physician, sailor and medical researcher – has been weaving brief humorous tales about the cantankerous Irish country doctor, Fingal Flahertie O’Reilly. They began showing up as short stories in Stitches: The Journal of Medical Humour. Now, many have been gathered into this single volume, no doubt to the delight of fans of Taylor’s wry humor and his cozy settings in the Ulster village of Ballybucklebo of the early 1960s.

The narrator of each tale is the younger, less experienced Dr. Laverty, who is being initiated into the creative “cures” employed by O’Reilly while carrying on his practice. Resolutions of all physical (and often times otherwise) problems in the village are carried out with tongue-in-cheek aplomb by the good pipe-puffing doctor. He tackles every complaint from a cleric’s sexual confusion to a mysterious ailment that‘s alleviated by the loosening of corset stays. He even reveals to his young associate the secret to getting 100 miles to the gallon of petrol. (Hint: It involves a goat.) These are deliciously fun and heart-warming stories, many as brief as 3-5 pages. Only the final, more recently written entry, “Home is the Sailor,” approaches the length of a novella. Prepare to be charmed by the Wily O’Reilly.