Murder at the Majestic
On 11 August 1979, a humane and singular man, who after long periods punctuated by adversity declared himself ‘happier than I’ve been in years’, left his isolated cottage near Bantry Bay in the west of Ireland to fish from his favourite rock. There he was swept away by a huge wave, outrider of an unprecedented storm which two days later would claim the lives of eighteen crew in the Fastnet yacht race. A witness said no cry left the fisherman’s lips and he made no visible attempt to save himself. The body of the novelist J. G. Farrell was found a month later. With his death at 44, contemporary literature lost a unique voice and the prospect of even greater riches to come. John Banville said it was ‘nothing short of a disaster for English fiction’.